Thursday, December 31, 2009

blue moon

i'm sick.

so much for best laid plans.


i've pretty much slept all day today as well. my awake state is not for extended periods as i feel myself just become incredibly tired. i think my body is definitely forcing me to take a breather. i will be very surprised if i make it to midnight during this current stint of "awakeness" as i type this posting.

i did manage to leave my place briefly this afternoon as i needed to grab some medicine as well as some soup from a non-usual noodle place.


i think i've had enough of " i recognize moments you" for a while. i also think that being sick has kind of messed with my taste buds......nothing seems to taste right at the moment.

yet, alas, i did want to mark the date....i mean, it is new year's eve and interestingly enough, there is a blue moon tonight.



blue moons rarely occur on new year's eve.



ha! i couldn't resist. i mean, what were you expecting? something all deep and shit? hey, i'm sick and i am totally entitled to put forth a bit of cheese on my blog.

despite being sick, in a somewhat mental daze, and not participating in my original new year's eve plans, i am actually quite happy....curled up in my bed, under my flannel sheets....and feeling quite snug.

it is good to be home. i like being home. i like my own bed.

well i think it is time for me to go back to my sleep state.

here is to another year dear hearts......i wouldn't be surprised if this is yet another year that keeps us on our toes.

sending you many hugs and all of my love.......

me

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"no comic book today?"

oh life.

if life was a goddess i would murmur to her beneath my breath "you have a funny sense of humor" and quickly look up, down, and to the sides......anticipating any potential lightening.....as goddesses....from what i have read....don't really have much tolerance for insolence.

yet, life is really funny sometimes.

a couple of things happened to me today that made me remember that life sometimes has its own plan for me despite me being off in my own little world.

today was going to be my grand day off and was filled with ambitious plans. i was going to have breakfast at OTD on bush, lounge at bittersweet, take in an exhibit, book my upcoming flight to london, another flight to nyc, see about making reservations at saison, pay off a bunch of bills, and do some various paperwork.

it was going to be a productive day.

what did i do today?

i slept.

really.

i woke up. i would get something to eat and/or drink. then i went back to bed.

sometimes our bodies have other plans for us...and mine was telling me that i had been burning up so much energy that it was time to "REST. NOW. FUCK YOUR PLANS."

so much for my productive day off.

my teetering between a zombie awake state and a zombie sleep state continued until after 5pm. then i grabbed a shower and decided that i really should leave the house for a bit and took a walk to comic relief. after all, it is wednesday....and new stuff gets put out on the shelves on wednesday.

ember was being her usual self......

and so was ash......


and both were feeling pretty sociable. while i enjoy comic relief's extensive comic book selection, i must admit that i also visit comic relief for the opportunity to pet ash and ember. yes, i am a dork like that.

then as i was walking home, i decided to pop into oscar's for a decidedly yummy un-PC burger. this is not a place where you know which farm the grass-fed sustainable raised cow came from.

after i ordered, paid, and picked up my cheeseburger and fries.....

then settled into a table...picking at my fries....while reading my book. one of the hipster guys (there seems to be a clique of old-timers and a clique of young hipster guys complete with the requisite dark skinny jeans, tats, slouchy knit caps, etc.) decides that he is going to refill my pretty full salt shaker at my table.

ummm. ok.

even though the majority of the other tables in the place are empty and wouldn't it make sense to start with those tables?

ummm. ok.

i'm still reading at this point and picking at my fries as he takes the shaker and puts it back on my table. then he decides that he is going to play around and act like he is going to take my food by moving around my tray. with my eyes still on the pages of my book and i just shake my head and smile.

i suppose that wasn't enough of a reaction....so he decides to prod a bit further with "what? no comic book today?"

now he got my attention. i looked at him straight on and said "actually, i have one in my bag. i'm pretty predictable."

"aww, naw. i just know my customers pretty well." he replied as he glided away and i went back to eating and reading my book.

as i was walking home, i just shook my head and thought "life is funny."

why is life funny? not only did my plans for a productive day off go right out the window....i haven't been to oscar's in over 5 months. at least. because i've been making more of an effort to only eat burgers where i know which farm the sustainable raised cow came from. sigh.

before then, i maybe went about once every couple of months. bottom line: i don't go that often.

yet, this guy knew who i was.

so much for thinking that i am anonymous.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

boccalone lard caramels. my reward.

kay.

i'm pretty punchy. it has been a couple of late nighters which is why many of you haven't seen me much on flickr, twitter, the blog, etc. etc. .....my brain energy for the last couple of days has been focused on finishing up a project for one of the execs.

while i am tired, i have been trying to take care of myself. since i've returned from philly, i've been doing late night cooking of large batches of things like super spicy roasted brussels sprouts, roasted delicata squash with dark sesame (an experiment that worked out nicely btw....just use dark sesame oil instead of olive oil when roasting), braised kale, and wild rice...


so that i have good and nourishing things on hand to throw together as leftovers or quickly add/modify them to make a different dish on the fly. yet, what did i reach for as soon as i sent my slide deck to the exec a few minutes ago?

i reached for the boccalone lard caramels from humphry slocombe.


you bet i saved them from my visit last week. i knew i was going to need a reward....something special to look forward to at the end of this project. i took my time with my reward.... wanting to savor the experience as much as possible.

when you open the bag....the aroma is definitely savory pork.


just to be clear, this is not a bad thing. it is a pretty great thing.

then i took a bite.....

ahhhhhhh.

the tender succulent
sweet n' savory caramel was lovely......similar to the duck fat pecan pie, you can taste the pork...and it is as if it was always meant to be there.

the melody of flavors also unexpectedly reminded me of childhood. there is this caramelized braised pork dish (thit kho) that i grew up with that was one of my favorite dishes.....its flavors are lovely melody of of sweet and savory....and is a dish you rarely see in restaurants but every family has a version of it. it is one of those dishes that is an epitome of comfort. i can't believe that i had forgotten about it. i almost started to weep and laugh at the same time.....from tiredness....yes....but also at amazement at how a single piece of well executed candy can elicit so many emotions through taste, flavor, and aroma.

amazing. just amazing.

so thank you humprhy slocombe....for yet another lovely treat.

i think it is time for a nap.

humphry slocombe, 2790 harrison street (at 24th), san francisco, ca 94110, + 1 415 550 6971, hours: seven days a week, 12pm to 9pm, cash only

Sunday, December 27, 2009

christmas crack

hmmmm. christmas is now over and the new year is almost upon us. yikes! i was speaking to the heart sister last night about how the past year feels like it has flown by.....but how it has also felt likes years at the same time. so much has happened over the past year and it makes me both excited and a bit apprehensive about what the upcoming year will bring.

life these days isn't boring....that is for certain.

yet i had a lovely christmas .....and i hope you, dear reader, did as well. as usual, i went to BF and DB's swanky place for their annual christmas white elephant party.

what was a bit different this year was that i decided to make spicy dark chocolate bark with brown sugar roasted pecans ....and sprinkled with maldon sea salt. there is nothing subtle about this candy. it is spicy. it is salty. it is decadently wicked...and somehow, very appropriate for my christmas party hosts.

so on christmas morning, i was signin' along to "all i want for christmas"....



on repeat......which probably annoyed the crap out of my neighbors through my super thin walls....but heck...it was christmas. as the music was playing in the background, i roasted the pecan halves until they were done (i.e., until they smelled done), then bathed them in a heated and blended mixture of bourbon, vanilla, butter, brown sugar, and cayenne......


then set them aside....

then i chopped up some dark chocolate (in this case it was 62% cacao...although 70% also works quite nicely as well),

added some cayenne, and grated in some cinnamon.....


while i put on a large pot of water to simmer.....


once it was at a simmer, i turned the water off.

then i put the stainless steel bowl of chocolate, cayenne, and cinnamon on top of the hot pot and slowly stired the chocolate as it melted through.....



until it was ready.....

then i added about half of the butter brown sugared pecans into the chocolate...


talk about some porn....

then poured the mixture on a parchment paper sitting on top of a chilled sheet and added the rest of the pecans to top....


then grabbed the maldon sea salt....



and sprinkled the flaky salt on top of the gooey dark chocolate nutty goodness....

then chilled it for over an hour while i puttered around my place and got ready for the party.


then right before i left my place, i chopped up the bark into pieces.


as i sat on BART with my christmas goodies (i.e., bulleit bourbon for DB, kiehl's for BF, and the homemade candy), i had a moment when i started to wonder if the party guests were going to "go for" the chocolate bark. i mean, i knew that DB and BF would like it ....but i wasn't certain about everyone else.


yet my moment of fear was put aside later in the evening when people yelled to me across the room that the homemade candy was crack....and was finished off.

hmmmm. christmas crack? i couldn't help but grin a guilty and self-satisfied grin. it was probably one of the best compliments i have ever received.

Friday, December 25, 2009

duck fat pecan pie from humphry slocombe

it is christmas morning.

i am singin' along to music....making spicy candied roasted pecans which will later be enrobed in dark chocolate and sprinkled with maldon sea salt.....and chilled into a candy bark for the party later. yet, as i am doing all of this...i...of course...am treating myself with nibbling on this delicious duck fat pecan pie that i bought from humphry slocombe yesterday....



this is a lovely confection. i would describe it more of a cake than a pie....it is actually a bit of a hybrid between both a cake and a pie. it has the sweetness of a pecan pie (but not as sweet) with a cake texture...but a pie crust at the bottom.

you can actually taste the duck fat...and it isn't a bad thing. it adds a savory element that isn't intrusive...it is as if it was always meant to be there.

it is brilliant. just brilliant.

it is a lovely way to enjoy my christmas morning. sigh.

humphry slocombe, 2790 harrison street (at 24th), san francisco, ca 94110, + 1 415 550 6971, hours: seven days a week, 12pm to 9pm, cash only

Thursday, December 24, 2009

i wanna lick it @ humphry slocombe

those of you that have been reading my blog for a while already know that i am a huge fan of humprhy slocombe and even have a mini shrine to their wonderful and amazing ice cream on my flickr page.

if you follow humphry slocombe on twitter or are a fan of their facebook page, you know that they will announce which days you can get free topping such as hot fudge, butter scotch, or...as i was able to taste today...the bourbon caramel sauce....


yum.......but you have to say the key phrase which is "i wanna lick it"...which is pretty cheeky and aligned with the delicious wickedness of their treats. i have to admit that i felt a bit shy about saying it aloud...so i kind of said it softy to the lady behind the counter this afternoon. i mean, it is rather naughty isn't it? anyway, i went for my favorite flavors today which are the balsamic caramel and the secret breakfast (bourbon and corn flakes) which went rather amazingly well with the bourbon caramel sauce.


it was heavenly. just heavenly.

this is one of my favorite places and to me...is a part of being "home". naturally, i also bought a couple of other treats for me which included the boccalone lard caramels and a duck fat pecan pie.


i haven't dipped into those yet....but will let you know what i think later. i've tried buying the caramels at boccalone before and they were unfortunately sold out....so i was thrilled to see that they had some left today as well as one of the pecan pies. i have a feeling that i will love them. humphry slocombe is one of the few places that i am willing to try whatever they decide to make.....i love their treats that much and have never been disappointed after more than a dozen visits.

humphry slocombe, 2790 harrison street (at 24th), san francisco, ca 94110, + 1 415 550 6971, hours: seven days a week, 12pm to 9pm, cash only

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

@ home

i made it home around 10ish last night. i felt such an incredible amount of relief just to be home.

it was lovely to be in my own bed and wake up to weather that was well above freezing. it was lovely to do some work on one of my projects while sipping on blue bottle coffee and noshing on waffle at guerilla cafe....



yes, i am drinking coffee.

i find this is inevitable while i am in the uk as i need to be "on" despite the jet lag....and as i had a large project that needed to be shipped out today, i decided today was not going to be the day that i would go back "off" of coffee.

i really do love coffee.

i really love being home.

i love both of these things so much that it offsets things like getting another project today that must be completed by, like, monday.

happy holidays.

i just cackled when i saw the request come in.

of course....of course....it must be completed by then.

good thing that i actually like and respect this person....and i know that he works even harder than i do ....and i understand why it must be completed by then and why he has asked me to do it. on the positive side....it probably means that i don't have to stop drinking coffee for a few more days....hmmmmm....coffee....yum yum .....particularly when it is blue bottle coffee.

it is good to be home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

last day in philly?

"is this my last day in philly?"

hmmm. that is the key question isn't it?

i am at the airport once more. i loaded up on some goat curry (see top pic) at a place downtown and of course, paid another visit to the naked chocolate cafe as well.


so my stomach is ready for the flight...but alas....are the airline gods going to allow this flight to arrive safely in sf tonight?

this time, the airport looks normal busy and not freakin-chaos-because-of-the-storm-or-airport-shut-down-crazy.

so maybe....just maybe.... i'll actually get to be safe at home later tonight.

i really hope so.

i've just posted the set of what may have been my last day in philly.....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiehunter/sets/72157622928222219/

hope to see you all soon on the west coast...

much love,

me

pensive in philly

this posting isn't about food btw.....

i know that i am an analytical person. i am someone that is attracted to tangible evidence and logical paths of thinking. yet, i also understand that sometimes things happen for a reason and while i may not understand that reason at the given moment, i will understand later.

a couple of days ago, i decided to approach this whole philly storm adventure from the framework of "i am here. this is beyond my control. what is it that i am suppose to learn here? what is it that i am suppose to see? and experience?" i decided to be open to what each day would bring.

taken from this framework, i've had an interesting experience here in philly. despite meeting philly under auspicious circumstances, i think philly may be added to the list of cities that i think i could live. snow and all. it is an intriguing city and very different than the cities on my list. yet, each city on my list....new york, london, hong kong, paris, washington d.c., chicago, and now philly....are all very different. each with its unique character.

this isn't the only thing that i have discovered about philly....there are a couple of things that i may share over the course of the next couple of weeks....yet, one of the most surprising experiences included very innocuous interactions with a young man .....that i woke up thinking about this morning as i watched the sun rise.

for a couple of hours the last couple of days, i stopped into a local place to fire up the laptop to work while housekeeping cleaned the room and there was this young man attending customers. he reminded me quite a lot of B when i first met him....hmmmmm....what has it been now?....hmmmm... it must have been over ten years ago. yet, it wasn't just a similarity in physical appearance and carriage that made me alert....or do a bit of a double-take... it was the way the young man looked at me during my visits....that is what made me do a double-take....because it was the way that B used to look at me when he was that age..... the eyes that lighted up....with some small secret smile... as if i had done something that he thought was "soooooo cutttteeeee" to which my typical response would be something along the lines of sticking my tongue out at him or scrunching my face in an effort to appear decidedly less cute.

i, of course, did not respond that way to this young man that looked so much like B. i was rather surprised that i even noticed. i'm not good at noticing these sort of things unless the guy is really obvious. i also didn't freak out when i noticed. i know...big shock.... given my history. i just took it all in stride and was polite.

this morning as i thought of that young man, it made me realize just how young i was as well when B and i first met. it also made me recall that despite how we ended.... there were some really lovely moments....and how a couple of years ago.... all of the heart wrenching pain was too incredibly present for me to remember....or even want to remember....those lovely moments.

while i have no interest in having B in my life now, i found it interesting that i could look back upon my time with warm remembrance....and perhaps when i think of B, i should think of the young man he used to be...so full of warmth, life, and passion....and that B....is the one that will always have a place within me.

well, it is time for me to complete some more work for a few hours before i grab some lunch.

i'll keep you updated dear hearts. i am suppose to fly back to san francisco tonight....but then again, we've heard that before....

Monday, December 21, 2009

i'm still in philly

yup.

i'm still here.

the flight was canceled last night and there were no more flights out to the west coast by the time we were allowed off the plane.

it wasn't too bad as i ended up working from my hotel. yet, i did take an afternoon break before returning to my hotel to do some more work. i posted another set of philly pics on my flickr page.....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiehunter/sets/72157623047629010/

hopefully, i'll be able to make it home tomorrow night....

hugs to all-

me

Sunday, December 20, 2009

unexpected afternoon in philly...pics posted...

heya.

i am about to board my flight to vegas....and then go from vegas to sf. yet, i wanted to let you know that i've posted the pics from my afternoon in philly on flickr.

here is a link to the set:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiehunter/sets/72157622914786625/


the above pic is the european style bittersweet hot chocolate from the naked chocolate cafe downtown. if i get a moment, i'll tell you more about it later....but for now, i better shut down in prep for boarding.

until later.....

me

Saturday, December 19, 2009

stuck in philly

i'm stuck in philly.

i am rather amazed that i even made it to philly.

my flight took off from manchester airport about 11am uk time on saturday. i knew something was up before my flight took off ......as i was sipping on my sparkling elderflower water.....


i saw that flights to nyc and other eastern seaboard states were being canceled on the flight board. right before we landed in philly, the pilot warned us that the plane might be re-routed to boston as the winds were pretty high around philly. yet, we landed and then i saw how the majority of the airport was empty.

it was a bit eerie.

i was also in a state of shock to hear that my flight wasn't canceled.

i mean, take a look at this weather...

wouldn't you think it would be canceled?

yet, we boarded the plane and hung out on the plane for about an hour or so.




then the pilot said that the airport was shut down and we would have to de-plane. then the once we de-planed the gate agents asked for us to stay put in the gate area which was such an odd request. if the airport was shut down it meant that there would be no more flights going out....but they asked us to stay....and it was another hour that went by before they indicated that the flight was officially canceled and then we call stood in line to arrange our new boarding assignments.

after a couple of hours of doing that, i stood/sat in line for more than a couple of hours for taxi. i'll probably talk more about that experience in a bit. the reason why the line for the taxis were taking such a long time is that there aren't a lot of taxi drivers that are willing and have the experience to drive under these freakin conditions. the driver i ended up with had been driving in philly for 20 years and had lots of experience driving in czech republic...so it was kind of morbidly fascinating to see us do a skid n' drive across the frozen roads.

i am not joking.

skidding. swerving. frozen roads (no salt). multiple stops to clear the windshield.

it was quite an adventure.

it all worked out well as his cab was one of 3-4 cars i saw on the road, so it wasn't like there were a lot of other cars out and about to hit. i was actually pretty calm during the whole event since the driver seemed to know how to handle it and was very cautious.

yet, i was glad to get to my downtown hotel and grab a very late night meal.


i'm so incredibly tired. yet, while i was eating i recalled standing/sitting for hours on the floor in the taxi line....and how sometimes a random moment of kindness can make a difference. a couple of the ladies in front of me were sitting down and playing cards. i decided to delve into some of the chocolate that i bought in england and offered some to the ladies as well as two other people (traveling independently) sitting within arm's distance to me. the looks on their faces were rather priceless and the smiles....my goodness...the big smiles they all had while they dug into the chocolate. it was as you could literally see weight being lifted off their shoulders.

i know that i can be quite the cynical anti-social shit at times but this isn't the first time i've done something like this.

i find that when travelers are all stuck and feeling a bit desolate....a little bit of random kindness can make all of the difference. it changes the mood of people considerably. something unexpectedly unconditionally positive makes things a bit easier to bear.

what i wasn't expecting though...was seeing someone standing near the ladies to go off to buy pretzels and then start offering to share them with a bunch of people....or seeing additional strangers in our immediate vicinity speak more, share more, and joke about the circumstances.

it was like watching a virus.

humans are so fascinating aren't we? we walk and pretend that we don't see the hundreds of other people that we pass. yet, there are moments like sitting on a floor waiting for a taxi....where it doesn't matter where you are from and how a bit of chocolate can be a catalyst for a positive moment among such circumstances.

well. i am beat. it is time for bed.

we will see if i am able to make the journey back to the bay tomorrow. thankfully, my flight isn't until the evening....so i'll have a bit of heads up to see if the airport is going to be shutdown again.

until later dear hearts.....

sending you all of my love,

me