Tuesday, September 28, 2010

simple and easy with backyard produce

it was another very warm day in san francisco. as a result, i knew that i wouldn't want to be spending a lot of time around the stove as the day grew warmer. yet, i knew that i wanted to use the produce that the best friend had given me last night from her garden.

i'm trying to eat as much produce as possible before my trip to the uk. while i usually am able to eat a fair amount of produce in london....i really don't find that to be the case around the bits of northern england that i visit often for work. a prime example that not all regions have the same amount of easy access to fruits and vegetables (not to mention "local"). last night at the hapa ramen pop up, the best friend had given both AB and i some tomatoes and figs from her garden. because i wanted to use as many tomatoes as possible, i decided to make a heavy on the tomato pasta....with two different types of tomatoes......i'd roast some of the tomatoes and then use the cherry tomatoes just warmed up (but not cooked) with the pasta.

because it involved roasting, i washed them and put them in the oven in between my morning meetings. my intention was to have them ready well before the heat hit.



while they were in the oven, i quickly cut up some of the figs she had given me as well....and had the figs with some yogurt and honey.....


which was an excellent way to start the day. once i could smell the tomatoes were done, i took them out and then put them aside for later in the afternoon.


then, in the early afternoon, i boiled some whole wheat linguine and then took a quick look though my cupboard and fridge for what else i could put in my two-types-of-tomatoes pasta. i had some garlic poached in oil (a common standard that i make...along with other standards like a pot of cooked grains and braised greens), so i decided to the poached garlic along with some preserved anchovies and dried chilies (in this case they were paper lantern chilies from tierra vegetables) to use as my sauce base.

this was super easy as after i warmed up the oil, the garlic, the anchovies (which i would have smashed before putting them into the pan if i was making this for a guest btw...but when it just me...i'm ok with skipping that step), then adding the pasta.......giving it a couple of swirls and tosses....then adding the roasted tomatoes.....


and using tongs......moving/stirring the pasta until the strands are slightly coated red from the roasted tomatoes...then the final step is adding the halved cherry tomatoes....

when the cherry tomatoes are just warmed up...then it is ready.

i love it when things like this come together.....simple but very tasty. i must admit that knowing that the tomatoes and figs came from a loved one's backyard was an added bonus.

Monday, September 27, 2010

last night at hapa ramen pop up at bar tartine


well. i'm wired and punchy. these seem to be words that best describe me these days. i'm currently running on about 4 hours of sleep but i feel real good. i had an absolutely lovely time tonight at the hapa ramen pop up at bar tartine. the chance to connect with friends over and around food that makes me realize just how lucky i am.

before dinner, i dropped by the hapa ramen pop-up to drop off a "surprise" for some of the folks. i ordered them a couple of weeks ago but i had always planned on giving this surprise to them at their pop up.



it is a bit of an inside joke.

it all started at the sf street food festival when i could tell that hapa ramen mama really really really (i mean really) liked my portable travel stainless steel and wood chopsticks. then, by some odd workings of the universe, when hapa ramen mama and hapa ramen would talk about the chopsticks, i would appear. i figured that the universe was telling me that the really needed to have these chopsticks....and they were meant to have them....so hence, i thought it would be good to give them to them at the end of their pop up...... something to mark the moment as they move forward.

then i returned later to bar tartine to meet up with the best friend while we waited for AB to join us. while we waited, the best friend received a text message from AB....as she just wanted to confirm that it was ok to bring a friend. of course! any friend of AB is always welcome at the table. it was one of those random moments where i am reminded of how food brings so many people together.

after AB arrived with Mr. J from Chicago.... we tried pretty much almost everything on the menu.....a lovely salad with adorable pickled radishes, two orders of ramen (with the sous vide egg of course), the seared duck breast, the fried chicken (which i must admit was my personal fav...the skin!!! oh the skin...i could have eaten a couple of orders of that just to myself), and the thin slices of crispy pork belly paired with the watermelon and rice noodles. alas, there are no pics....the lighting was quite dark and i wasn't about to disturb the other patrons with a "flash" from my camera. yet, it was all very lovely. i also liked how everyone was all good about sharing things family style. i also realized as we were devouring our food and practically licked our plates.....just how much food from the hapa ramen folks i have eaten over the past few months. this realization came to me when i would hear the comments of appreciation about the ramen broth as well as some of the other dishes. i suppose, i've just come to expect great food from the folks at hapa ramen...and maybe.... i take it a bit for granted that they put so much into it....so that i know it will be great. i know that the meal, the company, and the laughter tonight will be something that i carry with me as i head to the uk for work this weekend.

the biggest surprise of the evening of though was when the check came and Mr. J from chicago decided that he was going to pick up the check. i think there were three looks of puzzlement directed at him. three of us gals at the table are pretty independent sort of gals. yet, while we sat there in puzzlement....our brain processing power was likely more slow than usual due to the heat and the infusion of alcohol.....he decided that he was just going to get up and handle it. um ok. it was a very lovely gesture though...especially that he included covering myself and the best friend....which is definitely something that he didn't need to do....but it was very nice of him to do so.

well, it is almost midnight and i really need to get some sleep....but i'll be going to bed happy and with a warm full belly.

new toy



at the moment i'm testing out my new toy. some gals go gaga over diamonds and the bling. i go gaga over veggies, a good cup of coffee, and technology. i actually bought an ipad yo....and am currently writing this post from ritual on valencia before i meet up with loved ones. i'm working on learning what it means to have officially gone over to the "mac" side. the ipod doesn't count....that is such a cross over device. so after my slew of meetings this morning, i hopped on muni to downtown and begin my journey toward macdom.

naturally, before i hit up the apple store on stockton, i decided to pay a quick visit to the sf ferry building to try out cowgirl creamery's newest offering, sidekick. the folks there were super nice as i stood there a bit confused looking for their menu posted (it isn't posted on a wall yet) and one of them handed me the menu to look at. i noticed after perusing the menu that i should definitely get my rear here for the breakfast as the challah rolls filled with goodies such as mt tam cheese and ham....or sliced mozzerella and hard cooked egg with green onion mayo are definitely going on my "must try list". i had difficulty deciding what to get as i didn't want to eat too much as i knew that i would be visiting hapa ramen at their pop up at bar tar tine....so i didn't want to fill up too much. so despite the warm weather today, i decided upon the grana padano panade with green beens, toast, and cowgirl cottage cheese dumplings......i'm such a sucker for dumplings.....









and the earl grey panna cotta (please....no rolled eyeballs about my choice of panna cotta)....



they were the perfect size snacks....and i look forward to trying some of their other options as well.

hmmm...i better get going so that i'm not late for our reservations.

until later.....

xxxooo


cowgirl creamery sidekick, 1 ferry building, san francisco, 94111, +1 415 392 4000

meddling

hey you.

it is sometime after 2am as i write this..... i've just finished off some things for work, sent them off, and am attempting to wind down for the "evening." while today was a getting-work-stuff-done sort of sunday, i took a break to take a walk and grab some vietnamese food in the 'loin. i tried walking a different route this time and it rather fascinating to see the differences on foot. you know you have arrived into the 'loin. the streets within a couple of blocks become remarkably more dirty, the stale piss smell becomes more prominent (especially in today's hot-for-san-francisco-weather), you notice that the number of crazy crackheads have also markedly increased, you'll notice the playground is literally right across the street from a porn theatre, you also notice that the assessing looks you receive from other members on the street ......evaluating whether or not you are a tourist...or whether you are aware you are being assessed for the potential value on your person. i've learned not to scurry or fold into myself when i walk around the 'loin. almost subconsciously, i can feel my chin jutting outwards as i feel a calm awareness settle over me and while i maneuver accordingly to avoid the more tenuous situations. i have a rather complicated relationship with this 'hood. it is unlikely to be resolved in any nice little box or package anytime soon.

yet, still i return.

i settled into one of the restaurants near this market i like to visit and order the goi cuon, bun bo hue, and a lemonade. the goi cuon and lemonade arrive very quickly and both are fresh...


as i'm looking out on the street, nibbling on the goi cuon, i recall the news i received on friday, and one of the things i did afterward....that i didn't write about.

see, i have this thing......this non-interference thing....this i-don't-actively-meddle-in-people's-lives-thing.

see....since i was a little kid....i discovered that my brain is well mapped for seeing potential outcomes of multiple situations very quickly. a strength of mine is being able to look at a situation and with a mix of objectiveness and intuition and predict many possible outcomes. i can quickly identify the possible avenues of where people can go...as people....what their strengths/weaknesses are....what their potential is....what they need in order to reach different potential....and how to communicate it in such a way that they "hear" it. i can also do this with companies, markets, etc. etc. and this is one of the reasons why i have the job i have now. it is why i have found myself dragged (kicking and screaming) into managing people and teams. just because you know how to do something well doesn't mean you want to do it....like to do it.....or should do it.

i'm certain that those who read me regularly will already know about this....as it is one the reasons why i am always thinking about how to support my very independent loved ones. i don't seek to interfere with or influence their decisions. once they make their own decisions, no matter what it is, i will support them in what they want to do. even when i don't agree...because...it isn't about me and what i want....it is about them and what they want. i don't say anything even when i see potential for challenges for the paths they have chosen.....for we all need to experience the challenges........we all need to fall down....if not to understand and truly know that we can get back up. i will only state what i think or what i see the potential outcomes are...if they ask very directly....if they don't ask, then i don't volunteer.

there are a few of my loved ones that thoroughly unequivocally disagree with this "thing" of mine and are not afraid to voice this opinion quite loudly and quite often. some feel that i "have a responsibility" (their words...not mine) to make a difference. others feel that "not everyone is as introspective and reflective about their own potential so you would actually be helping them if you actually interfered". the kicker comment i've gotten is "some people think you don't care if you don't interfere". when i heard that comment for the first time, i felt like i had been smacked....as it isn't because i don't care....actually, it is because i do....because i love them for who they "are"....not for who i think they "could" or "should" be. they decide who they are and who they will be....with no interference from me.

hence, my "no meddling" thing.

but on friday, after i got the news about someone's love with the tumor, i broke the "no meddling" rule thing.

i was thinking about it quite a bit as i made my way through the bun bo hue today.....


i totally meddled with a loved one. i prefaced it with admitting that i was breaking my "no interference" thing and knew i was being meddlesome, but that i really believe they should take a certain action....like right now and why i thought they should take that action. i'm not going to tell you, dear reader, exactly what i said because i want to protect this loved one's privacy. the point i am trying to make is that i, unprompted and unasked, stated what i think this person should do knowing full well that it was a sensitive subject and the likelihood of them wanting to tell me to fuck off was quite high.

this loved one is just as prideful, independent, and rebellious as i am ...particularly when someone tries to tell us what to do. they are also, ironically enough, one of the loved ones that think i should be meddlesome. yet, i have a feeling that they meant for other people and that i not actually include them

be careful what you wish for, huh?

to their credit, they didn't immediately tell me to fuck off, but i could almost hear their sigh....and indicated...yeah, that they need to do that.

this isn't a closed topic of course. they know that i will be nagging them about this. that is another thing, since when do i nag? i guess now i do.

i don't think that i'm going to make this a habit....and despite the conflict about it....it feels like the right thing to do.

i suppose we'll see if it was.

well, i think it is time for bed.

thanks for listening....

xxxooo

Saturday, September 25, 2010

delicious brunch-o-rama at nopa


the reason why CK and i decided go to nopa for brunch today was not because nopa is one of the hottest restaurants in the city. yeah, that is nice and all but that is not why we went. the reason why CK and i decided to go to nopa for brunch was because amy brown is doing brunch.

see the difference?

big difference.


lets get this out of the way shall we? i am friends with amy brown. i have been fortunate to have (and had) the opportunity to share meals, laughter, and thought provoking conversations with amy. i have also had the rather wonderful chance to eat her food ....not in a professional setting....but rather in a setting that is filled with warmth, laughter, and community.

the words that come to mind when i think of amy are smart (ahem, really smart), articulate, passionate, thoughtful, witty, and gut-bustingly silly funny in an incredibly fearless way. there aren't a lot of people that i would seat next to my deliciously wicked godfather during my birthday at slanted door a couple of years ago...but i knew that if anyone had the strength of character to handle my godfather, i knew amy could. she can give as good as she gets. oh yeah, she also makes great food.

i know i am very fortunate to know some amazing people. hence i am not surprised when i hear about them making strides in their careers and doing great things. my reaction is often "of course!" with an ear-to-ear grin as i am happy to know that they are receiving the much deserved validation for what they do. as a result, this was my reaction when i heard that amy was doing brunch at nopa. my attitude is not making light of their accomplishments. i am fully aware of what it means to extend a new offering from an established place like nopa. no pressure or anything. ummm, hello spotlight! yet, she is who she is...and now....more people will have a chance to know who she is through her food.

so what did i think of brunch at nopa? in a word.... delicious. everything was delicious.

if you don't believe me, you should try it for yourself.

i'd be rather surprised if you weren't tempted to visit nopa for weekend brunch after you see the pics.

CK and i split everything including the smoked trout, farmers cheese, and house made bagel......




this succulent tender pork with braised greens, fresh cranberry beans, and skillet bread.....



the spicy grilled chorizo with poached eggs, romesco potatoes, and mizuna

and the pear and almond galette....


are you hungry? i'd be surprised if these pics didn't elicit some twinges....as i'm feeling them now, despite eating so much just a few hours ago.


nopa, 560 divisadero at hayes, san francisco, ca, +1 415 864 8643, http://www.nopasf.com/

getting ready for another adventure with CK

i woke up this morning with a wistful smile and sigh.

not only is the weather just absolutely beautiful outside, but today is the day that CK and i have reservations for brunch at nopa. i have been looking forward to this for a while. from my perspective, one must always have plans to see loved ones and eat good food. life can throw us some unforeseen challenges at times so why not try to balance it out by planning for some good stuff? ...or in today's case....some great stuff.

i'm very excited about hanging out with CK and us having another culinary adventure. the last time we were able to hang out for a while she was very patient with me when i couldn't figure out where the heck minamoto kitchoan was on market street. at the time, i didn't remember the name of the place or exactly where it was, but CK was game. we eventually found it (648 market street) and it is like walking into a jewelry store. although the overall design aesthetic was completely different, the way they presented the treats reminded me of pierre hermes (at st. suplice) in paris.

after making a couple of purchases, we went to sfmoma to look at some art and then took (or perhaps snuck) our treats to the blue bottle cafe on the rooftop of the sf moma. we enjoyed the treats with some the blue bottle iced coffee and a latte on the lovely rooftop.



this is really becoming one of my favorite hide outs. btw...i know that we snuck in the treats in but my odd sense of moral principles makes me want to point out that we cleaned up after ourselves and didn't throw away any of the packaging from minamoto kitchoan there. as that would have been kind of odd....to bring in the treats and expect the bluebottle/moma folks to clean up after us. i absolutely wouldn't sneak in food into any restaurant, but for some reason it felt ok to do so on the rooftop....perhaps because the rooftop is more an open community space where folks hang out, even if they don't buy anything from blue bottle. actually, now that i think about it...the majority of people that seem to hang out there haven't bought anything from blue bottle. kay, i'm off my soapbox about that one. regardless, it was a lovely time....lovely to look at some art, hang out with CK, sip on some excellent coffee, relax on the roof, and nibble on some new treats.

well, i must go....i have to get ready for the brunch-o-rama and figure out what muni i should take to get there.

until later dear hearts....

xxxooo

Friday, September 24, 2010

having perspective

let's be real shall we?

i think folks that follow me on twitter and flickr have realized that i've been paying quite a few visits to humphry slocombe and OTD on bush street a lot recently. while these places are two of my regular haunts, i've been scurrying over a lot more the past few weeks because things really are unpleasant at work. these are two places i go for comfort though food and today was no exception as i found myself diving face first into my plate of banh cuon...


which is one of my fav vietnamese dishes. yet, today wasn't because of work unpleasantness. it was more of a reality check. as DH put it today, "it kind of puts everything in perspective doesn't it?"

i was thinking and feeling an awful lot about perspective while i was working my way through my comfort food ....recalling a conversation i had earlier today. before i tell you what it is dear hearts, i just want to be clear that this isn't me. this isn't anyone that knows the existence of who i am behind this foodie hunter mask of anonymity either. so there is no need to play the panicked-name-that-person-we-all-know-game. yet, it is someone i know and i was hit with a rather large wave of empathy and memory today.

what would you do, dear reader, if your love....went to the doctor because a tinge in their body....and came back saying that the doctor found a tumor? a tumor so large that even if it is benign that radiation is recommended to shrink it so that it would be easier to remove. oh, and the doctor should be able to tell your love next week if it is benign. or not.

yes. dear reader. what would you do? what would you say? what would you be feeling at this moment?

while i may be a bit of a robotic overly analytical emotionally retarded asshole, i actually have a pretty strong sense of empathy. isn't that weird? weird yes. but true. just one of life's unexpected fallacies. as a result, through empathy, i am able to tell you what i would do, say, and feel.

i'd immediately look at my love and see where they are at that moment. i'd squash my fear, anger, and despair. i'd suck it all up, bottle it up, and say "i love you and i'm here." then wait, desperately trying to see and provide what they need at that moment and the moments afterward.

do they need me to listen? do they need me to rant with them? do they need to keep the stiff upper lip? do we need to exhaust ourselves with researching this ourselves? do they need to keep the illusion that they are in control? do they need me to make a fool of myself so that they can laugh? do they need to rage at me or try to push me away (unsuccessfully), because they are scared? do they need me to be a fountain of hope and become a "glass is half full kind of person"?

anything + everything.

then, if there was a private moment, like when i'm taking a shower, i'd probably sit down....with my head on my knees... with extremely hot water running over me ....and i'd reconsider the fact that i broke up with god when i was ten years old and wonder if, perhaps, we should be on speaking terms again....



now, if the situation was reversed and i was the one telling someone i loved that the doctor had found something that i didn't know what the fuck it was, i'd probably try to make it seem like it wasn't a big deal. because i'm am an emotionally retarded prideful dumb ass like that. how do i know? because, i have already done it.

many years ago, i had a bit of a scare which included a visit to my GP, which immediately turned into the doc sending me to the ER as a stop gap, then a later surgery that required taking out a cyst that turned out to be benign, and then some post-surgery complications. i didn't really tell folks until after the surgery was over that it happened. also, if my deliciously wicked godfather hadn't alternated between scolding and nagging at me after the surgery because he just "knew" something was still wrong, i wouldn't be here right now. i was very sober when the equally scolding paternal doctor told me that if i waited any longer to see him, i'd have died. actually, now that i think about it, i don't think all of you dear hearts actually knew about that one. about the surgery yes...but not about the infection that happened afterward. ummm, yeah. that happened.

anyway.

the person i was "with" really couldn't handle it. i found it quite ironic that he was looking for me to comfort him when i told him about it. i mean, really, who is the girl here? i mean, i don't want to seem like a total dick or anything, but aren't you suppose to be trying to comfort me in this situation? yes, i really did think that when i saw him doing his immediate freak out thing. you really get to see me "warts and all" in this blog. this resulted in me acting like it wasn't a big deal because at that moment i really didn't need to comfort him freaking out about the possibility that i may have the C-word. i really had more than enough to deal with at that moment so it was easier to act like it wasn't a big deal. it may have been different if he hadn't reacted that way immediately and tried to put me first for a few moments, then freak out later, and then i could have comforted him. but that is not what happened. hindsight is so crystal clear isn't it?

the heart sister didn't buy my "it isn't a big deal" thing. she pretty much declared that she was going with me to my doctor appointments and had a few pointed questions for the doctor herself. honestly, behind my "it isn't a big deal" facade, i was scared but stubbornly refused to initiate any contact with god or any other potential spiritual entity. i guess they didn't hold it against me because i lucked out with my surgeon. the surgeon i was suppose to meet with was late....real late...i ended up meeting a dr. stanton who was the original surgeon's dad i was suppose to see...and who only "dabbled" with patients in semi-retirement. dr. stanton was rather amazing. not only was the healing (not including the infection) was relatively painless when compared to the stop gap cutting i received in the ER, but he must have come from a different era or school of thought, where doctors saw themselves as healers....filled with warmth, understanding, and empathy.

i think despite all of my stubbornness during that time, i did feel loved by the deliciously wicked godfather, the heart sister, and the best friend who seemed determined to provide food delivery and such post-surgery.



yup, this is the sort of processing that goes through my head when i'm sitting at the counter at OTD and humphry slocombe, having private moments of reflection behind my bug eyed sun glasses. this is probably why i try to go to both places during off times....when there is no line at humprhy slocombe or when the folks at OTD are prepping for the next rush...folding their towels....resetting the tabletops....etc.. today, as i finished my meal at OTD today, i looked through twitter on my blackberry and saw that a couple of people retweeted something i wrote right after i listened to the person that told me what was going on in their life right now. i suppose i'm not the only one that feels this way.

what did i tweet?

"having perspective. the most important thing is that those you love know, without a doubt, that you love them."

because no matter what side of the story you are on, no matter what is happening in life, that is really what it is about isn't it?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

got linked!

it has been an interesting and busy week thus far. i was thinking about a few of the things that have happened while i was taking a break away from work today to make myself a snack of shishito peppers.

i decided to do something different this time. i decided to do a complete dry pan roast of the peppers to see if i could maintain a firmness to the pepper while still roasting them.



in an ideal world, i would have just roasted them over the flame, but these tender peppers are only about a couple of inches long and that would take a long time to individually roast them over the flames of my gas stove. i also wanted to see what would happen if i didn't use any oil....like i usually do. this happens quite a bit in my kitchen. my trying things out just to "see" what happens.

i did set off the fire alarm a few times. but alas, these were pretty tasty as a snack. as i sat down with my first round snack.....


i took a moment to recall one of the things that happened earlier this week. on monday morning at about 9:52am, my personal blackberry beeped with a google alert that indicated that inside scoop sf linked to my post of working at off the grid with the hapa ramen folks.

here is where the link appears

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/paololucchesi/2010/09/20/eye-openers-cass-calder-tour-martins-west-rave-more-lincoln-buzz-in-nyc/

look for the "from the local scene" section for the link to my post.

inside scoop sf is a social media-friendly food content portal from the food folks at the sf chronicle (my definition....not theirs). i must admit that my instant reaction was "oh shit!" and then went to the posting to see if i had missed any typos. have i mentioned in the last few days (or maybe hours) that i'm not a journalist and have never ever ever....ever.... said that i was? just want to make certain we are clear on this point.

very clear.

after i checked through my post, i thought it was cool that they linked to the post. yet, i was very surprised because that meant he (paolo lucchesi, formerly of eater) actually read it. it is one thing to speculate via google analytics regarding who reads a post here and there ....but it is a very different experience to actually know who read a particular post. actually, as i have mentioned before, i still get surprised when i find out that ANYONE actually reads what i've written.

when looking at google analytics, most of the time it doesn't really register that these numbers are people. instead, it is me nerding out. i'm trying to figure out connections of traffic between twitter, flickr, facebook, tumblr, and the blog. it is more of an intellectual exercise in thinking about communication and the flow of communication online. well, that is what antisocial nerds like me do. we treat our social media outlets like our own ant farm or private lab. if i ever decided to go back to school, i would probably study how people communicate via social media and its potential impact for change in society as a whole. yet, that would be quite abstract and not really focused on who the people actually are. in fact, sometimes, when i see things like "hearst", "advance publications", a really cool design firm, sf moma, or the like as the "service provider" on analytics, i kind of pretend that i didn't see it.....because, if i speculated too much about who those people could be, i'd probably start breathing in a paper bag.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

processing with poha

despite a project being due at midnight tonight, i took some time to have a brunch at with a loved one and a walk about the new people building in japantown as they had never been there before. as we played catch up for a couple of hours, i found myself in a familiar situation and asking myself a familiar question.

how do i support and be there for those that i love that have such independent hearts?

i have written about this before.

it isn't like this aspect of my life has gone away. while each person that i love may have very different personalities....they are all....at the core, extremely driven independent people. life does not "just happen" to these people, they make things happen and are often the ones that take on the responsibilities for others.

they are all alphas.

myself included.

so it is interesting to navigate how to provide support, care, and love for independent hearts during challenging times. sometimes approaching this can be akin to approaching a wolf that has their paw in a trap. one has to be very watchful, very careful, very patient, and quite determined to have your way.

from my perspective, the care and support is going to happen, i just have to figure out how it is going to be carried out without pissing off the wolf too much. i think it is safe to say that i am probably among the most stubborn of all of my loved ones. while many of them are more clever, more witty, more funny, more organized, more driven, and more emotionally fluent than i am.....i think i may be decidedly more stubborn then all of them. this is not something to be proud of. it is more of a self-awareness kind of thing.

this is very prominent on my mind at the moment and i realized that if i am going to get my head back into my work project, i needed to process and reflect on this before i get back to work. so these were the thoughts running through my head as i was exploring the "new to me" fruit called poha or cape gooseberry.


i bought these at the farmers market yesterday and it tasted quite delicious. when i felt the berry burst on my tongue i thought...a bit tart...a bit sweet...with a flavor that is similar to a grapefruit. then the skin gives it a more savory earthy flavor...similar to the skin of a tomato. there are also these super tiny seeds...that aren't as cushioned as the seeds in a tomato. i was intrigued.

so i bought a bunch and have them at home right now.

the husks themselves are very lovely.

each light husk holds a berry....when you hold one, they are unexpectedly light....

then when you peel the husks back, you see the little treasure reveal itself. when you peel back the husk, you can smell the earthy almost tomato-like fruity aroma.




it seems difficult to know which ones are yellow or green from the outside, but please avoid the unripe green ones. according a web page housed with purdue, it seems like the green ones may be toxic:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/cape_gooseberry.html

i think this may be one of those things that is better safe than sorry. unfortunately, i didn't read this until after i tried a green one. the green ones are pretty bitter. it never crossed my mind that they would be better left uneaten. i thought "hmmm, why not try for comparison purposes?" ironically enough, i felt my tummy do some whirling and cramping right before i began looking for historical information online on poha for this blog. i was a wee bit annoyed by the digestive issues but i didn't think it was the fruit as it could have been anything that i ate over the past day or two. it wasn't until i saw the reference to the unripe fruit being potentially toxic that i had a moment of ....hmmm....should i tell someone? you know just in case?

naw.

i, like those i love, am pretty independent, and feel rather silly asking for help or support.

the irony of this happening while i was processing about how do i provide support for independent hearts is not lost upon me.

so after thinking about this a bit more, the very practical part of the foodie hunter won out. i called the heart sister to let her know what i did. so now she is calling me every hour on the hour to make certain that i haven't poisoned myself. while i don't think i have, especially from just a single berry.... and it is probably just coincidence. i'm drinking a lot of mint tea while i write this posting in an effort to flush things out of my body.

yet, the ripe poha are lovely little fruits. there is a bit of a oil on the outside when you peel them from the husk. also, there is an abundance of these tiny seeds. this is what they look like on the inside....



yes, there are a couple of green ones on that plate. i ate a couple of halves after i took the shots and well before i read that stuff on the purdue web site. oh well, it is good to have close family where you can call and say things like "i may have done something stupid but i don't know for sure and can you call me to make certain i didn't poison myself? and did i mention how stupid i feel?"

i'm not certain what the universe is trying to tell me at this moment. it is all rather odd that this went down when and while i was processing about what it means to support those that i love who are so independent.....who never want to be perceived as a burden....who take so much time to be responsible for others....even those that they may not personally like or care about.....who i know that can handle anything that life hands to them by themselves....but really......they shouldn't have to.

because.....you know.....because this is what it means to love and be loved.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

the other side


i'm currently noshing on a very simple yet delicious tomato tartine (i.e., open faced sandwich). it is moments like this where i end up sighing after every third bite or so thinking about how much i love food. the ingredients for this simple sandwich are acme upstairs bread, a nice organic mayo, black pepper, tomatoes from dirty girl, and maldon sea salt...


as i am noshing on this snack, i am also reflecting on the last 24 hours. it was about 24 hours ago when i arrived at hapa ramen at off the grid to help out in the stand.

if you had asked me, i don't know, yesterday at 9am....after i had been through a few hours of meetings....what my thoughts would be about receiving a text message from hapa ramen asking if i'd be up for helping out at off the grid later that night.... i would have thought that was a rather crazy idea.

yet, sure enough, at about 9:30am i received the message on my phone.

there were many things running through my head when i saw that text but the most prominent one was that they must be unexpectedly down a person and are likely having difficulty finding someone. then i did some mental rescheduling of the next few days....as the project i am working on has a sunday midnight (monday 8am uk time) deadline....and realized that i could make it work so i let hapa ramen know that i'd be there.

so i was.

i remember as i got off muni and walked to fort mason,


my stomach started doing little turns as it has been a very long time since i was in a "kitchen" oriented environment. my food service experience is limited to a pizza joint/bar when i was a teenager while i was in school. basically, when i walked away from that job, i learned how to carry a 25 pound bag of flour, smoke, pour a pint, cock block, work a mixer, and just how long hours could be in the food industry. it wasn't exactly a high end pizza + cocktail kind of place. i also didn't think those very-faded-from-my-memory-skills would really help out for off the grid.

also, i am old enough to have worked on a lot of different teams in various industries. so i also understood that unexpectedly walking into an established team in a potentially high pressure situation where folks have to deliver RIGHT NOW would provide an interesting dynamic. i definitely didn't want to be the one, as the newbie/unknown, to drag the team productivity down.

funny how this sort of thing translates across industries doesn't it?

the turns in the stomach subsided a bit after i found where hapa ramen had begun to set up and various hellos and hugs were exchanged with folks. i sure as hell wouldn't have been there if i didn't like them and respect what they are working to achieve.

as the setting up continued, i saw a gal with a camera take some pictures. i thought that was funny....as that is usually me..... i'm the gal with the camera on the other side of the counter. yet, for friday night, i'd be on this side...looking out...


and these would be the things i would see....




these pictures are the only ones i took on friday night as i was very focused on the tasks at hand.

from the beginning of the shift, i took in the overall directions i received from hapa ramen mama as well as observed the flow of the team, how they interacted, and where i could insert myself to help out without disturbing the established flow. i bet a couple of them thought it was kind of weird that i wouldn't eat or drink anything for the first couple of hours...but i was too busy focused on watching, absorbing, and doing certain tasks (i.e., practice practice practice). i wanted the tasks to become second nature before i got distracted with things like eating. i fully realized that if i was going to do fuck ups it had better be before the anticipated rush hit.

yet, despite all of my quiet seriousness and focus throughout the evening, i could also appreciate the strong connections they have with each other. there is the laughter, the moments of silliness to blow off steam, the support they provide for each other, the nudges, check-ins, the care, and the very distinct awareness they have for each other. this distinct awareness especially comes through during those "buckle down" intense moments when a slew of tickets arrived all at once and their work is a flurry of graceful choreography within a small space.

all of this activity is just within the team itself.
there was so much going on in that small hapa ramen stand. what i've written about doesn't even include all of the folks that come by to visit, talk shop, or even the clients ordering, picking up, and enjoying the ramen.

notice that i haven't said anything about the ramen?

it is because i didn't eat any. it wasn't because it didn't look and smell lovely (because it did). it also wasn't about not being tempted to dip my fingers into the various pots or containers to eat the pork belly, green/yellow beans, kale, or take/crack one of the sous vide eggs with the beautiful yolks over some freshly cooked handmade noodles.....because i was definitely tempted. oh, yes i was. you betcha. yet, for me, i knew that i would be paying a visit to their bar tartine pop up on the 27th....and wanted to save the experience for then....where i could slow down and appreciate the ramen as an eater.

while my friday evening experience "on the other side" was extremely unexpected, i had a great time and have a further appreciation for folks that decide to put themselves out there, night after night, to share their passion for food.

well, dear hearts....time to get back to the my day job.

until later....


hapa ramen, http://haparamensf.com/ , tuesdays and thursdays farmers' market 10-2pm, ferry plaza farmers market, one ferry building, san francisco, ca 94114, http://www.cuesa.org/markets/; off the grid street food event at fort mason on fridays at 5pm