Smug Cafe in Venice

Kreation Kafe exteriorJust two weeks ago, Smug Scout was in the deepest doldrums about leaving her beloved Smug east coast habitat and having to return to L.A., where she has to trouble herself with that tedious interference to her traveling, eating, and drinking whirlwind: the very job that finances these activities. Yuck. But Smug Scout was happy to receive a visitor from San Francisco, her longtime friend Smug Caustic Critic. If his name does not clearly reveal why Smug Scout loves him, she will elaborate: he makes Smug Scout laugh her head off, a rare gift. She loves his brutally sarcastic and absurd wit!

Kreation Kafe interiorOne day during this four day visit, Smug Scout and Smug Caustic Critic were walking around a local Smug epicenter, Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, when they spotted an outdoor cafe that had reclaimed looking wood everywhere in sight: sign, building, walls, fence, doorway, tables, and even tree stump stools. Smug Scout first wondered if it was a mirage, like those swimming pools and lemonade stands in boiling hot Looney Tunes deserts, but then it turned out she and Smug Caustic Critic could cross this magical threshold and order a virtuous non-alcoholic drink (but not food, as they had a difficult-to-get reservation at another Smug hotspot, Tasting Kitchen).

Kreation menuSo a pale, wan, indifferent sylph brought them to a table and deposited some menus that seemed awfully tattered and shopworn for a place that has only been open a few months. The contents of the menu appealed to her: all organic and local produce from the legendary Santa Monica FM, cold pressed juice, and even a category called “Ageless Wonders,” which sounds Smugly spiritual, though she cannot for the life of her figure out either its meaning or its business on a drink menu. Smug Scout decided on a smoothie called Green Dream, which featured almond milk, green apples, a frozen banana, parsley, and of course kale. Smug Caustic Critic ordered some unpronounceable herbal tea.

Kreation Green DreamWhen Smug Scout’s Green Dream arrived, of course with a green straw and in a repurposed jar, she loved it so much that she offered Smug Caustic Critic a taste. Though she hoped he would also love its intense greenness and kale-ness, his face and in fact his whole mood soured after one tiny sip. He announced that it tasted like “lawn clippings in my mouth” and even proceeded to offer a sarcastic revision of the process of making it: “They take a full lawn mower bag, extract the clippings, pulp them, and serve them in overpriced smoothie form.” And while on the subject of grass, Smug Caustic Critic slammed Kreation Kafe for its Astroturf floor material. Though Smug Scout attempted to suggest that Astroturf is practical in desert ecosystems (like L.A. had a few centuries ago) because it requires no watering and is also a sensible repurposing of discarded rubber tires, Smug Caustic Critic was having none of it. He archly informed Smug Scout that Kreation Kafe should be renamed Polymer Palace for its shameful incorporation of UN-sustainable and UN-local materials.

Torchiere coverSmug Scout enjoys such rants and encouraged Smug Caustic Critic to continue. He denounced Kreation Kafe for promoting its reliance on local organic produce but then putting Persian Sumac and Pink Himalayan salt on the tables. (Smug Scout agrees that there is plenty of salt in the Pacific and doubts anyone in L.A. puts sumac on anything voluntarily.) He denounced Kreation Kafe for exploiting Malaysian forests for their virgin trunk wood. (Smug Scout does not know how he could look at tree stump “chairs” and know anything at all about their provenance, unless he is a dead tree medium.) And he most vehemently denounced Kreation Kafe for covering its “carbon emitters” (known to others as heat lamps or torchieres) with what he called “reclaimed Afghan burlap burqas.” (Smug Scout looked at the hole in the burlap cover, saw what he meant, and burst out laughing.)

Kreation Kafe toiletSmug Scout was laughing and laughing…until she had to go to the bathroom. After sitting in that woodsy Smug outdoor oasis, Smug Scout was not prepared for the shockingly primitive squalor of the restroom. Remember, Smug readers: this place has barely been open three months! Thinking back, Smug Scout did not mind the backwoods experience in the Cafe Stella restroom, which really just meant cold water and nowhere to dry your hands. This one is just plain disgusting. The wall has water stains (did it rain sideways here?), the toilet paper dispenser has broken off (which actually was inconsequential, since there was no more toilet paper anyway), and the broken paper towel dispenser (not shown) evacuated its dry towels to the sink, so they were all soaked. This is not a Smug nature experience. This is a third world slum dive bar after last call. Smug Scout thinks even an outhouse could be more hygienic, tasteful and ecological than this hideous pit.

Kreation Organic windowSmug Scout left Kreation Kafe feeling like a dupe. While Smug Caustic Critic was ludicrously trying to determine if the owners of the place were squirrels, warthogs, geese, cows, or some other ruminants (since he was a broken record on the topic of drinks made with the help of a lawn mower), Smug Scout was thinking that whatever creatures run this “kafe,” they are very cynical. They know that Smug customers will flock to the beautiful reclaimed wood outdoor tables, spend a lot of money on pressed and pulped vegetation, and only later discover the rank, ugly bowels. Smug Scout has thus made a decision: she will only return in a dehydrated state, perhaps even hungover. The Green Dream will taste better that way anyway.

Smug Scenes from the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market: Iconic Shoppers

Smug Scout knows she has been very remiss in her writing duties, if not her actual Smug scouting duties. She has been as busy with the latter as ever, especially during her summer vacation. Now that she is in Portsmouth, she feels very inspired again, most likely due to its uniquely jaw dropping level of Smugness. She has already spent two Saturdays at her favorite Smug epicenter, the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market. She is happy to report that virtually nothing has changed since last summer, but in the almost nine hours of amazed and amused viewing, often sneakily from the periphery, she captured some iconic images that she would like to share with her readers. You may be tempted to critique Smug Scout for photos of middling quality, but keep in mind that she was using her zoom lens to avoid unpleasant confrontation with her unwitting subjects. She is still not sure how she would have explained to some of these locals why she was taking their pictures, but she knows any attempt would have gone poorly or even worse.

IMG_1143Smug Family: Smug Scout loves watching Smug local families arrive and depart, ideally without screeching sound effects. Though this picture does not show the wealth of detail she wishes it did, you will still notice some classic Portsmouth FM hallmarks:

  • The Radio Flyer wagon has a Whole Foods tote bag filled with produce, while multiple onions roll around loosely in a layer of dirt at the bottom of the wagon. (Smug Scout may have made up that last detail, but she did see onion stalks sticking out.)
  • The parents are carelessly dressed, as if they purposely wanted to provide a dreary, sloppy backdrop to their colorful daughters. The mother’s hair is a nest of frizz, while the father wasted not a second on brushing or shaving.
  • The girls have their hair in some youthful feminine style and wear brightly colored sundresses. The girl in blue with the pink Crocs unwisely takes after her father in shoe taste, though she has not yet advanced to the murky, rank dishwater color scheme he prefers. (N.B. At one time, the Smug Barrington Bartender told Smug Scout that Smug children prefer to wear Crocs in two different colors, but Smug Scout has yet to see this. She suspects that the Smug Barrington Bartender knows of other epicenters that outdo even this one. She wonders why the Smug Barrington Bartender is withholding these locations from her.)

Loading the Forrester Loading a Subaru: Smug Scout does not plan to move to Portsmouth, though she dreams of it often. However, if she were to move here, one of the first things she would do is buy a Subaru Outback or Forrester. Then she would go to the Portsmouth FM and take part in a ritual that occurs with astonishing regularity:

  • Buy many plants and flowers
  • Leave them lined up on the sidewalk (no fear of theft here!)
  • Retrieve Subaru Outback or Forrester from parking lot
  • Drive back to sidewalk
  • Park Subaru
  • Slowly load plants and flowers into trunk
  • Arrange and rearrange plants, flowers, and other purchases
  • Depart 15-20 minutes later, maybe longer if another Subaru does not pull up to do the same thing in the same location

Smug Scout realizes this activity may sound terribly banal, but she simply cannot believe how many owners of Outbacks and Forresters engage in this ritualistic activity every single week. She wonders if the Subaru owners manual instructs its drivers to have gardens established through these exact means. (“You may NOT buy plants or flowers at Lowe’s. You MUST seek out a local market. You may NOT load them carelessly or quickly. You MUST display them tastefully in the trunk.”) So fascinating, these Smug New Hampshire natives with their Subarus.

IMG_0904Hairy and Tattooed Shoppers: You simply cannot spend five hours at the Portsmouth FM without seeing all manner of excess hair and tattoos. Smug Scout grabbed her camera when she saw this archetypal couple (left). Note intentionally wild and style-free hair, colorless outfits, and ghoulishly pale limbs with indecipherable images tattooed all over. Smug Scout is not, however, impressed that these otherwise Smug locals did not bring reusable bags or third world woven baskets with them. Even if they forgot their bags/baskets, they could have bought new reusable totes from Black Kettle Farm or the Seacoast Local organization (motto: “You are where you eat”). This next one (right) did better in the Tattooed shopperecological department. Though her hair “style” is equally slapdash, her outfit equally dingy and drab, her skin equally ghostly, and her tattoos equally garish and impossible to interpret from the safe distance Smug Scout was forced to keep, this hairy and tattooed shopper at least had the good sense to bring a large third world woven basket and fill it with flowers, herbs, and greens that she, in classic Portsmouth fashion, arranges for display more than protection. Some of those flowers may be beheaded if someone–for example, a terrifying looking uncouth visitor from the backwoods interior of the state–bumps into her roughly, but she will probably make sure to be nowhere near such yokels.

Stay tuned for the second part of the Smug scenes from the Portsmouth FM series. The next one features a new age farm, a precious local band, and kale. Start brewing your Smug White Heron tea. Smug Scout will have the post for you very soon.