Monday, May 31, 2010

moments of awakeness

hmmm.

i am still a bit spacey from my accumulated tiredness and jet lagness. yes, i know i just made up a word or term. i do that a lot. being tired, spacey, or just being the regular me....making up words is one of the benefits of self-publishing. i've also stayed away from the computer quite a bit for the past couple of days. again, probably a reaction and needing a break away from many things. i can feel my body telling me that it is time to recover from the onslaught of travel and various stressors of the past couple of weeks.

sometimes while i have been awake over the past few days, i didn't/don't even know for certain if i am truly awake. yes, i am walking around and experiencing, feeling, and sensing things....but sometimes it feels like i am truly not awake. i'll pop out to a market or bakery to stock up on a couple of things, then have a nap, then get up to run another errand, and then come back home to sleep for a bit. it makes for an odd day or two since i've returned from the uk.

despite this sleepy awakeness, i did manage to try something new this week. i try to taste something new once a week. i don't always write about it because....well....sometimes i've tried some truly crappy things and hence, decide to not write about it. but my new thing this week wasn't crappy at all, it was quite good. i tried these whole wheat croissants from la boulange.

yes. i know. la boulange is a chain.

yes. i know. the words "whole wheat" and "croissants" are probably eliciting outraged reactions from croissant purists out there.

oh well.

if patisserie philippe was in my 'hood, then i would go there....which have croissants that remind me of the ones i had in the marais. but alas, patisserie philippe is not in my 'hood. so i recently dropped into the la boulange on pine (which i haven't been to in years) and took a look a around and saw these whole wheat croissants. i figured, hmmm...why not? so i ordered a couple of the croissants as well as their three seed baguette.

i munched on my warm three seed baguette while walking down filmore and thought it was tasty. (disclaimer, when i am eating a baguette in the bay area i don't think of it as a "baguette" but rather nice crusty bread or else i would only eat baguettes while i am in paris. yes, mind tricks like this do help with self-delusion and various attachments to food memories. no, i don't have to do that with croissants and no i don't understand why i don't have to. emotional food attachments make no sense and don't have to.) anyway, i waited until i was at home to try one of the whole wheat croissants and i was pleasantly surprised. the croissant was also good.


it was filled with airy light layers...with just a bit of chewiness.


hmmm. who knew? i have a feeling these will be on my regular rotation.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

utterly spacey

at this moment i feel what i imagine what it is like to be intoxicated.

i say "what i imagine what it is like" is because i haven't been able to experience the luxury of an ongoing intoxicated state without being quite ill. yet, i feel like i am looking at the world through a very unfocused mind. i can actually feel the difference in the processing time of the synapses within the brain. i've done a few things today where i eventually caught myself (quite mortified of course) after i had done them. the illogical reasoning behind some of my accidents and actions reinforced that i am utterly spacey today.

objectively, i shouldn't be surprised at my spacey mindset. yesterday, i traveled for over 24 hours. this included about 6 hours at frankfurt airport. thank goodness for status and being able to access the lounges where i was able to nibble on things like this liverwurst sandwich


which is something they make for you in the senator lounge. yet, despite being able to park it in an airport lounge, it does make sense how the past couple of weeks have caught up with me. today is truly the first "break" i have had over the past couple of weeks. i suppose my body is in recovery mode and is protesting the pistons firing at normal foodie hunter warp speed.

it is a bit disconcerting to know when my brain is not as readily available as it usually is.

yet, i wanted everyone to know that i made it home ok. albeit quite jet lagged and spacey, but i am ok.

i think it is time for me to go back to bed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

frankfurter in frankfurt

i couldn't resist.

i am at the frankfurt airport and am on my way home.

just thinking about arriving and being home in san francisco is enough to lift my spirits considerably.

see you soon!

many hugs and love,

me

Friday, May 28, 2010

blackbird fly

you don't own me

Sunday, May 23, 2010

manchester rituals


location: manchester, england
location time: almost 9pm
local date: sunday, 23rd of may

i made it to manchester.

after i arrived, i proceeded to go through my rituals of gathering some sweeties for the office mates as well as snacks that i haven't tried before. sometimes i like what i try and sometimes i don't. it was actually on my way back to my hotel that i saw these international "crisps" (i.e., potato chips) in a vending machine (see top pic). i was already loaded down with the sweeties, snacks, beverages, and my obligatory fashion magazine (which i read while soaking in a bath ...another must-do post-travel ritual).

one of the snacks that i liked this afternoon are these crisps by phileas fogg called "sea salt & indonesian black peppercorn".


it is peppery....like real pepper and does not taste artificial.


i think if i see some of the other flavors in their line, i'll give them a shot.

i also wanted to share something non-food related. i notice that in the uk, quite a few of the fashion magazines have product giveaways bundled with their mags. in this case, it was a canvas bag by alice temperley. i do love her dresses. while i will be taking the bag home with me, i do wonder if i will be using it. at first i thought it is a great size for random things that one buys at a grocery store or small things at a farmers market.....


but then i realized that folks may be a wee taken aback from the design, especially if it is first thing in the morning at the sf ferry building market for example.

well, i think i am off to bed. my first meeting stats at 7am tomorrow. oh joy.

xxooo

stop over in heathrow


local date: sunday, 23rd of may

location: heathrow airport

local time: 1:50pm


i am lounging at the lounge. completely jet lagged and exhausted. i had a feeling it was going to be one of "those" trips once i landed in denver to make my connection to heathrow. there were lots of winds and thunderstorms around the middle of north america which made for a very bumpy ride. i kept thinking the turbulence would temper out once we were out of the storms, but then for some odd reason we kept running into it over the next 8 hours or so.it is quite an extended time to be on edge. i, of course, thought much of loved ones during this time. i'll probably speak or write more about that later...when i am not so exhausted.

my next flight out to manchester doesn't leave for a few more hours so i may be taking a nap here in a few minutes. perhaps this exhaustion led to poor decisions on my part as well. i thought that i could quickly drink a bailey's on the rocks and that it would "put me out" so that i could sleep during the turbulence.


now, given that my tolerance for alcohol is pretty slim, i found out within a couple of hours that this wasn't going to work. i thought it would as i drifted off to sleep. but then one of the passengers walking down the aisle kicked me when they walked by which woke me up. then it was odd. i started to feel ill. so thankfully, as i was pretty close to the restroom i was able to get there in time. so much for the alcohol induced sleep plan. being ill in an airplane restroom is rather unpleasant.

that so didn't work out.

yet i was very glad when we landed in heathrow and i was able to make my way to the lounge. one can spread out, be on the computer, be hydrated, fed....



and there are even shower rooms in this lounge. i've never used them but understand the benefits of them.

well, i think i really will take advantage of the lounge emptying out a bit to take a nap on one of the larger chairs. unfortunately, this means giving up access to one of the only power outlets.

until later dear hearts,

xxooo

Thursday, May 20, 2010

water spinach

when i was a neophyte, i loved my veggies. well, i should probably clarify that a bit, i loved the fresh veggies that were prepared by my mom and myself (i started early in the kitchen) as opposed to the frozen lima beans boiled to death that somehow qualified as a "vegetable" and covered with this equally soft mushy yellow stuff that i would later find out was margarine. this, of course, was not prepared by me but rather another branch of the family tree and was rather indicative of how they thought "vegetables" were cooked.

when i look back during that time, i feel rather fortunate to have had exposure to a huge variety of vegetables and various ways of preparing them. i must admit that it broke my heart a tiny bit to prepare the lima bean atrocity for B. when we were together. he too was exposed to that dish as a child, yet we had completely different reactions to it. he liked it. i thought it was an abomination. yet, because he liked it so much, i would prepare it for him on occasion, just the way he liked it (i.e., overcooked mushy artificial butter and all). while this may sound a bit odd, this is not unusual actually for me. i've done this for many loved ones....made dishes specifically for their palate, taste buds, and underlying food memories. there was something about this dish that reminded him of pleasant memories of childhood. i thought this was hilarious but appropriate since his mother (who i loved and still miss) hates to cook. just hates it. i think it shows in her cooking. yet, B was probably just thrilled with the fact that she even made anything.

i was reminded this morning of how much our palates are impacted by what we eat as children. my "work day" was a bit earlier than usual today as i started as 6am. as a result, i started feeling particularly peckish about 10:30, so i went into the fridge to see what i should eat between now and saturday....particularly the veggies as i will be heading to the uk on saturday and i try to avoid wasting food. i still had the bundle of water spinach that i recently picked up at the "heart of the city farmers' market" aka the farmers' market at civic center. i do love that market quite a bit actually. it is the antithesis of the ferry building farmers market, but i think there is room in my heart to love all sorts of farmers markets. the reason why i love this one is the abundance of asian herbs and vegetables i am able to pick up here...including water spinach....


which was my favorite vegetable as a child. not only did i like the various ways it could be prepared, i liked the silky texture of the leaves combined with the slight firm almost crunchiness of the stems when they are lightly stir-fried. i decided that i would make my breakfast this morning consist of some spicy water spinach, some scrambled eggs with green onion, and left over rice. this is a pretty go-to standard quick-n-easy standard for me.....leftover rice (since i usually have a pot of cooked grains in the fridge at all times), a veg of some sort, and eggs for my shot of protein.

once i prepped a good portion of the water spinach to pick out some green onion when i noticed i also had some asparagus as well.


so i grabbed a few stalks and decided i would add it. this happens a lot while i am cooking....modifying as i go depending on what i have available in my kitchen.
making the stir fried water spinach as well as the scrambled eggs is a very fast process. it probably takes longer to explain the steps than it does to cook it. but basically, i heated up some extra virgin olive oil, added the whites of the green onion, some salt, then dried chilies, then the asparagus, and then the water spinach. once the water spinach begins to wilt in the pan, i shake a few shakes of nuoc mam into the water spinach. yup, that is it.







then for the eggs, it is basically the same thing where i heat up extra virgin olive oil, smashed then chopped whites of the green onion, the eggs, then a couple of shakes of the nuoc mam, then the green portions of the green onion, and then scramble.



again, all pretty simple no?


if i wanted to be all fancy and fluffy, i would have beaten the eggs in a separate bowl with the ingredients. this actually does make a substantial difference....but this morning for me was not about taking the extra steps....but rather obtaining some good and tasty nourishment as quickly as possible.

yet, as i made this meal quickly for myself....i did think about how this meal and my approach to it may have not been possible if i hadn't already been exposed to these sort of preparations and food as a child.


it is probably why i rarely think of things like cold cereal as "breakfast food"....even though that is extremely quick to put together.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

mornings at bob's

a friend of a friend once asked me how i find out about the places i visit and the foods that i eat in this blog. it is a culmination of a bunch of avenues....sometimes, if you're DB, you'll pepper me with a list of places that i should try throughout our hang out time. sometimes, i'll get emails, texts, calls, tweets, etc. from folks indicating that they just tried something or ate somewhere that they really liked. sometimes i'll just wander around and see where my intuition takes me. or sometimes, i'll just watch a crowd and see where a person or persons get really excited about visiting and then i'll follow/wander over to see what the source of the excitement is. yet, it was an unusual avenue that pointed me in the direction of bob's donuts on polk street. one of my favorite cartoonists, julia wertz, drew a panel of the shop in one of her paper volumes. since all of my books are still packed away, i can't tell you which one....but i remember thinking....i should try to find bob's donuts on polk.


so off i went this morning, in search for a donut. not the small italian bombs of epic deliciousness called bomboloni from the ferry building but rather traditional american donuts at a traditional non-fussy donut shop.




the lady was really nice. i must say that i'm pretty surprised by the niceness of shop folks on polk (considering the all kinds they have to deal with). so the wares i've tried from bob's donuts include a maple french cruller (which is prob my fave type of donut cause it is made with pate a choux dough), an apple paneria (sp?) and an apple fritter. there are no pics of the cruller because i ate it. it was delicious.

the apple bread thingy took a bit more figuring out.


it reminded me of a cinnamon bun topped with large chunks of apples and a sauce that reminded me of the kind of sauce you get inside an apple pie.

this is not light.

then after i dove into the fritter, i realized that the apple paneria (sp?) is an apple fritter dough that has been topped with apples mixed with thick apple pie like jelly and baked. yet, the frying of the dough created a much lighter fritter bread than the paneria. the apple fritter was very yummy....


it wasn't too heavy. the outside was crispy and caramelized while the inside was soft, light, and bread-like.


this is the best apple fritter that i've had to date.

the business part of my brain predicted that they could sell these things for about $5 a pop if they were at a more upscale location or outlet (which i suppose they would have to given overhead costs). then the cynical part of me is willing to bet that some sf boutique-y place has already figured that out and buys from bob's and then prob turns around and sells them for $5-6.

overall, i can see why an artist would draw a panel of this unassuming donut shop on polk. it is definitely worth a visit. i have a feeling that there will be many mornings at bob's in my future.


bob's donuts, 1621 polk street, (between sacramento & clay) san francisco, ca 94109, phone +1 415 776 3141

Monday, May 17, 2010

not the girl i used to be

sometimes, i get in the mood for a very big meal.

oftentimes, when i am in this sort of mood, the meal is usually so heavy that i know that it will be the only meal i will have that day. the rest of the day will be offset by sipping on beverages (usually with caffeine to combat the post-meal sleepiness factor) and nibbling on very small sweet or savory snacks.

i'm not certain what provoked this mood for a big meal this morning.

perhaps it was the rain. perhaps it was because i was not in the mood to hop on muni to get anywhere to grab a bowl of soup....which is my typical "go to" comfort dish. perhaps it was because i really didn't feel like walking anywhere. or, perhaps, i was looking for a different sort of comfort....the sort that seems really solid and stick-to-your-ribs sort of food. perhaps the sort of the food that is consistent in its homeyness. or perhaps, since i have been processing quite a bit about what it means to live in the city again, i thought i'd add another log to the processing fire.

cause why not?

in for a penny...in for a pound....i suppose.

i've studiously avoided having the typical big american breakfasts in the US for almost three years now. while i typically don't enjoy eating so much first thing in the morning and prefer to have the heavier meal mid day, i've also avoided american breakfasts for the past few years because it was one of B's favorite things to do and something we ate together practically every week for seven years. including the three years we lived together in the city.

B always ordered the same thing. eggs over easy with bacon, hash browns and toast. really, the same thing. every time. for years. he had some quirks about this because it couldn't be a place that did "brunch" per se, it had to be a greasy diner sort of place usually in the outer sunset or outer richmond, because HEAVEN FORBID that we would leave the confines of the foggy utterly depressing outer areas where you don't feel like you are actually living san francisco but some odd suburb that is a mix of a massive asian-asian (as we used to like to call them when i was in school....to differentiate between us asian-americans or hapa...because you know...there is a difference) immigrant population, russian immigrants, hippies, the overwhelming plethora white non-bay area native american guys that reek of locally grown herb or stale alcohol, and betty wannabes that that won't surf themselves but find their identity and values tied to which part-time surfer they are "dating" and how much they could drink.

this got really old for me.

loved ones really worried about me and my sanity being in the outer sunset.

but sometimes you do stuff like that when you are married.

you know, have crappy breakfasts every week and live in outer sunset.

it is called C.O.M.P.R.O.M.I.S.E.

but since the D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (well...technically before the divorce due to california's mandatory waiting period...which is totally suck-o-rama btw....anyway....i should say since our marriage ended), i've pretty much avoided big american breakfasts as much as possible.

oh, yeah, i know that i've had an abundance of big breakfasts in the UK. however, having large breakfasts in the UK are different....because...well, when one is having boiled mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, black pudding, baked beans, eggs, cumberland sausage, and fat back rounded bacon for breakfast....it doesn't feel like i am having an american breakfast. not even close.

yes, i realize this isn't exactly rational and a bit wacky. yet,
food is obviously loaded with emotional memory for me.

for better or worse.

ha!

so, despite all of this background, i found myself in front of miller's east coast deli on polk street this morning.

last night, DB had mentioned that this place was really good and DB knows his american comfort food. quite well. so there i was, determined to go inside, have an american breakfast and take another step towards making this city "my city", confronting some of those pesky food memories head on, and creating new memories.....just for me.

one thing i noticed right away was the service was pretty great and attentive. even though there were only 5 people working (including those on the line). everyone was hustling and the place was busy....i mean it was a rainy monday morning and there was a really fascinating mix of professionals in suits, older people, a few tourists, families, students....and of all ethnicities. really.
i was also seated in a place where i was able to see some of the staff show extreme amounts of polite patience toward some of the patrons despite the hustle and bustle going on around them.

so what did i order? i ordered the chicken fried steak with scrambled eggs, hash browns, and rye toast....with a coke. what did i tell you? i was in the mood for a big meal.

and you know what? it was really good. the steak was a pretty substantial piece of meat that was crispy yet tender. the hash browns had a nice representation of black pepper and nicely crispy. i think this was my fave taste on the plate. the eggs were pretty good and had that layered effect that comes with folding them on a large grill. it was all really good.

as i was chomping through the meal that was bigger than my head, i thought about how much things have changed.



and you know, all of this change hasn't resulted in being a bad thing. not at all. because, you see, i'm not the girl i used to be.

accepting comfort

it is a time like this that i realize how hard i can be on myself.

i've been feeling very worn down recently and i kept telling myself "pull your shit together. it is time to get going!"

then i realized over the weekend that i'm tired. i am physically tired from the packing, the move-related activities, cleaning, etc. which i have essentially done by myself (with the exception of the heart sister lending her much needed support the day of the move) and holding my full time job with crazy ass hours.

if someone else where to tell me this, i'd say, "yeah, of course you're tired. give yourself some time to rest." but since it is me, i'm like...."tired? what is that? power through it yo."

not to mention my arrogance at not really and truly considering the full spectrum of emotional implications of moving here. it is where i want to be and i know i made the right decision for me....but it is amazing how much shit comes up when i do things like walk around the 'loin looking for vietnamese condiments and i am literally facing where i spent my earliest years of life vs where i am now.

the 'loin vs pac heights.

while both are in the same city, they really are separate universes.

i understand why sometimes folks leave and they never visit where they came from...because it isn't an easy thing. not at all.

have i really told anyone about this while this was happening? of course not. i did my typical foodie hunter stoic hermit thing, powering through everything, thinking and feeling that the way to get through things is to keep moving...because if you keep moving then perhaps you carry the dredges of the past rather than let it paralyze you. i, of all people, have learned that you cannot run from the past. not really. but you can carry it with you to deal with later in safer moments and environments. this is one of those life lessons that i learned pretty early on and am currently understanding more about.

yet, another and separate life lesson that it is taking me a lot longer to learn that it is ok to let others comfort or take care of me.

just typing those words still make me cringe.

both externally and internally.

even though there is no one else to see it.

it is an involuntary reaction.

yet, it is true...and sometimes it doesn't have to be a big conversation about anything but it can be something as simple as being ok with loved ones, who love to fuss....just fuss, care for you, make you sunday dinner....


and drive you around in their fancy dancy car that can park itself. or sometimes it can be loved ones who quite stubbornly indicate that they are taking you out to OTD, buying you furniture, or indicating that they are helping you pay for your move....whether you like it or not.

while there is this very large extremely independent prideful part of me is screaming "i can do this by myself" (because, well, i can)....there is this smaller part of me that is whispering "they love you. it is ok to accept the comfort because .......you. don't. have. to do. everything. by. yourself."

this too is a marked difference from where i was versus where i am now.

because now, unlike that precocious stubborn driven punk ass kid, i am not alone.

sometimes i forget that.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

asian heritage street celebration

yesterday was a jammed pack day.

my first stop was the asian heritage street celebration that took place in the civic center area in front of the asian art museum, the sf public library, and through "little saigon" on larkin street.

i took some time to wander around and take in the scene....


which included folks of all ages and actually, of many ethnicities.



one of the folks that i was immediately on the lookout for was socola, the chocolatier who i have been tracking from afar since i saw them at the 2009 chocolate salon. i still remember their infectious passion that day and smile when i see their wares at places such my local whole foods or when friends buy me boxes of their goodies. the best friend recently bought me a box, but i also wanted to drop by their booth ....


and ended up buying the vietnamese coffee truffle (which i already knew that i liked).

still lovely and still yummy. no surprises there. i also noticed that they have the polished pitches down pat. good for them....and i look forward to seeing their continued success from afar.

then after a bit of scouting out the food booths, i decided to pay a visit to the burmese youth association booth to try some of there burmese sweets:



i find that the best way to figure out how food should really taste like is to visit these sort of booths....that often have home cooks making it....


to be honest, i have don't know what any of them were/are but since when has that stopped me from trying something? i think one of them was a cassava cake and the yellow one was a semolina sort of cake (which was my fave of the bunch).

as i walked around noshing on my sweets, i saw people eyeballing what i was eating and i would just smile. food makes me happy and i have been told that i appear remarkably more approachable when i am at these food-oriented events. surprising and not surprising i suppose.

then i stopped by one of the booths serving filipino food which is a genre of food i know very little about....




but doesn't these stuff look intriguing?

there is actually a vietnamese dish that is very similar to this....

but i don't know the name of it. i love seeing things like that.


i ended up getting the noodles and the adobo chicken. meat on the bone is something i have a tendency to gravitate toward. after noshing on that for a bit, i walked through the festival and saw the kara's cupcake van.

how convenient.


i dislike going to the marina and if i can get my fleur del sel cupcake fix without having to step my big toe in that neighborhood, then that makes me a very foodie hunter.

at this point, you'd think i'd be done right?

nope.

then i saw the bombay ice cream and chaat booth.


i've always wanted to stop by bombay ice cream in the mission and it is on my list of "to visit" places so i sucked it up and thought to myself "i must have a special separate dessert stomach" so i went to the bombay ice cream folks and ordered up myself some rose petal ice cream.


which was pretty delish...yet, i understand that not everyone is into rose petals in their ice cream....but for me, it was pretty great.

then imagine my dismay when i saw that koren bbq truck was there!


i love their korean tacos.

but alas, i was stuffed. my body completely rebelled at the thought of putting more food in it...no matter how yummy i knew it was going to be.

in fact i was stuffed for such a long time on saturday that i didn't even eat the yummy gob that i bought from gobba gobba hey yesterday at the ritual coffee thingy





until this afternoon. i'm glad i waited to eat it because i don't think i could have appropriately appreciated it yesterday. so i had it this afternoon with my tea as i prepped the pics from yesterday.

as i look back on the day yesterday, i must say...it was just a really great day.

life is good.