Sunday, March 29, 2009

simple. spicy. satisfying.


i sent off the draft of the project of the german team to the boss a few hours ago.....it was nice to just have some time to wind down from the past few days. it is one of the odd things about working for a corporate office at an international company, sometimes projects just "appear" and then i immediately immerse myself in a particular facet of another culture in span of a few days. when this happens....and i am working toward extremely condensed deadlines...i feel like i step away from my life. my attention is focused on absorbing large amounts of data while seeking to identify the patterns and connections. i do try to take a few breaks here and there, whether it be for posting to the blog or to make quick snacks. i notice that i do a lot more snacking rather than "meals" during these sort of projects. one of the snacks i made myself today was super simple, it was just a pinkerton avocado, hellfire salsa, and bread.

it started out with the pinkerton avocado which was perfectly ripe, smooth, and supremely luscious

then i wanted to add some hellfire salsa (a staple in my fridge) as i always love heat and spice...

and was quite generous with my spooning of the salsa on top of the pinkerton avocoado....


and then grabbed and sliced some acme pain au levain to toast in the oven....



then put the avocado and salsa on the toasted bread.

it was perfectly yummy. random...yes, but still very yummy. during these times, it is all about what is simple, spicy, and satisfying. this combination hit all three.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

poco dolce...an old fave at the sf chocolate salon

as i mentioned on my flickr page, i've lost count how many boxes of polce dolce chocolate tiles i have bought for myself and loved ones. thankfully, polce dolce can be found at many bay area locations.....for a list of stores...please feel free to visit here. so while i was at the sf chocolate salon last week, i definitely wanted to find their table. i remember last year, they had run out by the time i had gotten to them.

thankfully, i found their table


and was able to nibble quite happily. my absolute faves are the aztec chile and the burnt caramel tiles.

OMG. when i eat those tiles, i want to nibble really slowly to savor the tastes and extend the experience for as long as possible. many loved ones that i have also purchased these tiles for quite happily agree with me....although there is one loved one that likes to gobble through them because he can't wait. figures.

anyway,
one of the poco dolce folks at the table was also providing a mint toffee flavor as a sample....i had never tasted that flavor before and i must say that it was very supremely yummy. i also saw that they have a new line of toffee squares....these are a bit smaller than their tiles and the lovely flavors include espresso...


hmmmm. yum yum. i can see that going over real well in the bay area (and foodie folks from all over). can't you?

i think being able to see what old favorites like poco dolce are up to as well discover newbie chocolatiers are what makes events like the sf chocolate salon so interesting. hopefully, i'll get a chance to attend it again next year.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Socola...an overall fave from the SF Chocolate Salon


just when i thought things couldn't get nuttier, i get a call from the boss this morning to let me know about a project for the german team that has arrived and will need to be completed by 1am monday pacific (i.e., 8am in the UK). the silver lining in this whole thing is that it means that i won't have to be on a plane to ATL on sunday....which is something i'm not exactly disappointed about. never a dull moment in this job. not at all. yet, i wanted to take a break/moment to blog about the sf chocolate salon....specifically about socola chocolatier.

i was a lot more judicious at this year's sf chocolate salon when it came to tastings....i wanted to avoid the chocolate hangover i had last year. while i was wandering around the pretty crowded venue, i must admit that i was drawn to the socola chocolatier table because of their well-done display, boutique packaging, and because i didn't recognize the name.

once i arrived at the table, the first sample i saw was "vietnamese coffee"....

i instantly thought "OMG, that is perfect. why didn't someone think of that before? i bet these folks are from the bay area." naturally, the vietnamese coffee flavor was the first sample i tried and it was supremely lovely. the chicory coffee flavor is a natural complement to the chocolate. while i was standing there nibbling on the vietnamese coffee and

guinness samples, i noticed there was a genuine level of enthusiasm of the socola folks at the table. they didn't seem jaded or disaffected by the whole "booth duty" experience at all. in general, i found all of the vendors at the sf chocolate salon to be extremely patient and gracious when dealing with the crowds...i could tell that the crowds were wearing many of them down by 1pm. yet, there was something infectious and charming about the enthusiasm of these socola folks that stood out in my mind. it appeared that they were energized from the crowd....it made me wonder if they were new to this....or maybe that they really loved what they were doing. i love watching people that are passionate about what they are doing.

as i left the sf chocolate salon, i remember thinking that the socola folks had this great balance of product, packaging, and passion. yeah, i know....this is such a "business" way at looking at it. i may adore and be passionate about food...but i do spend about 12+ hours a day thinking about strategy, positioning, branding, etc...so i can appreciate the balance when i see it. it was because of this balance that i had the best overall sf chocolate salon experience at socola.

if you are interested in finding them, it looks like you can pick up socola chocolates at the SOMA Whole Foods in the city, Daily Delectables on Grand in Lake Merritt, or at their web site. i hope to see them at more stores in the future.

UPDATE: i received a note from the graphic designer of the socola packaging....if you are interested in taking a look at her stuff, she can be found here.


Monday, March 23, 2009

honey vodka truffle: a fave from the chocolate salon

ok. so things are a bit nutty at the moment. i'm still trying to figure out if i will be on a plane for the ATL on sunday...but alas, i wanted to write a quick posting about one of my favorite tastes from the sf chocolate salon. the honey vodka truffle from xox truffles is heavenly good. it was one of the truffles i tried at the xox truffles booth....and while i very much enjoyed their new cayenne tequila truffle, it was the honey vodka that really stood out in my mind. the truffle ganache was an absolutely lovely combination of smooth sweet flavors that melted quite nicely on the tongue....and then you feel the ever so slight bite and warmth from the vodka. i remember taking a bite of the truffle at the booth and saying immediately to the super nice ladies at the table that "wow, this is really good."

i don't say that very often.

i even bought some.

i've been waiting all day to have one....

as my reward at the end of the day. quite the reward it is. i actually wish i had bought more of these and the cayenne tequila ones for loved ones. i think i may be stopping by one of the local markets to pick up some more. for locations, please feel free to visit here. unfortunately, their web site uses frames (yikes)....so alas, you'll have to do some click-throughs to get to the "contact us" or "other locations" pages. it looks like they are at whole foods in the bay area...and thankfully, for me, at berkeley bowl.

well, i've got to run....hopefully, i'll be able to blog about some of the other lovely tastes that i had from socola and poco dolce from the chocolate salon....yet, here is the link again to the pics i posted on flickr.

'til later dear hearts.

xox,

me

Saturday, March 21, 2009

sf chocolate salon pics on flickr

super quick posting to let everyone know that i posted pics of the sf chocolate salon on flickr.

go here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiehunter/sets/72157615647351377/


will blog more about it later.....

hugs-

me

Friday, March 20, 2009

going with the flow


taking a quick break for lunch and am feeling a bit worn down. not surprising....since it is friday afternoon. i'm also not exactly thrilled about the prospect of more travel coming up. looks like there is a very strong possibility i'll be in atlanta for a week and half....and then be heading out for the UK after that. just typing those words make me weary....for so many different reasons.

because i am feeling a bit worn down, i wanted lunch to be supremely simple today. as i toasted some slices acme upstairs bread in the oven, i went over to look at one of the pinkerton avocados that i bought at my local market. i love avocados...and living in CA gives me access to lots of them. yet, i have never tried a pinkerton before. see how the pinkerton shape is quite different than haas....

as i split the pinkerton avocado, i noticed that it was a bit more firm than i expected.

after i split it completely and started digging around...i realized it was still too hard. the tips of the avocado were ripe and quite tasty, but the majority of the other portions were still too hard. sigh. the best laid plans i suppose. but alas, things don't always go according to plans or hopeful expectations. thankfully, i had bought a couple of haas avocados, and one of them was just perfect.

so i didn't have to completely forgo my sandwich. as i was spreading the ripe haas avocado on to the toasted acme upstairs bread, i could not help but think...."wouldn't it be nice if things could shift or adapt so effortlessly in all parts of life? you know, like the pinkerton didn't work out but the haas worked out just fine as a substitute."

in reality, it probably wouldn't be nice....but this is just the mood i am in right now, and i completely realize this. after i finished spreading the avocado on the toast....

i turned my attention to adding a bit of pastrami.

ahhhh, very simple isn't it? doesn't it look pretty? if only everything else could be so easy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

when it really isn't about the dishes

ok. i was a total shit this evening. it was an instance where my infamous stubbornness was out and about...at full force. yet, not in a good way. i've calmed down a bit....and am eating some of ici's burnt caramel ice cream as a way to help assuage the not-so-little-rebel in me.

i think ice cream is one of my favorite desserts. i'm actually not a big fan of cakes.i like certain kinds of cupcakes, but overall, a big slice of cake usually isn't something i get very excited about. i definitely needed the ice cream today. i'm just lucky that earlier this afternoon, i made a quick run to the thursday's berkeley farmers market.

i had originally thought to just get a scoop of ice cream from the ici stall....

yet, it looks like they have changed their offering. they were selling their ice cream sandwiches and pints at the stall as opposed to scoops. so i bought a pint of the burnt caramel

and quickly returned home. i was expecting a package from UPS that i knew i needed to sign for. i was gambling that if my visit to the market was fast enough, i could return home before the UPS guy arrivedwhen i got home, i was thankful that he hadn't arrived yet and then i had a few tastes of the super yummerific ici ice cream.



i love ici's burnt caramel flavor. it reminds me of creme brulee. yet, as i type this posting (many hours after i bought the pint), i am having more than just a few tastes.

i'm having a whole lot of tastes.

as i mentioned earlier, i had a bit of a conflict with a loved one this evening. we are both stubborn people who definitely do not like being told what to do.....and now, i think the conversation is kinda funny. well, kinda sorta. there we were on the phone, both sticking to our various sides....and not only were we both not wanting to budge....but we were also pushing as well. the conversation ended because the ups guy arrived and i had to get off the phone and get the package. the loved one had to leave too.

it was a while later that i realized that the conflict was not really about what we were talking about. i had this epiphany moment and thought "OMG, i just had the equivalent of the dishes argument."

i think many of you, dear hearts, know EXACTLY what i am talking about. have you ever had an argument with a loved one, roommate, live-in lover, etc....about seemly innocuous stuff like the who does/doesn't do the dishes? then it hits you that the
argument really wasn't about the dishes....because how could you really get all stubborn and worked up about something so silly? the "dishes" are just a stand in for something else.

i wish i would have realized this sooner. you know, like, before the conflict and me acting like a total shit. that would be have been nice. sometimes i feel so emotionally awkward. this is definitely one of those times. i mean, i think i got a pretty good DNA deal on the analytical smarts front....but i've definitely got a bit short-changed on the emotional smarts front. but of course, i didn't realize this sooner and like the super duper stubborn foodie hunter that i am, i just HAD to dig my heels in and be a total shit.

humph, i think i'd better just eat more ice cream. ice cream doesn't have any emotional complications and that is just fine with me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

multitasking

i love technology. yes, i love food more (obviously)...but i definitely have an affection for technology... specifically technology that makes everyday life easier.

this came to mind as i was having a chat with the best friend via my phone's headset, while making a simple and fast dinner this evening. i wanted to try making paneer in a madras sauce using the seeds of change sauce that MP gave to me the last time i saw her.....and saw that this would be a great multitasking opportunity.

i love that my hands were completely free to make dinner and i didn't have a crick in my neck because i was wearing a headset. such a simple thing really....yet, sometimes it really is the simple things that make all of the difference. so while we were chatting, i was able grab....


slice......


and then cube the paneer....



then fry up the paneer in some hot olive oil and whole cumin seeds....


until brown....


then add some of the seeds of change madras sauce....


and let that simmer for a while....


then plated the brown rice i had made earlier.....


and then added the paneer in madras sauce....

then i started to nibble....all without hanging up the phone!

oh so convenient.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

midnight musings and letting go

i didn't realize until the other day that "letting go" included some unexpected nuances. typically, when i think of "letting go" of a relationship, i thought it meant letting go of the care you have for that person as well as letting go of the expectations of the life you thought you would have together. i thought of it as an acceptance that what you had is no longer what you have. i must be doing too much strategy work these days, to think about this kind of stuff in such "big picture" framework.....because, the devil is really in the details.

the other day, i had a late afternoon appointment with my new tax guy in the city. i have never been to his office before, so i'm the type (big surprise) to always want to give myself some time to find the place...as well as potentially arrive 5-10 min early. i was doing my brisk and determined walk downtown toward the tax guy's office, listening to tunes on my ipod, when i noticed a man sitting on a corner, hunched over his knees, the brown hoodie drawn over his head, and his hand held with a styrofoam cup in the air. now i used to work downtown....and street people are part of the landscape. sad, yes...but true. this street person didn't fit into the landscape. he was wearing Sk8-Hi vans and a hipster workman jacket over his brown hoodie. his clothes weren't really dirty and the shoes weren't super worn. because he didn't really seem to fit into the landscape, i took a closer look at him as i passed and when i did, i felt my breath catch. there was a lock of golden red hair that could be seen outside of the hoodie. there are not a lot of men with that hair color.

as i crossed the street, i could feel my mind race. is that him? the shoes, the jacket, hoodie, and the hair. could he have let himself spiral that far? i stopped across the street and turned around. i stood there looking at this motionless man that looked like he wanted the ground to swell up around him.

then i felt angry...at myself. my gad, how could i think that could be him? him and his specialized creative developer skill set....six figure salary..... with two sets of parental units.....grandparents....and extended family support system. he has never known what it means to be hungry and there was no way that he would EVER know what it is like to be hungry. so i turned back around and walked toward the tax guy's office.

yet, it bothered me.

i was 15 min early for my appointment, so i stopped into caffe roma to buy AC some beans of his favorite roast, sicilian gold. as the gal behind the counter was getting the beans together, i tried to distract myself by taking pics



and looking at the pastries (i hadn't eaten all day)




yet, despite how lovely they looked, i couldn't bring myself to order anything.....i wasn't hungry. the gal bagged up the beans for me and left through their back door....

which led me super close to the tax guy's office. the meeting with the tax guy was done in, like, 10 minutes tops...and of course, the ex-husband came up. detangling oneself, i've found, is complicated.

the image of the guy on the corner was still bothering me when i left the tax guy's office. i remember being very annoyed at myself. i remember thinking "you don't know for sure if that was him...and if it was....this is why there are certain things in place....you didn't want to be found.....you knew there was a chance that this could happen....and that someday he'd go through AA and want to 'make amends' for his closure.....and fuck his closure. you don't owe him anything. you are no longer responsible for him."

responsibility. hmmmmm. now there is a word.

letting go of a sense of responsibility was the nuance that i wasn't expecting.

then i thought to myself, "you know what? you are just doing this mind fuck on yourself because you haven't eaten all day." so i stopped into l'osteria del forno because i had never been. i had heard many good things from SN and JBlo about it. yet, despite having a good chuckle with my very friendly french server, i remember eating the food.....




but not really tasting it. this is no fault of the restaurant. i was completely distracted.

for the first few months after i left the house that night, i kept wishing he would be eaten by a shark. (note: this is not unfeasible considering where he likes to surf....and i thought that would be some poetic justice in him being eaten by one). yet, now.....i realized that i didn't wish him ill. "OMG. when the hell did that happen? when did i go from, i wish you would die and be eaten by a shark...to i don't wish you to experience misfortune? WTF?"

i mean, i knew some stuff had changed a while ago...when i unexpectedly saw those pics in december on JS's flickr page and didn't feel angry. yet, this was a bit different. sigh. so when the very french waiter came by with my change, i made a decision. i would go back to where the guy on the corner was and place the change into the cup to see if it was him. if it was him, then i'd put him in hotel and call his mother. so i walked back to that spot....and interestingly enough, a protest had gathered....



so the guy was no longer there.

then for a fleeting moment, i wondered how i could find out if my ex had reached bottom yet....you know, without actually contacting him. this would be difficult considering that there are no people that we have in common. then i felt this sadness settle in. "ahhh, foodie hunter," i murmured to myself "letting go...means letting go. of everything. even your sense of responsibility." because at the end of the day....and i write this without any anger or malice...but rather matter-of-factly..... i do not want him to be a part of my life. my life is so much better without him.