Wednesday, November 17, 2010

back in the city

i'm back in the city and it feels good to be home.

i'm hoping that i'll finally get over this flu-cold thingy that i have and tried to help it along today by hitting up OTD on bush for a bowl of soup for an early lunch.

is this really such a shock dear readers? that the first place i would hit up after arriving home is OTD on bush? when i sat down at the bar, one of my fav servers (who is leaving! for the east coast! maybe i'll see her in a magazine someday as a famous theatre actor) let me know what is new on the lunch menu....which was the caramelized catfish. i do like this dish. it is one of the dishes i had ordered when i rented the private room at the sister restaurant slanted door for my rather epic bday dinner a couple of years ago. while i knew that the catfish would be good, i was in the mood for soup and also when i saw that creme fraiche ice cream was on the dessert menu...that cinched it for me. i knew if i had the soup that i'd have room for the ice cream. i also noticed a change to their coffee drinks....as they now use four barrel coffee for their coffee drinks and ordered a cap with my dessert.

my soup arrived pretty quickly.....



and i demolished it pretty quickly as well.

yet, i did do a bit of lingering over the creme fraiche ice cream as well as my cappuccino....



i'm not going to lie. going to OTD on such a regular basis is a complete indulgence....and one that i doubt that i will be forgoing in the future. a gal's gotta have some indulgences in life....and good food is absolutely positively mine.

well, i have to go dear hearts. i have a meeting that starts in 25 min. "first day" back and already a midnight meeting....i really am back.

until later.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

on my way home....

i'm in the lounge at jfk....waiting for the flight that will take me back home to the bay.


as i'm sippin on the lounge's version of hot chocolate, i'm thinking back upon this trip to nyc. originally, i had envisioned this trip to be one of reflection and discovery. i had been feeling so restless....not as certain about my place.....and somehow needing to know that i need to step away from everything to evaluate a few things and gain some perspective. i certainly was able to achieve this...yet, not in the manner i expected. i didn't expect for my cold-flu to peak while i was in nyc....i certainly didn't expect to hurt myself and be laid up in the apartment for a couple of days....and hamper my ability to eat at more new places......yet, i did rediscover the balance within myself.

sometimes we...or in this case..."i" need to step away from life to realize, remember, and rediscover why i love the life i have and not take it for granted. sometimes, it is also good to step away from business of the day-to-day....minute-to-minute....and realize what is it that i miss? who is it that i miss? what aspects are of my life do i carry with me no matter where i am? ....and also, when faced with silence staring up at an unfamiliar ceiling in an unfamiliar town on an unfamiliar lumpy bed....when there is no running away....no barriers....no self-judgments....no unreasonably high self-expectations....and just give myself the space to admit to certain fallacies, inconsistencies, and be comfortable with them.....in myself.

it was so different to be in new york this time. i don't mean the being here for work, being sick, or getting physically hurt either. living in san francisco, a part of san francisco that i never dreamed i would have ever been able to afford to live in....and having this life that i have now.....made me experience new york very differently this time. the last few times i visited new york, it beckoned quite seductively.....and i felt myself almost inexplicably drawn to it....as if the prospect of losing myself into the city....a city where i could be surrounded by people...and ride this intense wave of energy but still be a curmudgeonly hermit at the same time....was very very attractive. i'm not saying that i won't find myself living in new york in the future....i'm saying that if i do so, it will be under decidedly less dramatic and self-romanticized notions.

as i was going through some of my pics, killing time in this lounge, i came across these pics of me taking a break on the rooftop of the sfmoma with my bluebottle coffee....




they made me smile and think here is just one reason why i love the life that i have now....despite some of its current challenges, uncertainties, and potential heartbreaks.

i suppose i did find what i wanted to find from this trip to new york. i found or rediscovered an acceptance of myself....prepared once again....for what the future may bring.

well, it is time for me to shut down the computer and make my way to the gate.

until later dear hearts,

xxoooo

Monday, November 15, 2010

surreal


location: upper west side, nyc
time: almost midnight

yesterday, i found myself apartment bound due to kinda hurting myself. i pretty much just rested up yesterday because i didn't want to miss out on the chance to see GC + RM for dinner as well as get a peek into GC in "work mode". when GC emailed me about attending a talk with folks from "love and other drugs" that he was going to moderate and indicated that mr. jake gyllenhaal was going to be on the panel, i was honestly more excited about the chance to see GC at work. i've known GC for a long time and he has definitely done some supremely crap-o-la jobs and paid his dues.... eventually moving from sf to nyc....with stints at the nytimes, brooklyn academy of music, and other places before landing at variety. i've seen showings of GC's personal work before, but i'd never had a chance to see him doing something like this....so i was very much looking forward to it. as i have written about before, i always like to be there to see friends making strides with their work....to be supportive....or just be a friendly face in the crowd.

after GC, RM, and i had a lovely dinner at vandaag,


GC + i headed off to the theatre. when we arrived and were ushered into the "back room" where there was all of this odd ball projector equipment, refreshments, and well...frankly....quite famous people like anne hathaway, jake gyllenhaal, and edward zwick....with their handlers.

this is sooooo not my world.

my world is of international technology markets.....well, my work world anyway....and my personal world is food. neither of my worlds includes famous movie people.

so this was weird.

real weird.

i mean, i adore "my so-called life". it is a series that is close to my heart.

yet, this was still really weird.

so i ended up backing myself into one of the projector-thingys and tried as much as possible to disappear...which in all practicality was impossible. not only was there not enough room for anyone to not see anyone else in that tiny space, but i think i was one of only people that wasn't wearing black. at that moment, i remember a comment from a gal in a village boutique i visited earlier who said "you don't dress like you are from around here." yup, you could say that. i was wearing my usual colorful accents. flash forward to me in the projector room when i was wishing that i was wearing drab grey or something that would allow me to BLEND into the background as much as possible. but this stupid whining only lasted for a couple seconds. now, i am a practical person so i had a little pep talk with myself and said, "you are who you are so whatever." so i sucked in a deep breath and pretended i was waiting for muni.

yup, that's right, i acted like i was waiting at a bus stop...you know, distracted, day dreaming, half bored, and pretended that there weren't these famous people right in front of me. pretended that they weren't cracking jokes about each other signatures on a poster or noticing the obvious rapport they have with each other. they don't know who i am and they could care less. i didn't want to be rude and intrude upon their space so i made certain i was as far from it as i possibly could....in that tiny space...but still be supportive to GC.

i was pretty relieved when the talk started and we all went into the theatre. i was way more comfortable seeing them all doing the talk then being within direct eye contact distance.
GC was great at moderating and moving the talk along. it was so cool to see him doing this in front of hundreds of people and interacting with the talent. i love seeing my friends being good at what they do, it is just so cool. while i was watching the talk, i realized how the talk itself is a performance. now, i totally get why anne hathaway is famous. she has this charisma, charm, and presence that is very evident in person. i suppose if i had said anything to ms. hathaway tonight, i probably would have asked her something inane but sincere....like where did she get her shoes? she was wearing these really amazing shoes.

well, time for bed.

nite nite.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

peels


location: upper west side, new york
time: 8ish pm

at the moment i'm waiting for a friend to come over for dinner and i thought i'd share with you, dear hearts, the lovely meal that i had at peels earlier this week. when i asked richie for recommendations in new york, i was not surprised to see peels listed as the first recommendation. anyone that has followed richie/linecook on his blog or his twitter account is aware how much he cares about ginger....and it so happens that ginger is a chef at peels....not to mention a former nopa colleague is a sous. also, for those of you who follow this sort of thing in the food world....the folks behind freemans are also behind peels and shuna fish lydon is the pastry chef. these aspects were more than enough to pique my curiosity and ensure that i made a special visit to this place at 325 bowery.

as i walked in, i took a couple of seconds to look around. i noticed the rather large communal table, a delectable selection of pastries behind the counter on the left side of the cafe, and the more extensive seating area on the right. as a newbie, i have no problem approaching a friendly face to ask what the system was....as i could tell that there was one...but wasn't quite certain what it was. the host gal was super nice as she answered my questions and then seated me for table service at the counter. as luck would have it, my server used to live in the bay area. i thought that was pretty funny. the only thing that i knew for certain was that i wanted to try was the biscuit and then the server steered me toward the shrimp and grits....and suggested that i order the biscuit to sop up the additional gravy and such from the shrimp and grits. well, i was sold and ordered it......


and it was supremely delicious. hmmmm. i am sighing as i recall this dish.


as i was noshing on my food, i took in the surroundings and it was nice to see the light hustle and bustle. i went during off hours during the week as i heard it can get pretty busy. also, from where i was sitting i was fortunate to be able to see some other delectable things on the way to their tables....i love those plates!



by the way, the biscuit was seriously good. seriously.


there was a couple of times that i saw a person in chef whites that i suspected was ginger. did i say anything? nope. what was i suppose to say, "ummm, hi, i'm foodie hunter and richie told me about your place?" i think it is different if one is a chef.....or it would be different if i wasn't so socially awkward. lets be real shall we? anyway.



after i was done with my lovely shrimp and grits, i was absolutely positively going to order stuff to go.



there were so many things to choose from. yet, i ended up deciding on things that could be put into my bag since i knew that i would be walking around the moma for a couple of hours. i picked out the peels muffin (buckwheat, rosemary, and lemon marmalade), the brown butter rice crispy, and their version of an oreo....except a million times million better. when i bit into the peels i-o cookie....i remember thinking that the next time i'm in new york with the heart sister...she has to try this, i know that she will love it.

well, gotta go finish making dinner as my friend should be here in a few minutes.....until later.....

xxxooo

just another morning......in the upper west side




location: upper west side, new york
time: 10:30ish am

yesterday evening after a jaunt around the city, i arrived back at the apartment and reheated some soup i had made the night before (chicken stock, matzo balls, chilies, sage, thyme, spinach, salt + pepper) for dinner.



then i promptly fell asleep. i seem to do this to myself quite often....assume that i must always be at a "go-go-go" pace. nevermind that i am pretty sick and that i've been at this conference earlier this week. perhaps if i was home, it may have taken more subtle hints from my body about taking a break rather than just collapsing on the bed.

as i woke up this morning, i realized that i need to take better care of myself. interestingly enough, i also realized that i had the ingredients to make myself a small batch of some homemade thyme cough syrup (honey + thyme) so i set that into motion this morning.



it is basically brewing a strong thyme tea and then mixing it with honey. the strength of the "cough syrup" comes from the amount of thyme you mix with the hot water. when i have made this for loved ones, i used about 1 cup of thyme leaves only (that is a lot of thyme btw..a whole lot), then boiled two cups of water, poured it over the thyme, steeped until cool, then only mixed 1 cup of the tea with 2 cups of raw local honey. this makes quite a large amount of cough syrup. as i waited for the thyme to steep (notice that i included the stems this time....as i wasn't making it very strong...and it is what i have on hand)....i figured that i'll just wing it once the water has cooled. btw, this stuff really does taste like medicine.



after i put that aside, i decided to make myself some hot chocolate. i used some chocolate buttons that i bought from one of my many trips to zabar's (i love that store). i also decided to add a chili pod.



yes, i've been doing some grocery shopping since i left the hotel for this apartment. i put some water on the stove to boil and then added some hot water and mixed the water with the chocolate....

i tasted it and it was a wee bit to intense chocolate wise for me this morning so i cut it with a bit of warm milk (that i nuked in the microwave).



once it was to the flavor and consistency that i liked, i nuked the bowl of hot chocolate for another minute to get it hot and then transferred it into a cup (see top pic).

i know that i'm only in new york for a few more days but i think i am going to take it easy today. you may be seeing a few posts from me today dear reader as a result. i think today is going to be about staying close to the apartment, perhaps hitting up one of the green markets, and making dinner.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

ted and honey

location: upper west side, new york
time: 11:30pm

last night about this time i was having rather gut-busting giggly texting conversation with JW about hanging out while i am in town. as JW was going to be off from work due to vetran's day and wasn't planning to come into manhattan, we decided to meet up in brooklyn for lunch. after we made our plans and i laid on the lumpy hotel mattress, staring up at the ceiling, i realized that this would be a good opportunity to pop into ted and honey in cobble hill. they have been open for a while now and i must admit that i've been keeping an eye on it from afar since they have opened. you see, in a previous life....or what seemed like a previous life....i knew the chef.

the first time i met the chef was when he was a sous at bix. i was having dinner with one of his childhood friends....a childhood friend that i eventually married, and subsequently divorced over three years ago. it is one of the rather unfortunate things about break ups....in that not only are there divisions of "things" but there are also divisions of friendships and people. the chef and his wife were among "B"'s people....so post-divorce, it seemed inappropriate that i would attempt to contact them....despite the care and respect that i still have for them both.

i remember our first "double date" at a sf giants game when the chef's girlfriend (and later wife) confided to me that he was "the one" for her. i remember them at my wedding....and how the chef was rather upset on my behalf regarding some behavior of certain guests. i remember being at their wedding and being so happy for them.

when i started to see the press around the opening of ted and honey, i was rather thrilled for him. i read about how he was continuing to seek out farmers and doing his thing...which even included making his own ketchup. this chef was doing these sort of things well before it became "the thing". i seriously considered visiting ted and honey last october and this past march. yet, i didn't. i had this thing that i shouldn't even visit....that somehow even that was inappropriate. this time, i decided that i would wander by and if i didn't see him or his sister inside, then i would pop in to take a look. i rationalized in my head that if i didn't see/talk to him then it wouldn't be inappropriate.

so before i met JW, i took the train to bergen and walked to ted and honey.


the red paint makes it stand out on the tree lined corner and the nearby park. i saw that there were people inside having breakfast and coffee. i didn't see the chef so i took a deep breath and went inside. as i looked around i couldn't help but smile. it is a lovely space. there were these touches.....the exposed brick; the shelves of jars and food for sale; ceiling fans anchored into an almost embossed ceiling that reminded me of new orleans for some reason; the combination of the large communal table, smaller tables, and a small counter...gives the space a sense of separation but cozy community at the same time. there was an efficient use of space....but it wasn't sterile. it was like stepping into a well worn and visited neighborhood cafe. there were items on the menu that were cracking me up....like....of course...there would have to be something called "redneck" on the menu. as i knew i would be having a meal with JW later on, i only ordered a cappuccino and a blueberry lemon scone. i sat happily at the counter, noshin on the yummy scone...


just watching everybody....the stylish staff, the families, the couples, the single people doing some reading or work over a snack and coffee....all enjoying themselves.... and it hit me that he and his sister really made it happen.




for reals.

i just felt so proud of him. intellectually, i was having a hard time understanding why i felt this way, sitting at the counter, watching everybody. why should i feel proud? i had nothing to do with this. i even chided myself....as i wondered if that was even condescending? this feeling of pride? it wasn't my intention but i was really having a hard time understanding why i felt this way. i haven't spoken or seen the chef in years. yet, i did feel this way. sometimes, emotions are what they are. i felt proud of what he has accomplished.....making good food with an emphasis on the quality of the ingredients and where they are sourced....making food that people were enjoying...making food that underscored the connections between families and friends.

i can only imagine how challenging, exciting, and scary it must have been...and perhaps still is as they expand their kitchen capabilities and move toward potential dinner service.

as i packed up to meet JW, i noticed the chef's sister by the cashier. the times i had seen her around the holiday season years ago, she was always so stylish....a kind of stylish that seemed effortless and lovely ....i noticed that hasn't changed one bit. i paused and wondered if i should approach her.....then made the decision in a nanosecond to not go up and say anything. there was no need to bring any potential drama or awkwardness into that lovely place. i just wanted to see what they had accomplished...to not just read about it....but see it. i'm glad i did.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

old school


location: new york city
local time: 12:51am


heya.

i'm in new york and am staying on the upper west side.

i've been pretty quiet on the blog front over the past few days because i've been in these all-day meetings and have fallen asleep a wee bit exhausted after decompressing over a cup of hot chocolate from jacques torres.....


or a frozen custard from the shake shack....



this cold-flu-whatever-it-is seems particularly strong and lingering this time. i have been fighting it off for weeks only to be hit rather hard over the past few days. the cold-flu-whatever-it-is was at its worst on sunday when i got off the plane. yet, i had gotten a message from VG, a native new yorker, that he may only be able to hang out on sunday due to some work travel, so i just kind of sucked it up as much as possible as i wanted to be able to see him while i was in the city. the plan was to visit katz and then a couple of places a friend had emailed me about in or near the LES. why katz? well, i wanted to experience an "everyday" experience that VG has done for years and one of his places is katz. VG also wanted me to experience the katz "ticket" system.

all i have to recommend to you dear hearts is "don't lose the ticket" they give you when you walk into the front door. you give the ticket to the appropriate person behind the counter to mark up what you've eaten. then you give that same ticket to the cashier when you leave. it appears that there are dire and costly consequences if you don't have your ticket with you when you want to leave. remember, this is new york.

yet, what is a wee bit unusual about VG's regular visits is that he goes there primarily for the hot dogs and the knishes. i don't think he's ever had a sandwich. katz is particularly famous for their sandwiches. normally, i'd be up for trying what makes a place famous, but in this case, i wanted to be able to get a peek into what this new yorker likes to eat. so i ordered a hot dog with kraut.....




and then, because i have this cold-flu-whatever-it-is, i ordered the matzo ball soup....




which i enjoyed quite a bit. i love matzo ball soup and demolished it quickly. although i was pretty full at this point, VG went back up the counter to order a couple of knishes.....


for me to try. i was pretty fascinated by these hand held savory pastries. those of you who read me regularly know how much i love the hand held savory pies....from any culture. i wonder if the knish was a food developed from necessity....something that was quick, warm, comforting, inexpensive, and a huge carbo load. the square knish reminded me of a thick patty made of mash potatoes that had a crispy exterior.

and the round knish as a mound of sweetened mash potatoes covered with a thin layer of pastry and a dusting of cinnamon.

overall, it was interesting to visit an old school establishment and see it through the lenses of an outsider and a new yorker simultaneously. unfortunately, i was almost ready to pass out from the combo of cold-flu-sickness and travel weariness so VG navigated and dropped me off at my hotel.

speaking of passing out...it is almost 2am and i think i should stop here....as i am definitely feeling the effects of the day.

until later dear hearts...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

ramen for breakfast and dinner

so i'm sick.

i've been fighting it off for a while, yet, now...whatever it is....has a firm grasp upon me. i am not a pleasant sick person. when i am sick, i am even more cranky than usual....and may the gawds take pity on anyone that has to interact with me.

i suppose it has been a mixed blessing that i've been a bit isolated the last week. i've been dog sitting in hayes valley for a loved one while they have been in nyc and there is this rather massive project i have to finish by tomorrow evening...so i haven't hung out with anyone this week.

i've been living in two places trying to spread out the cuddles between the cuddle monster


as well as my pets. yet, after i arrived into hayes valley this morning and walked the cuddle monster, i realized that this cold-flu-whatever has really hit me hard and thankfully, i didn't have any meetings this morning so i used that as an opportunity to head to the ferry building and grab some ramen from hapa ramen for breakfast. also, as the loved one returns from nyc tonight, i wanted to grab one of hapa ramen's "to go kits" for his dinner.

when i arrived at the ferry building a few minutes before 10am, i kept racking my brain of what to get as a "trade". i mean, it seemed rather obscene to show up at the hapa ramen stand with bourbon before 10am. i decided to hit up prather ranch to see what they had and investigate if there was something i could buy there to eventually trade for some ramen. as i perused the goods at prather ranch, i decided to pass on the sausages because i have a feeling that hapa ramen gets his from 4505 meats. you know, picking something non-alcoholic to trade is not easy....but i eventually settled on two types of bacon. yeah, i know that he can make bacon himself.....but my options were limited.

after buying the bacon, i dropped it off at hapa ramen ...which may or may not have gone over too well...but hey, i'm still learning about this kind of stuff...i'll figure it out eventually. i have a feeling that i may resort to baby stuff for hapa ramen baby. but mrs hapa ramen (as usual) was super nice about my bacon offering. then, i picked up the pork ramen w/sous vide egg kit to go and then concentrated on my big daddy bowl of ramen.....


the deliciousness of the broth, noodles, egg, veggies, and pork belly were exactly what i needed........




to help fight this cold-flu-whatever it is. i didn't even need to use a spoon since i just ended up slurping from the bowl. after i finished, i headed over to dirty girl produce to pick up a couple of things and just smiled to myself as i saw them eating food from hapa ramen as well. i suppose i wasn't the only one having ramen for breakfast today.

as i was waiting to catch muni back to the loved one's place in hayes valley, i was tempted to open up the hapa ramen "to go" kit to see what it looked like.


but i resisted the temptation until i got to his place. i was curious about what the loved one was going to have for dinner tonight and what a formal "to go" kit would look like. as i have blogged about before, hapa ramen put together a custom kit for this loved one when he had strep throat and i'm really glad that hapa ramen decided to go formal with their to go kits. i think they are an excellent idea. this is what the pork w/sous vide egg kit looks like btw...


it consists of a bag of uncooked noodles, veggies, egg, and the porkolicious broth....




you can get the kits on tuesdays and thursdays while they are at the ferry building. you can also get the kits this saturday (november 6th) from 12-2pm at 550 alabama by ordering them from richie@haparamensf.com.

well, break time over....and must get back to my project deadline.

until later dear hearts...