Saturday, August 21, 2010

such a good day.....

i'm going to break one of my blogging rules. which one you ask? the one that indicates that i should be completely sober before hitting the "publish post" button.

i've just had such a good day though.

things at work have been a bit rough. i am doing everything i can to protect my team and have found myself, over caffeinated from working on projects, and staring the ceiling until 3am thinking about potential angles and actions i should/would/could be taking to ensure that my team will remain effective and be protected through various changes. this has happened at the majority of companies i have worked at over the past decade....yet, each time, i immediately go into my "what do i need to do to prepare my team and make this work? zone." it is always tiring.

so i was really ready for a good day.

i started out my day getting ready to head out to the sf street food festival. i usually take antibacterial gel, napkins, disposable spoon and/or fork, and my favorite must-have travel food accessory .....a pair of portable chop sticks


i love these things. chopsticks are my primary utensil anyway, even when i am not eating "asian" foods. i bought these ages ago at flight 001 in hayes valley btw. i find that taking these things may make a WORLD of difference when eating at these festivals. once i was ready, i got on muni and headed to the mission.

i had purchased a couple of passports (one of those weekend ones and another just $$) online ahead of time. i deliberately purchased more than i knew i would eat because this is an event put on by La Cocina. La Cocina supports folks that don't have a lot of accessible funds to become food entrepreneurs.

i know that there was a total shit storm of press about last year's event. last year's event was so popular that it took the event folks by complete surprise. some of the press was constructive. some of the press was not constructive at all and embodied aspects that i hate about a certain segment of the food blogging world. one of the ways that the event folks tried to make amends was to invite folks that had pre-purchased passports to a special dinner...since some of those passport folks weren't able to spend what they purchased. i wasn't able to go but i remember reading the email, thinking, these folks are very sincere in their efforts better and i would definitely not be giving up on this event.

so i showed up at about 11am to pick up my passports and run around the event taking pictures....

and noshing on random things.....



and taking more pics of folks cooking....


i love taking pictures of people cooking. it is one of the reasons why i love events like this. it is a way to communicate with eaters and say "this is who cooks for you.....this is who is hustling in pretty tiny spaces....with heat and flames....with professional calmness amidst the crowds." also, as i have mentioned before on this blog, i liken watching people cook to watching dance....there is such a grace about it.

i must admit that i decided to make hapa ramen one of my last stops as they were amongst the 4-5 vendors that already had some pretty long lines just after 11am. so by the time i had taken a bunch of pics and nibbled on things....it was already well into the event....and the hapa ramen line was already snaking along the sidewalk. so, before i hopped into the hapa ramen line, i went and bought a popsicle at the bi-rite stand


so that i could eat it while i stood in line. i love bi-rite. i pretty much love everything i've ever had from them.


i shouldn't have been surprised that the line moved as quickly as it did. i was only halfway through my popsicle before i got to the front of the line. in my mind, there was no question that i was NOT going to be bugging the folks at hapa ramen given today's crowds that make the crowds at the thursday market at the ferry building looking like nothing. plus i'm used to sneaking around taking pictures of everybody and their food, so it is habit that is pretty ingrained and hard to break. so after i paid the gal (who i didn't recognize) that handled over my order, i found a nice step to sit down on to enjoy my ramen down the a ways from the hapa ramen stand.

yet somehow, hapa ramen must have, i don't know, like psychic radar or something. i look up and i see hapa ramen making gestures that he sees me. he points to his eyes and points to me. i wave to him, hapa ramen mama, and the gentleman who works the line with hapa ramen (apologies sir, although i've taken your picture quite a bit...i don't know what your name or moniker is). then hapa ramen mama makes motions asking if i like it and i give her the thumbs up....as i do like it. the noodles were flat once more. i was also digging the smaller portion size because i had already indulged in a lot of food at this point. as i went back to my slurping away, hapa ramen exits the stand to walk over (which did startle me a bit when i looked up from my slurping) and tells me to grab my shit. i don't argue. i've learned my lesson. so i was all about the "oui chef". then i enter their stand...not certain what to expect....and he points to a chair! and tells me to sit. so i sit. wasn't that nice? so i get to sit in a chair while i finish eating. everyone in this small space is hustling around the food including mrs.hapa ramen as well. as i'm eating and watching, i'm wondering if one day....hapa ramen baby will see how much his parents have put into this.

once i'm done, i see an opportunity to get some great action shots. i see an opening in space so i take it and very quickly take some shots....



they were so nice and totally in their zone....and still making conversation. i don't know how they do it. after i take the shots, i say thanks for the seat and head out....anxious to get in a few more shots before heading home to process the pics.

as i posted before, here is a link to the full set of pics on flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiehunter/sets/72157624651932193/

as i am big on transparency in my blog, i do have an agenda with this posting.

it is my hope that, dear reader, that by showing you these pictures and relaying these sort of stories and snippets of everyday life....that you will see the people behind the food. the majority of the time in my blog, i focus upon the food itself....yet, it doesn't mean that don't think about the people that put so much effort into growing and crafting our food. while i am an admitted antisocial shit, i do have a tremendous amount of respect for farmers, purveyors, cooks, and all sort of food industry folks that seek to make a difference....through food. it makes me, the curmudgeonly foodie hunter, feel even more connected to what i eat and the food that i love. perhaps it will for you, dear reader, as well.

sf street food festival 2010 pics on flickr

heya everybody,

just wanted to let you know that i've posted a group of pics of today's sf street food festival here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodiehunter/sets/72157624651932193/

i'll probably write about it later.....but just wanted to provide the link to the pics!

xxxooo,

foodie hunter

Thursday, August 19, 2010

oui chef

it is lovely in the city right now. i was almost humming to myself on muni toward the ferry building as the the beautiful weather coupled with my meetings being moved meant that i could make a stop into the thurs farmers market for an early lunch. unsurprisingly, i hit up hapa ramen before the crowds began.


it felt like it had been ages since i had their ramen as the last couple of times i was able to stop by i had their sandwich or noodle salad offerings. this time, hapa ramen identified me after i put in my order for the big daddy bowl (chicken, pork, veggies, and the sous-vide egg) but before i could pay mrs. hapa ramen. i was being treated to the bowl.

instead of accepting graciously, me-and-my-no-filter-ness immediately protested with "that is not fair" because i (well until today) would primarily write or take pictures of something if i paid for it, cooked it, or was cooking it with friends. if you read me regularly, you know that i've liked hapa ramen since the beginning and have been reading linecook/hapa ramen for a long time....well before we "met" in person. most people would be gracious and just say "thanks!" instead, i just had to be the moron and argue with the chef.

i also didn't want it to seem that i'm on the lookout for free food and take advantage of a group of people that make great food. i have heard and read about cases of this happening to other food folks and of extortion like plots (i.e., like the dumb assholes that stopped into one of my favorite places in the universe and demanded discounts/freebies or else something bad would be written about them...if i was there, i probably would have threw something at said assholes or at the very least had some very strong words for them...as a fellow customer it is much easier to say what you think as opposed to the vendor).

yet, this situation i was in with hapa ramen is rather unique because none of the other places i visit regularly do not know (well at least i don't think they know) that it i am foodie hunter. keeping my anonymity was definitely not on my mind when i was protesting this morning, to the absolute amusement of those watching.

yes, i did see those smiles at my stubborness moroness or the interaction this morning.

oh yes i did.

did this prevent me being stubborn? oh no it did not.

i mean, who really protests to being treated to food? well, i guess you do when you are the foodie hunter. then, i think hapa ramen mama played the diplomat and pointed to the hapa ramen baby jar as a compromise....

problem solved.

then later on, hapa ramen came over with the bowl and mentioned how the noodles were different today.....they were flat noodles that have more egg yolk in them. so i took my bowl....

and found a seat....

and proceeded to slurp away.....


what i liked about the flat noodles was the mix of the sous vide egg and broth really clung to the noodles....and as a result, the flavor really incorporated itself into the noodles.

i doubt that this is the last word or taste on their ramen. i enjoy how hapa ramen is constantly looking at how to make changes.... here and there....always wanting to improve...and make it their own. not being tied to a particular "traditional" style but rather creating food that is a reflection of who they are. it is one of the reasons why i love living and eating in the bay area. there is room for so many types of foods and we have the audience to try it.


as i finished up the yumminess and slurped up the every last bit of broth, i realized that i should have not argued with the chef.

i mean, he is the chef.

so a bit belatedly, i'm saying here..... "oui chef" and thank you.


hapa ramen, http://haparamensf.com/ , thursdays farmers market 10-2pm, ferry plaza farmers market, one ferry building, san francisco, ca 94114, http://www.cuesa.org/markets/days/thursday.php ; off the grid street food event on fridays at 5pm; and also look for them at the sf street food festival this saturday, from 11-6pm, on folsom street between 24th + 26th street.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

predictable


i am quite predictable at times.

when i am stressed, i cook to comfort. when i am happy, i cook to extend the pleasure. when i am exceedingly pissed off, i cook to work out the anger. how and what i cook is an extension of who i am and what i am feeling at that moment.

a couple of "oh fuck" bombs have dropped recently. as a result, most of my processing has been done in the kitchen or in my private and very not online journals. it is an ongoing challenge i have....to remain true to one of the original concepts behind this blog....to remain open....yet, also ensuring that i protect those that i care about and well...my livelihood.

earlier this week i was extremely pissed off. the kind of pissed off that i knew i had to step away from the computer, phones, blackberries, etc. etc. in order to ensure that i would continue to have a job in a generally crappy economy. when i am this angry, i started going through my pantry and fridge to see what i had on hand....just letting my mood and instinct pick out the ingredients which included dried roasted chili peppers, nduja, a can of diced red tomatoes (notice at trend here? red, red, and more red) .....and thought about what i could make with these three things. then i decided to make a pasta from it.....i chopped up some onion, basil, and did my prep.


i heated up some extra virgin olive oil, the nduja, and onions in a pan.....




i should have waited a bit longer before i put in the tomatoes, but i was a wee bit distracted when the fire alarm went off in my place. dontcha love it when that happens? after opening up he windows and fanning the fire alarm, i went back to the pan...losing my place a bit....and adding the tomatoes....chili flakes and dried (which i do at home) sage.....but that was ok. i didn't realize that i didn't like the onions that firm once the sauce reduced down a bit...and did a taste....as a result, i just added some more water and let it simmer for a while longer until i liked the consistency of the onion more.

i am all about tasting as i cook....as each time is different....which is directly related to what i am feeling at that moment....perhaps i need a bit more salt, more pepper, more spice.....it all depends on what is going through my mind and who i am cooking for.

while the sauce was simmering, i decided to try out this spelt angel hair pasta that i bought. i'm constantly experimenting with different sorts of dried pastas due to some gluten and other food restrictions that members of the family are under.


then once the pasta was done, i added it to the twice reduced sauce......and some fresh basil....



plated it (and tasting along the way btw).....it was nice, peppery, smoky (from the nduja), spicy....



yet by this point, i wasn't as angry and decided that a nice mellow ricotta salata to mellow it out a bit would be just the thing.


it was pretty tasty and was just wanted i needed that day. i also ended up it for a late dinner as well.

so there you have it..... an example of how predictable the foodie hunter can be....yet, i doubt i will be changing anytime soon. i have a feeling that if i am fortunate to live to a ripe old age and be a part of my loved ones lives....i'll still be cooking food from them and myself....in such a way that reflects what i am feeling in that moment.

perhaps predictability isn't as bad as it sounds.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

hit the road


this evening i decided to make a journey to the heart of darkness....and trek to fisherman's wharf to grab a burger at in-and-out. the only one in san francisco. despite being the only one in san francisco, i hadn't been to that location before this evening. i remember years ago when i used to work by levi's strauss plaza, there would be groups of people that would make the walk down the embarcadero, swifty enter into fisherman's wharf, get it togo, and eat their burger wares along the water away from the wharf....but i never went. i never wanted it enough to go to the land of polartec fleece, kitchy seafood joints, the smell of stale beer and piss, as well as the meandering tourists upon tourists and more tourists. did i mention the tourists?

also, it was because B and i were still together during that time and when either one of us had a hankering, we'd hit up the one in daly city.

i had completely forgotten that there was an in-and-out in the city until a food friend and fellow bay area raised brat reminded me while we were riding the 47 how in-and-out was only a couple of blocks from a 47 stop. my snotty and snobby response was along the lines of avoiding "the wharf" whenever possible. his practical and dry response was how it was worth walking a couple of blocks in the wharf for one of their burgers...especially since the stop was so close.

so this evening i decided to hop on the 47 and venture forth into tourist land. i got off at the jones + north point stop and walked the couple of blocks into the bustling joint that, of course, had to be next door to a hooter's for gad's sake. i went during a relatively "off" hour, so in-and-out was busy but not crazy ass busy. unsurprisingly, there was no seating available inside.


once i picked up my order, i decided to grab a seat outside which had mixed results...it was a wee bit windy and i think there were folks that may have imbibed too much from the hooter's and decided to use certain areas as a latrine. i was definitely wishing i was eating it inside a car at that moment and that wish set off a whole chain of memories.

figures.

these days, i don't fight these sort of memories anymore.

i just let them come, visit, say their peace, and then feel them leave. there were many an evening where B. and i would be chowing down on burgers in various vehicles early on in our relationship when we didn't have a lot of money coming in.....when eating in-and-out was a treat....where we would eat, talk, half listening to npr in the background, before heading out to go see a movie.

in a way i wasn't surprised that these memories arrived.

on friday, i my deliciously wicked godfather treated me to a dinner at anchor and hope....and while we were playing catch up, i let him know with a rather toothy grin of delight that B no longer lives in san francisco.


LKB mentioned to me that through linkedin, she had found out that B moved to charlotte, north carolina. in many ways, it was a relief to know that he no longer lives in the city. perhaps subconsciously, this is why i found myself going to fisherman's wharf to visit in-and-out. it is rather unusual for me to have a hankering to go here.....if i want to have a burger, there are many other places to grab a great burger in the city....places that are decidedly not in fisherman's wharf.

during that dinner last friday, my deliciously wicked godfather mentioned again how my life has changed so much now that B. and i are no longer together....how much happier i seem. this is true. it has been about three years now since the marriage ended. alas, just when i think there could be nothing left to process, along comes something like eating a burger to bring up something else. i don't have regrets anymore about the years i spent with B. these days, i can recall how much i loved him and how much he loved me without any pain or wistfulness.

i do feel more than slightly vindicated with his move though. i wish i could say that i'm this angelic person filled with uber zen-like forgiveness-yadda-yadda-yadda.... but i'm not that person. instead, i'm the person that is saying "ha ha ha can't blame me for keeping you in the bay area anymore.....time to suck it up and be responsible for your own damn self". yup, decidedly not zen budda like. it was solely his decision to stay in the city for years after we ended....also, can't blame me for keeping him away from living in some po-dunk beach town.....as look where he ended up.....a place that is 3 hours away from water.

there is poetic justice in this move of his. quite.

maybe he'll figure his shit out someday. yet, i no longer feel guilty that i'm glad that i won't be there to see it if he does.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

randomly tasty


this weekend didn't turn out according to plan.

originally, i had planned on going up to see the family on friday night and saturday. yet, i had been fighting off a cold-whatever-it-is and it really hit me hard on thursday. really hard. i didn't want to infect the family with whatever it was that i had so i decided to not leave the city after all. i also didn't have any strong inclinations to leave my apartment for extended amounts of time. i did pop out a few times over the past few days...but it was always during non-prime time to grab ice cream at humphry slocombe to process a couple of things, sit in a cafe to do some work, or to briefly meet up with VG who was visiting from nyc (because that would be a total douche bag maneuver wouldn't it? to say...yeah, you are in town but i'm not going to see you? not.) i tried to take it easy as i will definitely need my energy for the next few weeks given what is going down at work.

i started to feel a bit better today and decided to stop off at the heart of the city farmers' market at civic center to buy some produce. this is one of the farmers markets i hit up pretty regularly. i noticed that there were lots of tomatoes, peppers, okra, and eggplant, and beans at the market.




often times when i am at the market, i'll buy whatever strikes me. i usually don't have any agenda or anything specific in mind that "i must get". i love going to farmers markets and especially love the diversity of the markets in the city. the heart of the city farmers market is extremely different from the ferry building....but i enjoy both for different reasons. yet no matter what market i go to, one of my favorite things to do is to unload the bounty i bought at the market.....




and think about potential combinations and such over the next few days. doesn't that look lovely?


in this case, i decided to make myself a pasta made with some of the produce i picked up today as well as a chunk of njuda (from boccalone in the sf ferry building....i already had this in my fridge).




after, i set a pot of water to boil for the pasta. i prepped the black cherry tomatoes i picked up at the market. after tasting a couple of the pieces, i decided that the tomatoes needed a bit of help to bring out some of their flavors....so i decided to roast them a bit.

since the oven was going to be on, i decided to roast some red onion as well. i was doing all of this "on the go".....pretty much deciding what would go into the dish as i was cooking.

once the tomatoes and onion were done......



and the water reached a boil, i added the pasta, and got ready to prepare my "sauce". i put some extra virgin olive oil into a hot pan and then added the chunk (without the casing) of the njuda into the hot oil.


i had a feeling it would disintegrate (similar to how preserved anchovies disintegrate). i thought this would be a good salty savory base. then i also added some heirloom tomatoes i had in the fridge as well as some basil.



i figured two different kinds of tomatoes cooked differently wouldn't be a bad thing. then i added the roasted onion.


once the pasta was done, i added the pasta to the mixture and then added the roasted black cherry tomatoes, more basil, and salt. this turned out to be quite randomly tasty.


this happens quite a bit in the foodie hunter kitchen....making random pastas, soups, and tartines (open faced sandwiches) are consistent standbys for me.


i also just had the leftover pasta topped with a fried duck egg and shaved parmesan for a late dinner. that worked out pretty well too. what's on the food agenda for tomorrow? i'm not sure....i won't be lacking for options....that is for certain. i also don't mind looking at a group of seemingly random components and figuring out how to make it work for me.....you know....sort of making sense and order out of random chaos.

kind of like how i approach my life in general.