Thursday, April 30, 2009

cryptic buzzing

so. i think i'm buzzed.

actually, i'm pretty certain that i am.

i suppose i am breaking a cardinal rule: "don't drink and blog."

as i am still ill, i suppose i shouldn't have been drinking, but i definitely felt the need to blow off a bit of steam from the past week. the last presentation was done today and my voice was almost completely gone by the end of it. so what do i do? i head into the city to meet up at circolo

for a circolo lychee cocktail (see above) and some nibbles



and do pop-ins at a couple of other local drinking establishments. oddly enough, i've noticed a change in the amount of alcohol i am able to consume these days. interesting. very interesting. i suppose i am regaining my taste for it. this is a good thing. for a while there, i think i had lost my taste for it. i think that is what happens when you live with an alcoholic and you see what it does to someone. i am so glad that i don't live there anymore. life is so much better now.

also oddly enough, despite my indulging in adult beverage lubrication...it is still fairly easy to not talk to people about what's really on my mind these days. stuff that makes me confused. stuff that makes me sad. stuff that makes me mad at myself for being confused and sad...because i think that i don't have any right to be confused and sad.

emotions really suck.

yep, they really do.

anyway, it is much easier to talk about work isn't it? work is what work is. work is always a distraction. it keeps me busy. there is always something going on...some project to complete....some politics to side step....some trip to plan for, etc. etc. etc.

yet, the other stuff is still there. just kinda hanging out. i keep wondering when it will go away. what if it doesn't go away? now that would be quite unfortunate. quite.

yet we all have our secrets don't we? i suppose i am no different.

circolo: 500 florida street, san francisco, ca 94110, +1 415 553 8560

Monday, April 27, 2009

kissing too many boys

i am miserable.

i have a sore throat, cough, fever, and a headache. i have the flu, i think. don't worry, i haven't been to mexico since november.

what a time to be sick. i have a series of presentations this week. the first one starts tomorrow at 7am. i am currently awaiting components of the presentation from a team member in the uk. it is interesting to know that i'll be presenting components that i didn't create and quite frankly, aren't at the same level of quality of stuff i create. oh well, sucks to be him...since his name are on those components for that very purpose. you do shitty work. you aren't taking me down with you. i know that DH is riding him hard to get him to even produce at the level he is now.... that is why DH gets paid more and has the big title.

being sick makes me even more blunt than usual, which is why i usually remain very quiet when i talk to work people when i am in this state. yet, it really couldn't be avoided this morning when DH and team called me for a pre-presentation discussion.

when i answered the phone, DH exclaimed "eh, you sound horrible". why beat around the bush?

"i'm sick." i croaked.

"you know, if i didn't know any better, i'd say that you've been kissing too many boys." DH said quite cheerfully on the conference call. i don't know what it is about scotsmen. they seem perpetually cheerful.

the statement took me a bit off guard as i proceeded to provide an audio symphony that consisted of a laughing hacking cough....which was followed by the projection of yellow green brownish gunk pods.

"i think that was a lung." DH said quite sagely.

"please don't make me laugh" i pleaded in a mumbled and raspy voice. "i'll go get medicine after the call...i don't want to sound like this tomorrow."

after an appropriate amount of wheezing through the conference call, i left my place to grab some soup at a local thai noodle joint....



and then on the way to the drug store, i saw these random rose petals at the base of a tree.... kinda pretty don't you think?


yes, i am spacey. it happens when i am sick. once i bought my medicine (thank goodness for fsa money) at the drug store, i returned home to down a cocktail of emergn-C



and various cold/flu pills. after i was done with this hot liquid, vitamins and drug routine, i decided that i wanted medicine for the soul....so i pulled out one of the fleur de sel cupcakes (from kara's cupcakes) that the heart sister bought for me. ahhh, see how much she loves me?

these are her favorite and despite not being a huge fan of cakes...i'd have to say these are a fave of mine as well. she bought me four. they are superb. the super duper yummy dark chocolate, the fleur de sel, and the caramel center!!! OMG. these things are going to be my salvation over the next few days. i've been munching on one while i've been typing this posting...and i swear....it must be an elixir or something.

i think i'm starting to feel better.

Friday, April 24, 2009

easter memories

as i was going through some of the bday pics (like the one above), i was thinking about how much fun the party was. it is hard to believe that it was only a bit over a week ago. i think that i'm going to get a lot of good memory mileage out of that party for quite some time. i'm still smiling now as i think of the loved ones all in one place, the yummy dinner at slanted door, and the crazy one-time-appearance-only dress. when i booked the event room at slanted door so many months ago, i had no idea that my bday this year would fall on easter. easter isn't exactly a holiday that i keep track of. in fact, the last time i really had any significant easter memories was quite a long time ago...when i attended a big out-of-state family bash of a then lover. it got me a bit curious to see what i was feeling and thinking at that time, so i pulled out one of my old journals.

i'm very glad that i did as i couldn't help but laugh at myself.

i was shaking my head as i read through the events around that easter so long ago. it also made me feel a little better about myself. i mean, i know that i'm still pretty emotionally retarded on the whole male-female-interpersonal-relationships outside of business thing...but i'm not nearly as bad as i used to be. i'm not saying that i'm all knowledable about it now....i'm just saying that i am incrementally a bit wiser....but not much. nothing like peaking at an old easter memory to remind myself just how socially awkward i really was....and maybe, how i still am.

i had just started seeing ME who was significantly older than i was. they always were during that time. ME called while i was working late one evening at the beginning of march and said

"so what are you doing for easter?"

"hmmm, when is easter? and why are you asking?", i asked while looking at my spreadsheets and not really paying attention.

"it is in april and my mother wants me to bring you up for easter."

now that got my attention. his family lived outside of california and this would also mean i would have to take time off of work. work, as usual, was very busy. "your mother wants you to bring me up for easter." i repeated. then, without missing a beat, my immediate follow up question was "what have you told your mother about me?"

"i told her that you were short, your name was [foodie hunter], and that i picked you up off the street since i was attracted to the way you looked in a leather mini-skirt."

"well, i suppose that means i'll need to go shopping for a leather mini then...wouldn't want to disappoint your mother." i retorted. we met at a party and i definitely wasn't wearing leather.

"i don't remember what i told her about you" [older and wiser foodie hunter commentary: uhhh, liar liar pants on fire]..."i think she wants me to bring you up because everyone else is is bringing their significant other or whatever they want to call them." ME said quite casually. "she probably doesn't want me to feel like a loser since the other kids are bringing people with them." ME has quite a few brothers and sisters. "oh,
if you come...you can't work. you would need to tell me by april 1st....which is about 4 weeks away" ME added. ME was a program manager at a semiconductor company at the time, so he understood being busy at work.

"i need to think about it."
i said, trying to figure out if i could really take the time off of work....and then another thought came to me.... "you know that i can't reciprocate right? you won't be meeting my family....well, not my bio family."

"yeah, that makes you a keeper. no arguments about whose family you spend christmas with."

i'm shaking my head as i type this....at the time, i really had no idea that this was a pretty big deal. really. OMG, i was so clueless. i was still clueless when i was talking to my editor-in-chief about taking the time off....and him being the nosy guy that he was, asked me why i wanted the time off.....and when i told him, his response was

"what is it with you and guys that want you to meet their families?"

"ummm, i dunno". i answered oh so articulately. "do i get the time off or not?"

so i get the time off and it isn't until we are on his family's land that i realize what a freakin' big deal this is and what i have gotten myself into. i was given ME's old room to stay in while he slept in one of the guest rooms. his extended family is ginormous (at least a 100+ people) and there are all of these tables pushed together inside and outside of his huge place....and the food.......so much food....the preparations had been going on for days before we got there. i did a lot of eating during that visit. i discovered that if you kept your plate and your mouth full, it meant that you didn't have to talk very much. it is a sound strategy and one that i would use later....and still do actually.

sigh. i was so out of my element. it makes for a funny easter memory though and gives me hope that maybe years from now, i'll look back on my current social awkwardness and think "hey, at least i'm better now than i used to be....not much maybe....but any progress is good. right?"

hmm. i suppose one can only hope.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

a drink and nibble at cesar


JB dropped by so that we could grab a drink, a nibble, and play some catch up since we didn't get a chance to talk very much at the bday party. it was a toss up between corso and cesar. i asked JB to choose since i visit both pretty regularly. JB ended up choosing cesar.

i do love going to cesar. i've been noshin' here since it opened many years ago and i still enjoy it. i go primarily for the food and the cocktails. oddly enough, there aren't a lot of places to get a good cocktail in berkeley. you would think such a foodie mecca like the gourmet ghetto would have a multitude of places to get a good cocktail...but alas, not so much. yet the cocktails are always lovely at cesar. also, if you are feeling adventurous, you can always ask to see "the book" and have flights of some lovely spirits and liquors. i keep telling myself that i should do a flight of calvados some day.

throughout the years, i have found the bartenders are always great. i have never had a single less than positive experience...and the servers....well, honestly....it really depends on who you get. it can be good....or it can be very bad. this evening the stars were aligned for JB and i ....and we had a good server.

we started out with our cocktails....JB ordered a sidecar and i ordered a french apple sour....

which was supremely yummy. JB also enjoyed the sidecar tremendously. as for our nibbles, JB went for the smoked salmon and trout...

and....big shock....i went for the anchovies.......

the anchovies and the potatoes are typically my two favorite tapas here. they are always quite yummy. sigh. it was a lovely evening.

i definitely think that drinks and nibbles at cesar is one of my favorite things about berkeley.

cesar: 1515 shattuck avenue, berkeley, ca 94709, +1 510 883 0222

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

a crepevine moment

i am decidedly less cranky this evening.

i think it helped that i stopped working around 6:30ish this evening. there is still a crazy amount of stuff to do...but i could tell that i needed to stop for the evening. as i was walking back to my place from one of my local "work" cafes, i noticed that crepevine is moving into my 'hood.

oddly enough, i was just thinking about the crepevine in rockridge the other day when i finished reading tomine's shortcomings. there is a crepe place that shows up in that comic and i'm pretty certain that it is crepevine in rockridge. i've spent quite a bit of time in the building...when it was the edible complex and when it later became crepevine. it was one of the few places in my tax bracket when i lived in rockridge.....many many moons ago. as i was thinking about those days living in rockridge and that particular crepevine outpost, i also recalled a loved one's crepevine moment that i wanted to share with you.

when this loved one told me this story, i remember him prefacing the story with "i don't know if you have anything of a romantic in you or not...", and proceeded to tell me how one afternoon, he was sitting out on the patio at the rockridge crepevine.....eating his breakfast and he saw this woman. this woman had strawberry blonde hair......more strawberry than blonde....and it was in a swept up style. she wore a sleeveless button down shirt, broken-in jeans, and chuck taylors. he said that if he could have picked someone to be his wife in an instant, it would have been her. at the time, i remember thinking that this was quite an interesting story.

what was the foodie hunter's response to this retelling of a rather romantic moment?

the eminently practical foodie hunter's response was "rockridge is a small area. next time you see her, you should say hi.".....the unsaid subtext being "because, well...why wouldn't you?"

"maybe you have a bit of a romantic in you after all", he responded.

hmmmm. maybe not. or alas, maybe so. after all, it has been quite a few years.....and i still remember that crepevine moment.

yet, lets keep that all among us shall we?

i have my cynical hard-ass rep to maintain.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

sometimes, you just have to laugh

i'm taking an early lunch today and noshin' on some leftover pizza. it isn't even technically afternoon yet, and i'm already shaking my head. i can tell, it is going to be one of those days where you just have to laugh....or else, you may cry in frustration. it is probably because i'm tired as well.

soooo....meetings have started around 7am since i've been back from my extended bday weekend and i thought this morning would be no different. yet, alas, when i logged on this morning, i saw that i was put into the "waiting game"....i.e., calls/meetings running over so you just wait until the folks are free. this is one of the inconvenient things about there being an eight hour time difference and thousands of miles between california and the uk.

i decide to be productive though and finally book online my flight to DC in june. this is a work trip. imagine my surprise when my corporate card is rejected and i get a message to call the airline. i just used this card a couple of weeks ago to book my flights to and around the uk. so i call the airline and they tell me the card is being rejected because of the billing address.

i find this utterly fascinating since the address is my company's regional US office and the way the US office has set everything up, all of the credit card statements/bills go directly to them.
i quadruple check the billing address with the airline and yup, the address is correct. so what is going on?

so i call the po-dunk bank that is the holder of the corporate credit card and after speaking with some people, i find out that the source of the problem is that the bank decided to change the zip code of my company's US address on their own....and that is why my online booking didn't go through.

huh?

i mean, you can't make this shit up.

someone at this bank had to manually change the zip code from the correct one to an incorrect one.

when the bank people started apologizing left and right when they realized what happened, i burst out laughing.

i mean, really.

really.

at this point, i just had to laugh because this is just one more oddity associated with the US office and the business choices they make. this is the bank that the regional US office chooses to handle the corporate credit cards? a bank that will introduce typos into corporate account zip codes? the US office has pulled quite a few doozies since i've started with this company. although i work for the corporate office in the uk, .....unfortunately, all of my hr, finances, and IT are run through the regional US office based in the south. sometimes, i wonder if there is something in the water.

let me tell you, it is times like these that i wish that the corporate office would open up the london location so i can go park myself there for a couple of years or so...but then again, when i told the best friend about my pie-in-the-sky dream about living in london she said that i could live there for a year before she'd start sending pictures of my god daughter with these messages about how she's growing up without her god mother.

sigh.

well, enough silliness....i've got a presentation to work on. thanks for indulging my mid-day weirdness. until later dear hearts....

Monday, April 20, 2009

hot, tired, and cranky

jezus. i am tired. just turned in a draft of a project....and i still have to finish my presentation that i'm giving next week. i think i just got even more tired just thinking about that. great. just great.

it is 11:30pm as i type these words and it is hot (for the bay area) and i'm cranky.

cranky cranky cranky.

super cranky.

when i returned to work from my bday extravaganza extended weekend, i was "gifted" with some additional and rather unpleasant responsibility. i'm not certain how i feel about this particular kind of responsibility....i may or may not blog in more specific detail about it later....but it is the major time suck kind of responsibility with no guarantees of a ROI.

if i love you, i could care less about ROI. but that is in my personal life.

in work life, i am all about the ROI.

i was thinking about this quite a bit when i made my early dinner today. it was too hot to turn on the stove, so i settled on a salad. i gathered my inital ingredients that included some micro arugula greens....

regular arugula and baby spinach....

then added some ricotta salata, avocado, and cucumber....

normally, i would have added a vinaigrette and called it a day. but then again, i've been in a "mood" all day...so today things were a bit different. instead, i then thought...hmmmm.....maybe i'll add a few more things....like marcona almonds, cayenne, and the citrus vinaigrette with plenty of zest....


and you know what? it still wasn't enough! i wanted to add something with another color....so a grabbed a small handful of dried cranberries and tossed that on top....


there was a lot going on in the salad today....which i suppose, was actually reflective of what has been going on inside of me...lots of random stuff coming from everywhere.

as i was sitting in my office, noshin' on my ever so complicated and fussy salad...i realized that i don't know how it is all going to shake out.

i suppose i'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

the slanted door bday menu

this was the menu from the bday dinner at slanted door on the 12th. everything was served family style. my favorite tastes of the evening were the Becker Lane pork belly, the duck confit salad, and the catfish....

Starters
* Prather Ranch beef carpaccio with roasted peanuts, rau ram and fresh lime juice
* Spicy Tuna Tartar with sesame rice crackers
* Vegetarian spring rolls with tofu, shiitakes, cabbage, mint and peanut sauce
* Crispy imperial rolls with shrimp, pork, glass noodles and peanuts
* Wood oven roasted Becker Lane tea smoked pork belly with roasted organic grapes

Salads
* Five-spiced duck confit with organic baby frisée, blood orange, and sherry-shallot vinaigrette
* Green papaya with tofu, rau ram and roasted peanuts

Meat/Seafood
* Caramelized tiger prawns with garlic, onions and chili sauce
* Caramelized catfish claypot with cilantro, ginger and thai chilies
* Niman Ranch shaking beef cubed filet mignon, watercress, red onions and lime dipping sauce

Vegetables
* Hodo Soy Beanery organic lemongrass tofu with fresh shiitake mushrooms, onions and chili sauce
* Mariquita Farm fava shoots with toasted garlic and caramelized shallots

Other Savory
* Vegetarian glass noodles with tofu skin, fresh black trumpet mushrooms, and oyster mushrooms
* Jasmine rice

Desserts
* Salted Caramel Ice Cream
* Beignets
* Blood Orange Sorbet

why this birthday was so important

there was a bit of confusion quite a few months ago when i announced to the dear hearts that i was going to have a blow out bday party at slanted door.

yet, for those that do not know me as well.... the reasons for the confusion include.....

  • i don't really like parties all that much. i'm more of a small groups or 1:1 kind of person
  • being the center of attention isn't exactly something i seek out [massive understatement]
  • i rarely celebrate my bday. i don't mind getting older. that isn't it. i rarely celebrate my bday because when i was a kid, bdays weren't exactly the most positive experiences....and hence i learned really quick to expect nothing from bdays.
despite these reasons, i wanted to have a party this year....and not a little party....but a freakin' big deal party in the private dining room of one of the city's top restaurants and according to saveur, one of the 12 restaurants that "matter". but i didn't pick slanted door because of reviews. i actually booked the room well in advance of the saveur article.....i mean, you have to. i booked the room months and months ago. i picked slanted door because i love the food and i have wanted to rent out the private room for years. yet there didn't seem to be an appropriate occassion.

it felt important to have a party this year. i felt the need to create my own milestone and to mark the occasion of having the most unexpectedly amazing year of my life. i also wanted to thank the dearest loved ones for allowing me the chance to be a part of their lives and for being there for me....when the world and life that i thought i was going have...changed in an instant.

for the foodie hunter who prides herself on being so independent, a year and a half ago...she found herself in a position of her worst nightmares.....she was hurt and vulnerable. yet, her loved ones rallied around her....and gave her the support and love she needed....without even asking....because asking for things is by far the most difficult thing for the foodie hunter to do.

an incredible amount of experiences have occurred over the past year. i have learned so much....about those that i love and about myself. each unexpected experience and moment over the past year have been these lovely gifts. i am so lucky. no matter what the future brings... i know that i will carry each of these moments with me forever.

so dear hearts, as i mentioned during my toast to friendship on the evening of the 12th....

thank you so much for coming from all over to the party.

i love you all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

why the foodie hunter shouldn't drink

okay.

today is SN's bday and the festivities began at the tonga room. despite having been born in san francisco and grown up in the bay area, i have never been to this particular institution.

yet, when you go to a tikki bar, how can you not have a frou frou drink?

the thing is about frou frou drinks though..... is that i don't have them very often. you don't realize just how much you've drunk until it is a wee bit too late. the frou frou drinks hit all the quicker when you are already a bit punchy from working since 6am and sorta skipped lunch since you wanted to be there for the party. this is an example of me being overly ambitious and how this ambition bit me in the ass.

so there i was sipping on my frou frou drink, all relaxed, looking at my surroundings,

sitting at one of the tables... when SN mentions this guy she knows and how he is coming to the party. i remember him from before and i nod knowingly and say off handedly "is this the man whore?"

now in my defense, this is the nickname that this particular crowd has given him and i think he knows all about his nickname. it is my understanding that he's worked pretty hard to get it over the years. i also feel compelled to say that i do not believe that those who enjoy open sex with many people on an ongoing basis are "whores". i'm more of the, "if everyone is agreeable and knows what's going on that is their business." i was just trying to acknowledge that i knew who he was.....even though i don't hang out with this particular group of people.

little did i know a woman sitting near me had gotten involved with this guy....or thought she was involved...for like, a year-and-a-half and told me as such.

"oh shit." i thought to myself.

oh shit indeed.

i bet those of you who know me very well are kneeled over with laughter....much like SN was at that moment. i am typically well known for my discretion. yet, the foodie hunter senses were dulled due to the sweet syrupy alcoholic drinks that she sucked down like it was soda water. foolish foodie hunter. the woman then proceeded to go into a rant about having to view the guy's various companions. she said that she knew and that she didn't at the same time.

i took this as a cue to go grab some nibbles from the happy hour buffet.


when i returned, i apologized for speaking out of turn to the folks surrounding area and then proceeded to do a couple of other relatively harmless and silly things throughout the evening. now that i am home, i am just shaking my head, remembering the evening, and thinking that this is one of the reasons why the foodie hunter shouldn't drink....

Monday, April 13, 2009

best birthday ever...

no pics at the moment.

just wanted to say that i had the best birthday ever.


i even wore the dress.

it is all good.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

quick and hearty...

i am looking forward to friday. it will be the beginning of a "mini" vacation. i have friday off and i won't be returning to work until wednesday. i'm actually going to make a concerted effort to not check work email or do anything work related during those five days. i think i really need to step away for a bit.

i was thinking how much i am looking forward to this weekend while i was making an early dinner today. i love how it doesn't get dark so early anymore....it makes me feel less like a curmudgeonly cave-dwelling hermit. now, i'm just a curmudgeonly hermit minus the cave. yet, it also allows me to show you some things that i make for dinner.....in this case, i decided to make pasta with spicy sausage, asparagus, fried garlic cloves (that i had left over when making flavored olive oil)


and arugula

it is one of those hearty and easy meals i like so much. first i set a pot of water to boil for the fresh pasta. then, i sauteed the sliced sausage (a hot link in this instance) then removed the slices from the pan.

then i added some irish butter, the fried garlic cloves, and chili flakes.....swirled that around and then added the asparagus......

and eventually the sausage again.....

and the freshly cooked pasta.....

stirred and mixed.....
and then the arugula...


then mixed it again....

and then plated it....


and munched on it while i was finishing up some additional work. there is quite a bit leftover. i have a strong feeling that i know what i'll be having for lunch tomorrow....and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

leftover moments


i actually started this post a couple of days ago. yet, did not feel like i could finish it until today.

i wrote a couple of paragraphs, then deleted it....then wrote some more....then deleted that too. i think i am having difficulty expressing myself at the moment. i think it is because i am processing a few things that i'm having a hard time putting to words....even through the guise of semi-anonymity. i think not being able to put what is going on into words, really sucks.

i notice that there is a lot of "i think" this and "i think" that.....emotions unfortunately, aren't as easy to figure out as i would like. as a result. i know i am feeling some anxious energy that is even effecting my dreams. sometimes, it would be nice to take certain emotions, stick them in a box of adhesive acid, and then shelve the box in an unreachable location.

work has been a welcome distraction. big shock.

yet, i can still feel things processing and churning in the background...when i work, when i cook, and even when i nosh on leftovers. from a purely practical perspective, the leftover spinach and kale lasagna has worked out pretty well. one of the leftover meals i made included a hunk of the lasagna


and then i added a side dish of roasted asparagus and shiitake mushrooms with garlic.

the heartiness of this sort of meal is pretty comforting.

yet, at the moment, i am finding that food only assuages so much.