Tuesday, September 30, 2008

done. for now.

so i made my deadlines and all three projects were submitted.

i am bone tired.

absolutely positively.

i was talking to JS a couple of days ago, playing catch up, and he was relaying the not so great news that he'll be staying in alanta for another year or two. BOOOOO! i wasn't thrilled with that news, not at all. when he found out the kind of hours i've been doing for this (relatively) new gig, he asked "and you are ok with this?" i am ok with this right now. i am in a place where the hours fit into my current lifestyle (i.e., hermit-style which consists of only leaving to forage for food).

i find my job intellectually stimulating and have respect for my boss and the boss boss. i don't know about you dear hearts, but with each new company i join...i am finding that respect for the leadership is quite a crucial component to my actually staying with an organization. i also enjoy a measure of flexibility with my schedule. for example, i started today at 7am and let the boss know that i was going to sign off at 3 today. he was perfectly fine with it....particularly given the 14+ hour days i've been pulling. of course, if he was the type to be a butt head (which he isn't) i wouldn't be working for the company and if he had given me crap about signing off at 3, i doubt i'd be willing to put in the 14+hour days. i bet he knows that too. i bet he feels the same way i do. so it is all good.

so what did i do with my copious amounts of free time today? i went to stacey's to pick up the latest book from tamora pierce and i ate some duck noodle soup at the thai noodle joint off of union square. it was lovely. i stayed in stacey's for quite a long time...lingering particularly around the scifi and foodie areas ...ahhh heaven.....then ambled over to the thai joint near union squire. i got the distinct feeling it was just me and tourists taking advantage of the weak dollar in that 'hood today.

by the time i got to the decidedly more low rent "cash only" noodle place, i was pretty hungry. this joint is pretty consistent with solid offerings. i definitely like the roast duck noodle soup here...and i know enough folks order it so that the duck is turned over pretty quick. hmmmm. fatty ducky. hmmmmmm. yum. fatty ducky goooooood.

the noodles also arrive really fast after you order....which was pretty important as i wanted to satisfy my hunger as well as head back to berkeley, do a bit of blogging, and then settle down for the ultimate decadent behavior....reading scifi fantasy in bed. no email, no analysis, no research, no presentations, no projects, no execs, just curled up....reading in bed. well, dear hearts...i think i hear the bed calling out to me.

tomorrow it all starts again. yet for tonight, i can be decadent.

Monday, September 29, 2008

neighborhood jewel: old oakland farmers market

"hello! hello! hello!" says the frantic punchy foodie hunter with glazed eyes.....

i'm taking a super quick break as i have about 3 and a half ours until midnight....which is when i've got to finish my third project. remember, midnight for me is 8am in the uk.

no stress or anything.

the zen mood
is soooooo gone..... a far and distant memory.

yet, the foodie hunter cannot live on work alone! must have a break that is, as always, food-related....either eating it or looking at it....or both!

i think we've already established that i enjoyed my trip to the old oakland farmers market last friday. the scream sorbet experience alone would have made me happy with my visit. yet, when you add the jujube discovery....and seeing all of this beautiful produce....

how could i not be enchanted? it is my hope that this peaks your curiosity as well....and that you'll consider stopping by. maybe i'll see you there this friday! 'kay, break time over. if you would like to see more pics from old oakland farmers market, please feel free to visit my flickr page here. i gotta get back to work. 'til later dear hearts!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

jujube: wanna try?

while at the old oakland farmers' market on friday, i noticed that one of the corner stalls had a bin of brownish-red and greenish-yellow spheres. i was pretty intrigued so i walked over to the bin.

the vendor was pretty savvy and was offering entire globes to try....he indicated that these were jujubes grown in fresno. i took a bite of the offered globe. i really had no idea what to expect. the first thing you notice is the crisp and crunchy nature of the fruit. it has a nice crunch and subtle sweetness. i immediately started routing through the bin looking for some to buy. the vendor suggested looking for fruit that was smooth to the touch and had no wrinkles. i bought a half of a pound to take home with me...which was quite a few since they aren't really heavy.

since then, i've been snacking on them. particularly today...

as you can see, it also gave me an opportunity to play around with some of the jujube pics.

jujube texture is similar to an apple...except it isn't as juicy.

yup, jujube is dry. i don't mean this in a bad way.....it just isn't as wet as an apple or asian pear. the crispiness is similar to jicama...but again, it is a little drier than jicama. there is also a small seed or stone in the middle of the jujube. the vendor was right about the wrinkles btw. i managed to buy one that had some wrinkles on it. i bit into it as i wanted to see what the difference was.....and i noticed right away it wasn't as crisp. it wasn't bad...but i find that i really like that crispy crunch. no worries though....i immediately ate another smooth crunchy sweet one and i still have quite a few to snack on over the next couple of days. yum yum.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

bánh giò for breakfast....

so this is going to be quite the quickie posting...i'm in the last stretch of trying to get some projects done. yet, i wanted to share with you my yummy breakfast from this morning. i picked up some bánh giò from oakland's chinatown yesterday. i love this stuff. what is not to like about steamed dumplings/tamale-like things? the steamed dough is like a extra firm savory rice custard and it is filled with salty ground pork and crunchy wood ear mushrooms. isn't it great how there can be these tamale-like dishes all around the world that use similar techniques? makes the world seem a bit smaller.

bánh giò looks a bit mysterious when fully wrapped in the banana leaf....

i bet folks that have never had bánh giò are thinking, "what is that?!" yet, for those of you who do know what bánh giò tastes like and appear to visit my blog for the express purpose of seeing photos of bánh giò....even unwrapping bánh giò elicits anticipation and expectation....

ooooooohhhhhhh. ahhhhhhhh.

i typically cut it up so that it reheats evenly in the microwave. once the bánh giò is cut up i splash on some nuoc mam and then reheat it for a breakfast or snack. yum yum.

btw....i have blogged about
bánh giò before....so for folks who haven't already seen older bánh giò posting, please feel free to visit here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

yummerific: scream sorbet

a lot has happened today. yet, i wanted to dedicate a complete posting the amazing tastes i had at scream sorbet booth at the old oakland farmers' market. i was wandering around downtown oakland and on my way to the 12th street BART station when i noticed all of these tents.... i had no idea that there was a friday farmers' market in downtown oakland. some bay area native i am! for shame! i absolutely could not let this opportunity pass by. the experience was quite lovely and i'll talk more about that later ....i have lots of pictures to show...but while i was wandering around, i noticed this lady spooning out some samples...

i was pretty curious. i love the ice-y-and/or-creamy-stuff....sorbets, ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurts (only the ones that actually taste like yogurt, thank you), granita, sherbert, etc. etc. i think most of you dear hearts, already know this since....often times my suggestion after taking a gander around town is "wanna go get some ice cream/gelato/frozen-yogurt?" after DH and i traveled together for a couple of weeks, one of his favorite things to say was "you must have ice cream radar".

i suppose the radar came in handy when i zoomed in on the scream sorbet booth. there was quite an assortment of flavors to choose from:

i stood there kinda stupefied...trying to figure out which one (or ones) to have. the only flavor, at that time, that i thought i wasn't going to try was the coconut thai basil. it really didn't sound very appealing to me. the term "WTF" came immediately to mind when i saw the sign. yet, the friendly lady with kind eyes and the nice smile held out a scoop and asked if i would be interested in trying some. i kinda eye-balled the tasting spoon a bit. then i thought, "well, why not..i should try something new". you know what? that flavor was absolutely amazing. it was sweet, tangy, and absolutely refreshing....the melding of the flavors...and it was incredible. it was better than the six ice cream/sorbet tastes i had at slow food and it is absolutely on par to anything i've had at ici. now, those that haven't had dinner with me don't realize that i will plan entire dinner outings around being close enough to go to ici for dessert. i even take people to ici from out of town and make them stand in that all-to-frequent-gawd-awful-line. with scream sorbet, i think i've found a new destination spot.

the other flavor i tried was the dandy pluot...again, absolutely lovely taste with the sweet tangy taste of pluot at the forefront. wonderful, just wonderful. hmmm, i am actually bouncing right now...remembering it.

by the time i walked away from scream sorbet, digging into my wonderful scoops of coconut thai basil and dandy pluot sorbet, the cranky monster was nothing but a distant memory.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

mood: cranky

cranky cranky cranky.

the foodie hunter is very cranky.

the foodie hunter does not like being sick and knows that the foodie hunter can even "out cranky" a two year old when feeling sick. good thing i work from home and almost everyone else is in the uk....else i might have gotten all naomi on my co-workers today. although, i'd never throw my phones or blackberry...i like my gadgets too much....maybe a few of the hundred or so books i have in my office would do the trick. sometimes it is good to be a bibliophile. i suppose dear hearts, you are seeing all sides of the foodie hunter in this blog.... the good, the sad, the angry, and the very cranky.

the major difference between "the angry" and "the cranky" is that i can feed "the cranky" while "the angry"..well, as we've already established..."the angry" will not be placated by food alone.

i thought it would be a good idea to feed "the cranky" a couple of new [to me] things today. the first new taste were flat nectarines. quite intriguing little things aren't they?

i had never eat one before today. i'm not certain if i just picked up the up the wrong ones from the fruit mound...but they aren't as sweet or juicy as regular nectarines or peaches. the meat of the fruit is also a bit more dense than regular nectarines or peaches. if these were still a little under ripe [which i doubt because i waited a couple of days until they were slightly soft]...then they also didn't have that tarty tang of slightly under ripe peaches. i think i will try a few more to see if this experience is consistent.

the other new thing i tried today were spicy cheese curds that i bought at my local market.

now, i've tried fried cheese curds in illinois which were an interesting squeaky experience....so i thought, hmmm, these could be interesting as well. these are called mike's firehouse curd from spring hill...it looks like spring hill is based in petaluma, ca. they are pretty good once they are have been brought to room temperature. they definitely aren't the same kind of curds i had in the midwest...these are more cheesey. the curds in the midwest tasted something closer to paneer in taste and texture. the curds from spring hill were definitely more cheesey in flavor and texture....kinda like a very mild white cheddar.

i actually snacked on both of these two new things before i decided to also have them for lunch. i'm a big fan on grazing/snacking throughout the day. i also wanted to keep my lunch simple...as usual...so i added some toasted acme upstairs bread with ripe creamy yummy avocado and a sprinkle of my homemade habanero, black pepper, and cayenne spice mix.

kinda an interesting take on "bread, fruit, and cheese plate" don't you think?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

opo squash

'kay. i'm kinda tired, obviously cranky, and i think i'm getting sick. oh joy.

in an effort to combat the cold/flu/virus/whatever-it-is, i took a longer than usual pause in front of the stack of ca grown opo squash at my local market today. even though it was pretty warm today, i thought that soup for lunch would be a good choice. i realized that i hadn't made this opo squash soup in a really long time. it is a soup that i've had since i was a little neophyte foodie hunter. sometimes i eat the soup by itself or sometimes i put a scoop of the soup on top of my rice in my bowl. it is one of those things that i don't know the "official" name of and alas, it is also one of those dishes that you don't find in restaurants either. for some reason, i thought it would be a good dish to make today.

so i sliced up the opo squash into strips.....

i also chopped up some of this lovely fresh cayenne

that my local market had. i typically use dried cayenne or chili flakes. yet, since i came across these...why not try them instead? i sense that there will be some experimenting with fresh cayenne in the future.

after i chopped up the vibrant fresh cayenne, i smashed/chopped some garlic and the white parts of 2 scallion stalks.....next, i chopped the green sections of the scallions and set aside some dried shrimp....

then, i filled a pot with some water, added a handful of the dried shrimp, the chopped cayenne, garlic, the whites of scallions, and some nuoc mam. this is the foundation of the broth. once that was at a full boil for about 5 min or so....i added the squash. the soup is done when the squash becomes translucent...and that is the perfect time to add the chopped green sections of the scallions. this would also be a good time to add chopped fresh cilantro...but alas...as i didn't have all of the brain cells working today (and i can tell that i still don't...things seem kinda hazy at the moment)....i forgot to pick some up. yet sometimes we just have to make do with what we have.

it is a lovely soup and the opo squash gives the broth a nice "mouth-feel" to it...that is a bit unexpected. the majority of the time, you don't expect a clear soup to have that almost "heartiness" to it. especially a soup that contains no potatoes or grains....yet this soup is quite different. despite the heat, the soup helped provide me with a nice burst of energy and i felt almost normal for few hours. sigh. i think i should go to sleep early tonight, maybe that will help.

Monday, September 22, 2008

unexpected sinfulness

those that don't know me very well, probably didn't think i was serious about eating the pide (i.e, bread) that i took home from turkish kitchen last night. yet, it made a great addition to my lunch today.

lunch had to be quick as i'm really trying to make my deadline (yes, i know i seem to be saying that a lot these days), so the bread was quite fortuitous. as you can see, my late lunch consisted of the pide, 3 different types of olives: black spicy moroccan, green garlic stuffed, and a blood orange flavored melody (these were yummerific and my fave taste of the bunch btw)....as well as some hummus flavored with a bit of harissa, additional kalamata extra virgin olive oil, and parsley.

simple? yes. yet, somehow....it still felt a bit sinfully delicious. everything just rolled on the tongue....the silkiness of the hummus paired with the extra kalamata olive oil....even the sweet sour blood orange flavored olives. these textures and flavors were coupled with the soft pillows of the bread....everything just seemed to integrate together to become this perfectly in synch melody. a bit unexpected....yet, very welcome.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

gimme some meat

it doesn't happen very often...but there are times when i absolutely crave meat. sometimes i think it is more of a craving for protein...so i'll try...you know....eggs or tofu. well in this case, i tried that the egg and tofu thing for a couple of days and it just wasn't meeting the craving.

i decided to take a break from my work projects and grab some meat for an early dinner. i think we all know that when i grab something to eat, i like to go during off times....i'm not a fan of crowds....and it does get pretty crowded at turkish kitchen
during lunch and dinner. i don't think they have a web site, so here is the address: 1984 shattuck avenue in berkeley... the cross street is university. i have been coming here for a while. each time i have visited has been yummy and everyone has been super nice. today, i think i slipped in right before the dinner rush....

i love how they have pictures of the food on the wall...it is good for people like me that don't have a good background in turkish cuisine. while i was perusing the menu, i had to stop myself from ordering the lamb beyti. i adore this dish...(for pics go here) but i seem to order it almost every time i visit. so today, i wanted to be different. well, sorta kinda different. i still ordered the kisir as a starter....

which is something i seem to do every time i visit. i can eat buckets of this stuff...

but i really needed satisfy the meat craving so i ordered the lamb shish kebab (although, i think they spell kebab differently) as my entree...

oooohhhhhh, it was sooooooo gooood. hmmmm. meat. juicy. chew chew chew. hmmmmm. yummy. meat craving satisfied. sigh. they also gave me this really good bread with the meal.

yet, i was so stuffed from eating the kisir, lamb, yogurt sauce, and rice pilaf.... i could barely do more than look at the bread. there was no way i was going to waste it! i do like this bread quite a bit. so i just wrapped the bread in a paper napkin to take home. i have some hummus in the fridge that the bread would be perfect with.
it is good to live in the states isn't it? no one blinks an eye and you doing something like this. i feel so lucky.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

cupcake nostalgia

there is something about a cupcake. is the the nostalgia? is it a little cup of happiness? perhaps. yet the cupcakes from my local cupcakeria (i.e., love at first bite) are not exactly "old-fashioned" cupcakes...you know, the ones that seem to have 3 or so inches of thick heavy pure frosting with a small super duper sugary sweet cake.

i must admit that i'm not a fan of the old fashioned traditional cupcake.

i fully understand that this is my personal quirk and there are hundreds of (if not a hundred thousand or so) people who line up for the magnolia cupcakes that completely disagree with me. the last time DC and i were in new york, i know she thought i was kinda crazy when i took a bite and a half of my cupcake and said "i'm done". after all, we had waited in line with elbows out trying to move around in that small cramped space. i could tell that DC liked magnolia cupcakes. a lot. yet, there are certain cupcakerias that we both like. we do enjoy cupcakes at love at first bite....and freakin' adore kara's cupcakes. but alas, kara's is in the city AND it is the marina. the marina isn't exactly on my "to visit" places. i also hear that there is also a location at ghiradelli. but again, not a location on my "to visit" list.....the thought of visiting ghiradelli is right up there with fisherman's wharf. so with those thoughts in mind....i don't visit kara's very often, and well, love at first bite is around the corner from my place. so the convenience and the fact that they seem to offer cupcakes that are more than just towers of overly sweet sugary frosting makes it a go-to place for me....especially when i have a limited amount of time to pick ups some treats for the family. during my last visit, i decided to stop by for a dozen....

i always feel just a teeny bit decadent when i order that many....i'm not certain why.....don't they look pretty?

i love being able to pick and choose.....my faves are the red velvet

and the strawberry (aka pretty in pink). the strawberry is a pretty huge hit with JC too. EC seemed a bit overwhelmed with all of the choices and eventually settled on this one as well.

the mudpie cupcake is also pretty popular...this is a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and crushed oreos....DC went for that one.

they had a couple of flavors that i hadn't seen before......a blueberry lemon....

which was more like a blueberry lemon muffin with lemon frosting....it was a texture thing...more muffin-y than cake-y. it was still pretty good though. the other new one was the blackberry lemon....

AC had this one and said that he thought it was the best one he's had from love at first bite. yet, keep in mind though....AC is allergic to chocolate.

it wasn't until much later that i realized that i was contributing to future "cupcake nostalgia" as i inundate the next generation with cupcake food memories and the anticipatory excitement that comes with them. it is funny how things like that can hit you and you think "well, duh, why didn't i realize this before? it is so obvious."