recently, i worked FOH for a friend at an event....that interestingly enough...wasn't for hapa. after the event, sus sent me a text message about how a friend of a friend mentioned to her how "charming" i was with that smile of mine at the event. i remember, quite frankly, that when that text message came in...i choked in disbelief....wheezed a little bit...and then started laughing.
there is always a first for everything.
there are many descriptors that have been used to describe me throughout the years....the most common descriptors being smart, analytical, robotic, scarily efficient, stubborn, independent, ummmm...intimidating....and well, cranky......and well....hmmm.....kind of an asshole.
charming, is not usually among the list.
after i was done choking, wheezing, and laughing, i took a moment and thought about it (hello! analytical!).
i suppose it made sense.
i suppose it made sense because it is really all about context.
when i love you, believe in you, and want to support you....then things are quite different. i'm not an asshole. when people see me in that context, then i suppose i smile a lot....i laugh a lot....and i don't even realize that i'm doing it. it is me....just being me....being real....in that moment.
i remember when i was working FOH for an event where CK was selling some of her holiday sweets. i've been eating CK's food for a long time and have always been an advocate for her food. here are some of the pics of her holiday sweets that i took earlier including a shot of her candy cane marshmallows that i've been having with my hot chocolate........
doesn't that look just tantalizingly and sexy? sigh.
my love and excitement for her food is sincere and i have a feeling that folks probably picked up on that. it wasn't manufactured. i was representing someone that i believe in. when i think about the folks that tried CK's food for the first time that day....i find that i'm smiling a wicked smile right now...just thinking about it. i remember intently watching the faces of people before and after they tasted her food for the first time. i remember thinking "you have no idea just how delicious what you are about to eat is going to be" right before they tasted a sample....and then feeling quite wickedly gleeful when i watched their faces transform into a blend of utter surprise and pleasure.....and oftentimes there was with an "OMG" or "holy shit" thrown in there.
in my head, when i would see their pleasure at eating CK's food, i thought "gotcha!!!!"
sometimes, the proof really is on the plate and that is all you need.
speaking of proof on the plate....or both plate and bowl actually.... there is also the helping out that i do at hapa.
helping out at hapa is on a completely different level....especially in terms of scale. as a well known presence within san francisco, hapa has their legion of passionate fans that often make special scheduling arrangements to ensure that they are able to eat hapa's food. good food, made with good ingredients, and made with good intentions. these fans have high expectations for hapa's food and they know exactly what they want. when i help out with hapa, i am keenly aware of the fans.....as well as every member of the hapa team that works very hard to bring their "A" game to ensure that the fans are not let down.
it makes for a very intense service.
there are so many fans. i am naturally a very curmudgeonly anti-social uncharming type of person who doesn't suffer fools....and who, quite frankly, shouldn't be around people on a regular ongoing basis.
on the surface, it doesn't make logical sense that these two components could peacefully co-exist.
yet, when i am in the hapa stand, i am there because i believe in richie's vision for the food. i know exactly where the food comes from. i know where the ingredients are sourced....because oftentimes those very farmers come to the stand to eat. i know who makes the food that respects the ingredients from these farmers. i know many, within the extended hapa family, that decide to contribute time, support, and resources because they believe in what hapa is doing.
i know that i'm a cranky person. yet, i also know that my belief in representing who and what i love....trumps all crankiness. this happens when i'm working with hapa, working other events, or even just being really excited about a particular dish from folks in the bay area and beyond. also, paradoxically enough, when i put aside my typical cranky ass personality and focus on providing a friendly experience that underscores and respects the food....it is actually sincere. i don't do this because i have to. i do this because i want to. i don't do this because have expectations of some sort of return. for me, this isn't a P&L statement. it isn't business. it is personal. it is because i personally want them to succeed.
while not having any expectations of a return, sometimes, there are startling unexpected moments that leave me stupefied....but in a good way.
for example.....despite hapa being at the ferry building on tuesdays and thursdays for over a year now...there are still many folks that are newbies to the food of hapa. it is usually quite gratifying to hear when someone has had the food for the first time and enjoyed it. just hearing that makes me feel this encroaching sort of warmth....you know....kind of like the warm that invades the grinch. yet, there are times when the newbies take their enjoyment to heights that amaze an incredibly cynical person like me. recently, when i was working a service....a client who had only had the food twice decided to buy us mittens....because they thought we looked cold.
think about that for a second.
this was a stranger. this was only their second time eating hapa's food. they loved the food. their love of the food put them in such an incredible good mood. they saw that we were cold. they decided to buy us mittens.
a random act of kindness from a stranger born from enjoyment of a lovely meal.
i know that the client was almost in a disbelief that they were doing this...and was almost sheepish really....but we were pretty thrilled. we also knew that there wasn't any expectation of "return" because they had already paid and such well before they decided to give the mittens to us.
i was pretty amazed and touched by the unexpected kindness and generosity of the gesture.
i still am actually.
while i enjoy being immersed in technology for "my real" job....the pace...the stimulation.....the intellectual puzzles.....and more...., there is something about the everyday human connections, care, and sense of community that occur between strangers around food that is supremely unique.
it isn't about logic, analytics, adoption levels, metrics, scales, or p&l statements.
or it isn't for me.
when i started on this journey a few years ago, i had no idea that i would be doing what i am doing now. none. all i really knew was that i began the journey with a very simple premise....represent what you love.
Friday, December 30, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
wired and tired.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
yeah, i know that i haven't been writing for a while.
well, i haven't been writing here anyway.
when i started, i never expected anyone to read this blog. i have some rather mixed feelings knowing folks are reading it. however, my feelings about people trying to tell me what to write or how i should conduct myself on this blog are not mixed. what i have learned is that the more people that read this blog, the more contact i have with people that seem to have a sense of entitlement regarding what i write.
this is mind boggling on many levels.
this is particularly mind boggling since i have never....not even once...asked anyone what they think about my blog. i have never solicited any opinions or feedback about it. i am never the one to bring it up in conversation. i have stated....repeatedly...over the years...that i write for me and me only.
over the past few weeks, i have been thinking about whether or not to continue.
i'm not going to lie. i'm still thinking about it.
i remember when i was finishing up my studies at berkeley [which was a VERY long time ago btw]...a couple of my profs.....noting....that i had a "knack" for research, how i was running an academic student group that ran events, a newsletter, peer advising, etc., and the fact that i was 19 when i started on my senior year honors thesis....they all assumed that i was going into academia.
OH HELL NO.
i thought it was rather mind boggling that they even thought they had a say in what i would do with my life.
they may have seen me in class or office hours but they knew nothing about who i was. by this point in my life, i learned that folks...especially teachers...see what they want to see...and see what they hope to "shape and mold" into what they want....not necessarily what the student actually wants.
the last couple of years of berkeley, i was incredibly stressed out about my decision to not work (when i started college i had two jobs....one at a combo bar/dive/pizza joint and another at a retail sales gig at a kitchen gear store), racking up more loans, and do things like unpaid internships and running the student organization. these profs knew nothing of this. they also knew nothing of how i have always hated school. always. i love learning.....but i've always hated school....and going into academia would mean school for the rest of my life.
i said nothing of this to the profs. when they would make murmurings and suggestions about getting my P.h.D., i stated quite clearly that the only three letters i'd be pursuing post-school were: J.O.B. my main objective included my earning enough money to pay off my student loans and becoming financially independent. this was a non-negotiable.
the profs wouldn't give up about trying to influence my path....they keep on saying things about getting a job writing for living....to which my response was
"i don't want to be the talent. i want to find the talent".
like most adults i came across during my neophyte years, they looked at me like i was from another planet.
i cannot tell you how many times folks have had a sense of entitlement regarding what i should do with my life...especially when i was a kid.
- no, i didn't want to be an engineer.
- no, i didn't want to be a lawyer.
- no, i didn't want to be a scientist
- no, i didn't want to be a doctor
- no, i didn't know what i want my future wedding/husband to be like because maybe i won't get married.
- no, i didn't want to be ten years old and be in college.
i don't get people that have so much personally invested in influencing other people to do what they want them to do. i think those people need to take a real close look at themselves, their own motivations, and what they find so lacking in themselves that they need to influence others so badly.
i remember the day when i was promoted to being a full fledged editor. JS bought me a rather fancy pen to sign my first contract as an editor. he was always so proud of me....referring to me as a "phenom". i remember how i sat there in my office with a view, this fancy pen, and one of the contracts.....and thought back to those profs who looked at me like was an alien. while i didn't know when i left school exactly what it was.....how i was going to get there....i found what i wanted. i became the person who found the talent and i was good at it.
while i am no longer an editor.....that was a couple of lifetimes ago....and why i decided to stop being an editor is a story for another time......i think i'm remembering this story now...because it is a way of reminding myself that i've never taken the typical path for anything.
not when i was a kid, not when i was in school, not in my various "careers"...and not.....not even now.
oddly enough, it has always been a battle against what other folks feel entitled to regarding my life....which makes little sense. why should other people even care? i mean, really?
it seems that despite other people's expectations, sense of entitlement regarding what i should do with my life, there has always been a constant of me saying
"go fuck yourself. i decide what i want to do with my life".
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
tough day today.
filled with conflict, politics, and anger.
the kind that makes one....or me....feel like i should sit in extremely hot shower....as if the taint of the experience could be washed away. after over seven hours of this, i really needed to take a break away from everything. i think it helped that i decided to check twitter and my feed seemed to have quite a few references to the rather hilarious video snippet that is a promo for the upcoming broadcast segment where ryan farr talks sausage with martha stewart. in that minute long video, there is MARTHA STEWART bringing up how sausage casings can be akin to condoms. there was some respectful banter from ryan farr and i have to give him props for "going with the flow" so gracefully.
i know if was me i think i'd be rather dumbfounded and speechless.
i watched the video twice in a row and laughed aloud both times. it was a good reminder that there are other things going on in the world. it was also a good reminder how laughter helps make anything a bit easier.....and how stepping away from something toxic is also a good idea.
so i decided to take a walk.
yes, i know it is a bit chilly in sf right now...but i really just needed to take a walk. i walked around the neighborhood for a while....and then started thinking i should eat something before i go to the sfmoma party tonight. i should have something in my stomach. i hadn't eaten all day. yet, i really wasn't hungry. i tried to think about potential things in my neighborhood. i received a note/notice via social media from some branding folks that roostertail was opening up in lower pac heights on sutter and decided to take a wander by. while i really wasn't in the mood to try something new (sometimes, in moods like this one.....i just want something that is familiar, comforting, and good) but i thought since i was walking around i should take a peek...and make an effort. i took a wander by and definitely saw from the outside some stylish accents....like the red chairs that pop. i love red.
there was also a sign in the door/window that indicated that they wouldn't upon until 5:30 today. this makes complete sense as today is their first day.
frankly, i must admit that i was a bit relieved.
in my head i thought "well, i made an effort to try something new! now i can just go to wing wings instead." it is really where i wanted to go all along....someplace i knew that i would like.....it is a comfortable space with what i know will be good food. it was like the universe was saying "yes! you don't have the be the exploratory foodie hunter today." i'll try out roostertail another day. i'm always interested in seeing what new places decide to set up a place my neighborhood.
so i went to wing wings and the always friendly FOH predicted that i was going to order the fried chicken that they are running on special today. under normal circumstances, i totally would have. i love the fried chicken...specifically christian's fried chicken (hello, well documented in the blog already). yet today....methinks because i wanted something that i personally find very comforting....i wanted the chicken salad on a biscuit. i think we each have certain comfort foods....and this is one of mine. i love the biscuit. i love the spices (which i suspect is a swipe of the herb sauce i love so much in addition to a few other things). this tiny sandwich is one of my personal hall of fame comfort foods (what's in my hall of fame comfort foods that i don't personally make? pho, bun bo hue, banh cuon, banh gio, carnitas burrito from la taqueria, farro porridge from il cane rosso, 4505 meats cheeseburger, and basically everything that CK, amy, sus, richie, and humphry slocombe make).
nope, i didn't take a picture of the chicken salad on a biscuit. i didn't really feel like it. i just felt like eating it and the crispy crunchy pickles. i love those pickles. yet, i think those that read me often enough have seen many o'many pics of what this looks like.
it hit the spot and then i headed back up fillmore to grab some coffee before i went back to work. i had to laugh when i saw the sign outside jane today (see top pic). it is always nice to have a moment of random laughter. when i went in to place my order, one of the baristas made a guess about what i was going to order.
methinks i'm rather predictable huh? but in a good way.
as i walked home, i reminded myself that although earlier had been pretty tough...it doesn't always have to be like that....and it is good to step away....into something completely and 100% different.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, December 2, 2011
i slept in. it was glorious. last night before sus and i embarked on our wandering around the lower haight and up divis, we met up at wing wings so that i could buy a cinnamon pastry togo.
i had a feeling that it was going to come in handy today. as i picked up the pastry, the FOH folks recommended that i make french toast out of it....and you know....french toast sounded like a really good way to underscore my lazy morning.
i scrounged around my kitchen to see what i had on hand to make the french toast.....a kind of french toast that would hopefully be an appropriate homage to the pastry.
i decided that the french toast would be lovely with some of the candied spicy bourbon pecans that i made a while ago, fresh whipped cream with a wee bit of bourbon, and slices of warren pear (frog hollow). i made the batter for the french toast out of organic pastry flour, egg (eat well), cream, and maple syrup. i, of course, also fried up the slices of battered pastry with butter (straus european style).
it was a pretty decadent brunch. it was a way to have dessert for breakfast....in a legit way.
as i made my way through the breakfast, i was thinking about some of the food from wing wings in general...and specifically, the fried chicken that they are running as a special. they are plating it in different ways with different sides. folks should follow them on twitter to get a heads-up on when they are running fried chicken on their menu.
quite frankly, i never had christian's fried chicken when he was at little skillet. egad! i know, it is quite an omission...but alas, i never had it. my curiosity was rampant about it though. i think it is pretty obvious how much i enjoy what christian puts on the menu at wing wings. when i heard that he was going to put it on the menu, i ensured that i was on hand to try it and was very fortunate (believe me when i say i know how lucky i am) that i was able to have a sneak peek of the first fried chicken special that wing wings put out.....
which was fried chicken, greens, and sweet potatoes. they also plated some of the "herb" sauce (which is one of my favorite sauces for the wings btw) on the side.
i can still remember the first touch....the texture of it....the hot light coating....and the first bite....the hot savory salty crispy first bite.
i remember thinking "oh fuck....so this is why. this is why there is a cult-like following for his chicken. hmmmmm."
it makes a lot of sense.
a hella lot of sense.
i wasn't surprised though....it is aligned with my expectations.....given the experiences i've had with the other food offerings on the menu.
i've had the fried chicken again since that first time....and it is always so wickedly deliciously enjoyable. i end up licking and sucking on my fingers and bones....not wanting to waste any bit of the savory salty flavor. the last time i had the fried chicken though....it came with an unexpected side effect.
i remember telling sus about it over dinner one night when we were at mission chinese and i was testing out the low light settings in my new camera......
you see, the odd unexpected side effect was that there were three males that decided to communicate and express admiration after i left wing wings. after the third time with someone who was at least a decade younger than me, i was like WTF? this kind of stuff doesn't happen to me. i remember tweeting something about it too. i only tweet about something like this if i'm extraordinary annoyed or extraordinary surprised.
i was extraordinarily surprised.
because....let's be frank, i'm not THAT cute.
i'm about average. when i've got my style going on, i'm not the most hideous thing ever. but-i'm-not-three-straight-dudes-giving-props-in-a-row-kind-of-cute.
most of the time, when i am approached/whatever....i know that it has primarily to do with perceived opportunity than anything else. i travel around quite a bit by myself....and i'm short. as a result, i find that folks see me and my short self walking around by myself..... they see that as an opportunity to "go fishing". you know...."just to see what happens". i bet it would happen if i had horns, a tail, and three noses....simultaneously. victor was asking me about this the other night when we were sharing a meal...and mentioned that he thought that sounded rather scary to deal with. i hadn't thought about it that way. i think of it as something that any female has to deal with when traveling around by oneself in an urban setting. it is just the way it is. what am i going to do? not go out? ha! that would be a rather disheartening to allow something like that to keep one from living life.
anyway.......so, i know that it wasn't me, what i was wearing, etc....that was eliciting that kind of odd reaction...so me and my nerd self have reached the only logical conclusion given the evidence.
i surmised that it must have been christian's fried chicken.
i think there is something about eating the fried chicken that initiates the release of pheromones.
i think that this theory also needs further investigation.....so if you, dear reader, decide to go try the fried chicken on special at wing wings.....please let me know if something similar happens to you as well.
can you imagine what a scientific breakthrough this would be? pheromones from fried chicken? that would explain why so many people love fried chicken. you know that someone....somewhere....somehow....would figure out how to bottle it......all in the name of science of course.