Friday, April 29, 2011

friendship

hmmmm.

after an interesting meeting today, i decided that it was going to take-a-break-at-humphry-slocombe kind-of-day. it must have been serendipitous decision as today is also the day that they are running unique flavors in celebration of the royal wedding. when i walked in, i had to smile since one of the guys behind the glass counter was wearing a princess tiara with such je ne sais quoi that perfectly matched some of the other whimsical decorations in place to celebrate the royal wedding.....



and i also saw another staff member casually break out into an adorable mini dance while i was there. i do love this place. sigh. in humphry slocombe's typical sly wicked delicious selves, they named the royal wedding flavors like spotted dick (which really is a uk dessert/bread pudding btw....but most americans probably don't know that) and eaton mess.....


which were the flavors that i ordered today. the spotted dick flavor was brown butter bread pudding with currants.....and the eaton mess flavor was strawberry and meringue.



it was a lovely pick me up today. also, as i am wont to do when i am in humprhy slocombe, i was thinking about an email i received this morning from a loved one who has completed his move to new york and starts his first day as a bad ass at the bad ass firm next monday....



still miss him? yup. still really fucking proud of him? yup. still feeling an odd mix of happy and sad at the same time? you bet. this is not going away anytime soon. do i believe that he will make it happen and actualize his dream in the city that often crushes other people? i have no doubt that he will make it happen. i fully expect to be in moma someday, open a book, and be able to see his talent, drive, and work recognized and showcased.

because it will happen.

you'll see.

i love knowing that loved ones are pursuing and actualizing their passions. for each of them, it isn't the same thing....and while for one of the loved ones being a bad ass at a bad ass firm is actualizing their passions....and for another loved one...it is maintaining a life balance where they pursue their art on their terms.....or for another it may be creating a loving safe family environment that changes cycles...you know..."be the change you wish to see in the world". their passions vary greatly.....but at the core it is about being and making change.

i don't see any actualization of one type of passion and dream being more or less valid than another.

my role in this....from my perspective....is to love them for who they are....and support them in who they are. simple and complicated all at once. especially for someone who is as socially and emotionally retarded as i am...but that doesn't stop me from continuously trying....i do think this is an area where the effort really does matter....and i do hope that those i love know that i love them. it is really the most important thing in life.

sometimes that love and support is hard though.

like now.

when i'm like "gawd dammit, i wish you were here, in san francisco" but at the same time i'm like "gawd dammit it, i'm really glad you are there, in new york."

sigh.

such is life, love, and friendship.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

baristas...it totally matters who makes your drinks


i am winding down for the evening and wanted to share with you a moment of how sometimes my intense curiosity (ahem....pure nosiness) can overwhelm my typical anti-social behavior. alas, it is true. sometimes when i am trying to make sense of something....i get very focused on trying to solve it....or make sense of it....that i don't even realize that i've put aside my anti-social behavior until much later. this definitely happened today.

i did my typical work from 7ish until about 3ish....taking a super quick break to make myself a brunch of flat egg noodles seasoned with miso, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and black sesame seeds.....


i found myself in need of taking a real break...and walk outside for a bit.....and grab a hit of caffeine. i decided to drop into jane to see if the soft serve ice cream machine was working. i didn't do the practical efficient thing by calling first.....as i figured that if it wasn't working, i'd just have some four barrel coffee. when i arrived into jane and asked the friendly barista about the machine....they confirmed that it wasn't working. sigh. oh well. no worries though.....and i ordered a cappuccino. at this point, i was thinking that the barista looked EXTREMELY familiar but i couldn't place them. nor was i willing to say "hey, you know you look familiar...." because....well, i'm socially awkward, anti-social, and saying that aloud sounds remarkably like a really awful come on....which is kind of creepy.

so naturally, i said nothing.

yet, when the barista with full on zen like intensity was pouring the milk to the espresso....i could almost hear a "ding! ding! ding!" in my head going off with further recognition. i had seen this barista do this before. a lot. but i still couldn't place them. and of course, i still said nothing as they pushed the cappuccino in my direction.....

it wasn't until i was sitting down and took a sip of my cappuccino that i finally placed the barista. the cappuccino with the four barrel beans was lovely and incredibly smooth. it reminded me of the creamy foamy drinks i usually get at a blue bottle kiosk. eureka! blue bottle! that is where i recognize this barista....they were one of the baristas at the blue bottle in the ferry building. i'm there often.

if you go to any of the blue bottle locations on a regular basis...then you know that you have plenty of time for images of baristas to be integrated into your memory while you are waiting for them to make you your lovely coffee drinks (examples for you blue bottle regulars: how about the supremely extremely super duper attractive salt n' pepper haired barista that works and likely jump starts the hormones of many patrons at the hayes valley kiosk....or.....
i betcha you noticed the short soft-spoken brunette that has recently gone super duper blonde at the ferry building).

at the ferry building in particular, you've got to give them props for making excellent individual coffee drinks under such intense scrutiny....which is probably why this barista's zen intensity looked so familiar. with that mystery solved, i went back to working on my presentation....happily sipping through my cappuccino. then, when i went to the counter to order another beverage, this is where the foodie hunter's curiosity overcame her typical anti-social behavior...as now i had a theory about where i had seen this person before and was supremely curious about whether i was correct.

"hey, did you used to work at blue bottle?"

the barista looked surprised and replied in the affirmative.

"the one in the ferry building?"

the barista looked even more surprised and replied in the affirmative.

that is when i realized, oh-shit,-does-this-make-me-sound-like-a-stalker-or-something? then i quickly explained how i thought they looked familiar earlier, especially when i saw them making the drink, but that i couldn't place them....at first....and how it was all about context. i said that i go to the ferry building a lot and that is why i recognized them.

translation: i'm a food nerd and not a stalker.

i'm guessing that they realized that i wasn't a stalker and we ended up having a conversation about some of the local coffee shops....and i explained why i was asking them about the soft serve machine earlier as i like taking coffee + ice cream breaks...like going to haus and coupling that with visits to humphry slocombe. then we both had a moment of appreciation for the deliciousness that is humphry slocombe ice cream. then the barista also ended up recommending that i try mr. & mrs. miscellaneous....which is totally on my list!....but i hadn't met anyone that has had their ice cream yet.

so when i took my tea back to my table to continue working, i realized that my curiosity totally overcame my typical anti-social behavior and was able to come away with a rec for ice cream in dog patch no less. maybe this will become a regular thing? you know...me actually talking to people, not being so anti-social and being less socially awkward?

naw, probably not.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

another shot at summit


after working from home with meetings and such from about 7ish-2pm today.....and finding that i still needed to get more significant progress done on a presentation slide deck...i decided that i really needed to get out of my apartment....just for a change of scenery. i often think of this as my "phase 2" of the work day.

phase 1 is the frenetic meetings and rapid fire emails/IMs/etc with folks in uk/europe/east-coast-state-side. this is usually 5ish-1 or 7ish-2 depending on the day or my hunger level. then i must insert a break....cook in my kitchen....get outside....eat ice cream....take a walk...go to the library....or something/anything....that is forcing me to step away for a while....before entering phase 2 of the work day.

i have some regular phase 2 spots....when i feel like working outside of my apartment. today, on a whim, i decided to see if there was a spot open at the summit sf. i was kind of half expecting that there wouldn't be. i've written about summit before. i do like the space quite a bit....the vibe energy allows me to be productive but i can still be my anti-social shit self. it is a popular spot on the main valencia corridor so i usually don't have high expectations of getting a seat.

yet, i walked through the front door about 3ish to the tunes of lauren hill flowing through the speakers, i saw a couple of potential open seats. i was pretty excited to snag a spot by the window and must admit that i had a hard time not smiling to myself when a certain chef was kinda singing along to ms. hill. we've never formally met...yet, i know who he is. i did have a big smile on my face when he served up my mexicali cocoa though.......

isn't that pretty? it also helped me jump start into phase 2 of my work day.

after a couple of very productive hours, i can see again why this place is popular. i found myself a bit hungry so on another whim, i decided to grab an early dinner. i ordered up the 4505 meats sausage with the ramp grits. i was pretty certain i was going to like it.........


and sure enough i did. while i always love sausages from 4505 meats.....the grits were also quite lovely.....creamy and very well done....and the spinach was tender and perfect.


i had another moment of trying not to smile when a staff member....in a very respectful way....tried their luck with a fellow patron. i was kind of wondering what was going on when the staff member came over with a cookie that the patron didn't order....to initiate a conversation with said patron. i did my typical "i-am-pretending-that-i-am-hearing-none-of-this" and kinda wished i had my ipod earbuds in to give them some privacy. yet, alas, i didn't....well...because i like the music here. so hence, my studiously focusing on my meal and pretending that i wasn't hearing what i was hearing.

personally, i find initiating that sort of contact to be rather nerve racking.....it is one thing to cold approach folks for business meetings or at business events...yet...it is completely different (or well, it is for me anyway) to do so for rather personal reasons. although the staff member wasn't successful with the tattooed patron with the nose piercing, i gotta give them props for giving it a shot....and doing it in such a respectful way.

notice how i've been very gender neutral during this whole thing? definitely on purpose. i'm trying to relay the experience of the day but still be very respectful.

anyway, as i made through my early dinner....working away on my presentation deck....i'm was thinking that i may keep trying out my luck and see if i can grab a seat on a regular basis.


i really like it here. the design aesthetic appeals to me..... there is a lot of good productive energy flowing through the place.....the folks are friendly.....there are good eats.....and of course, there is that mexicali hot chocolate.


The Summit SF, 780 Valencia San Francisco @ 19th, +1 415-861-5330, http://www.thesummit-sf.com/menu.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

egg and cress


i was going through some older pics and realized that i never posted these pics of a lovely egg and sandwich i made a few weeks ago for lunch. super easy.....just some hard boiled marin sun farms eggs, watercress from marin roots farm, japanese mayo, ground chilies, salt, and acme bread.

hope you enjoy my eggy porn pics......











Monday, April 25, 2011

custard, bread, and butter

before i hit up my whiskey class at the ferry building on saturday, i dropped by to say "hey!" to the hapa ramen folks. i found out from susanna that they still had some of their custard that they made as an easter holiday special. while i was tempted by their savory bread pudding made with victor's first house cured guinciale, i thought a 3-4 portion serving was a wee bit too big for me and didn't want to waste any of it. if i was going to a larger easter event, then i would have bought that to share. if it shows up at a future pop up...then i'll definitely get it. yet, alas, the sesame caramel pourable custard seemed more aligned with my predictable eating habits over the next few days. admittedly, i've been popping spoonfuls of it or dipping stuff into its tasty yumminess since saturday. yet this morning, i decided to make a simple but supremely decadent breakfast with it. how simple? just some leftover acme baguette, straus butter, and the hapa ramen pourable custard....warmed up in ramekins.

i think my ....quite frankly....sensual pics..... speak for themselves.
















see what i mean?

was it good for you? well, it was even better for me.

xxxooo.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

happy easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

my social awkwardness


there was a bit of a change in my saturday morning routine today. instead of heading to the farmers market at the ferry building, i decided to have a hearty breakfast at otd on bush street. i'll be heading to the chaos that is the saturday ferry building later this afternoon to attend a whiskey class.

those that know me and have watched me nurse my adult beverages with a flaming red face....or fall asleep on tables/counters due to minute sips of liquor....please don't laugh, kay. pretty please? i do enjoy the taste of whiskey (well, specifically bourbon and rye whiskey so far)....but alas...i don't have the alcohol tolerance to drink substantial amounts of it....which makes the learning curve a slow one. this class seemed perfect...i'm hoping that it will help me identify potential other kinds of whiskeys i may like. yet, it also means that i need to load up on food before i go. how not fun would it be to fall asleep in class?

hence, why i found myself at otd on bush street this morning. as i made my way through my tea and buttered sugared mini baguette.....


i was wondering how the food will change. grace nguyen, the chef de cuisine, is moving to an exec chef position with asian box. for more info, please read mr. luccesi's column about it here. i've written about ms. nguyen's food before....and the respect i have for her based on the food alone. although i don't know her personally, i have a feeling that she will continue to create lovely food no matter where she is at. oddly, enough, while i was thinking about this.....in walks mr charles phan himself.

talk about a celebrity moment. holy shit.

i really wasn't all that excited when i was within arm length distance of mr jake gyllenhaal in new york last fall... but i was super excited this morning when i looked up from taking a pic of my breakfast of banh cuon to see mr. charles phan.



it really is all about context and what we are passionate about.

i suppose it is really ballsy or really clueless to take pictures of OTD's food in front of the chef/owner of the OTD/Slanted Door/The Moss Room empire.

in my defense, i had no idea he was there until i saw someone looking at me taking pics in the my periphery and realized it was mr. phan. (um, hi? i love your food? i hope you don't see this as being disrespectful because it is definitely not my intention). heck, i usually don't even think about it when i take food pics at OTD. i'm usually in my zone and oblivious to the surroundings and the staff just usually lets me do my anti-social thing. to be honest, if i realized he was there, i wouldn't have taken the pictures....i'm not one that really wants to draw the attention of chefs....and taking pics of their food right under their nose is definitely a way to draw their attention.

yes. this is a rather contrary and odd characteristic of mine.

i may love your food but it is unlikely that i'm going to approach you about it. this is a rather odd characteristic that a certain homie chef takes great personal wicked pleasure in exploiting at times....he rather enjoys seeing me scamper away as quickly as possible when i see a rather infamous/famous chef approaching while i am talking to him. it isn't like said chefs want to talk to me. they want to talk to him. why would they want to know who i am? i am not in the industry. hell, i wouldn't have introduced myself to the homie if i hadn't received quite a few guilt n' scolding laden tweets about introducing myself almost a year ago. if he is reading this..."yes dude, i'm glad that i did....i wouldn't want to have missed the chance to get to know you and the other guys"....i guess....honestly...it is all about my social awkwardness.

lets face it. i'm really socially awkward in non-work situations. at work, i can do the business socializing thing...probably because i'm telling myself that it isn't really "me" and this is something i HAVE to do for work. yet, in personal settings, i usually freeze up or get really awkward. hell, there have been times when i've seen jake godby at humphry slocombe or even at a blue bottle event when he was doing a special dessert.... when i've just wanted to blurt out "i really love your ice cream. for reals." and then run out the door...but i don't. because there is a part of me that thinks if i do that, i may never go into humphry slocombe again from the embarrassment.

instead, i just have a flickr shrine to his ice cream.

i should probably work on my social awkwardness.

so no surprises that i walked out of OTD without saying a peep to mr. phan about how much i love the food at his places.

sigh.

well, i better get ready to head to class.....oh.....the irony of me going to a social class and being socially awkward is not lost on me btw.

until later....

xxxooo

Friday, April 22, 2011

how do you want it?

despite having some relatively more expensive expenditures recently.....i really don't eat out like this on a regular basis. april is a month filled with many birthdays which may provide some insight into some of my recent visits and a few upcoming ones. in between celebratory dinners and such, my meals are primarily simple ones at home....consisting mostly of veggies, lentils, eggs, bread, dairy, pasta, and grains. there is always a weekly treat of some sort....either an ingredient i get to play with from the market....or jam/conserve/sweet from the likes of tell tale preserve, recchiuti, or june taylor....or perhaps some charcuterie or nduja from boccalone. quite often though, my meals are about what i can scrounge around in my kitchen for.

a perfect example of this is a rather random soup that i made earlier this week that i suppose i could call a veggie + grain soup....which actually doesn't sound very appetizing...but i think it looks and tastes a lot better than it sounds.

it all started when i looked into my fridge one morning after a bunch of meetings and wanted to put a pot of soup to simmer on the stove while i was working. i also didn't want to go out. i also wanted it to be a soup that i could modify throughout the week with "add ons" to create new flavors and textures.

i do this sort of thing a lot.

i think about and plan for making something that i can use and eat as a base and then modify it later to how i want it later. in my kitchen....it is all about how i want it.



so with those goals in mind, i grabbed a bundle of green garlic and a bundle of carrots while taking note that i still had some braised kale and blanched cabbage in my fridge as well. i often have braised greens in my fridge to add to soups, stir fries, or as sides with a dipping sauce (soy or nuoc mam based). i figured that i could make a soup with the green garlic and carrots for certain.....and then see what else i could come up with on the fly as i was cooking.

so as i sauteed the green garlic and then the carrots with some extra virgin olive oil, dried chilies from tierra vegetables, dried sage (that i dried at home...it is so easy and you know how old it is when you do it yourself), and dried a bay leaf (same thing as the sage)...


i realized after looking through my pantry that i could add some orange lentils to bring some body (and protein) to the soup, i also had about a tablespoon of some bouillon paste (don't hate) so i added that...



....and a bunch of water.....then i realized that i could make things chewy and substantial by adding a couple of different kind of grains.......




then i added the grains, stirred it a bit, and waited for it to get to a rolling boil....turned it down....covered the pot with a lid so that there was still a tiny space for the steam to escape....and went back to work for a while.....

checking on the soup about twice.....



i knew it was "ready" when the grains were cooked through.....


then i reheated some of the leftover braised kale and blanched cabbage i had in the fridge as my "add on"...





it was just perfect for what i needed. it makes for a very hearty and filling meal. pretty simple too. i made enough so that i filled a few mason jars (once the soup had completely cooled) and have been having leftovers with different "add ons" (i.e., different veggies, cheese, ground chilies, etc. etc.). since. it is nice when one of the random meals works out nicely.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

eradicate those before sunrise blues


as i was typing furiously away on keyboard around 5ish am this morning before the slew of meetings began, there were a few parallel thoughts running in the back of my mind. a few thoughts were rather familiar.....things like "i am not a baker. i am not a stock broker. i'm not a cook prepping for a shift at farmers market" made their presence known. those are all the sort of roles where it makes sense to be awake well before sunrise.

personally, i'd rather work through the day, evening, and until 2am-ish and then crash really hard instead of waking up and be work worthy by 5ish....or well before sunrise. i think it is because when i know i have to get up so early, my sleep becomes very restless.....waking up at intervals because i don't want to be late for a specific meeting....or know that i have to be truly awake for it.

on the brighter side of things, i suppose the flurry of activity that early is one way to keep the blues at bay........



i've accepted that quiet sadness will be my companion for a while.

such is life.

as i was working, participating in conference calls, etc., i tried to think about what my "reward" would be once the work day was done. sometimes it are the seemingly small rewards that allow days to go by a bit faster. sometimes reminders of "having a job in this economy is a good thing"....isn't enough. it is a difference between subsisting and living. i told myself that if i can get things wrapped up in time, i could have a cheeseburger from 4505 meats at the thursday farmers market at the sf ferry building today.

it was the ideal motivator. i've been craving a burger for over a week. yet, i haven't succumbed to the craving because the nearest place to me that has a decent burger is in the heart of darkness. i do try to avoid going into the marina as much as possible. i just don't like it. if i must go...i usually drag someone else kicking and screaming with me as it is one of the few situations where i'd rather suffer the natives with someone else.

i fully realize that this says a lot about my personality....that i'd rather walk by myself through gang territory, or be next to the projects, or be on the very edge of crackville or politely nod to working girls as i pass by them.....to have food..... rather than to go into the marina.

to be fair, i must admit that one of the last times i was in the marina with the heart sister and AC (because of a desire to have cream puffs from pacific puffs), we all got a huge kick of watching one of the good-natured and admittedly handsome owners deftly respond to the extremely focused attention of two female customers. these were "the ladies who lunch" type. we were politely evil in our amusement as we waited until after we finished our cream puffs and walked well out of the store before we shared our laughter and guffaws. i remember thinking "holy shit! that is what they mean by the term "cougar!"....for reals. i kind of thought they were like....i don't know....some kind of urban myth blown way out of proportion....i've never actually seen one before. to protect the not-so-innocent, one of us said aloud "if she could have eaten him up right there, she would have." gotta love the entertainment value of native predators sometimes.

but alas, since i would be seeking to address my burger craving by myself, and was not in the mood for marina natives, i was very fortunate that it was farmers market day at the ferry building. yes, i realize the ferry building isn't exactly in the hood. however, from my perspective....there is a difference between those that have/make money and those who are gaudily ostentatious (ahem, you have to admit....that is the marina...which i rather hilarious...since they are on landfill). plus, i just really like the food that appears at the ferry building. thankfully, i was able to get on muni and make it to the 4505 meats stand about 15 minutes before they closed.

because it was well after the typical lunch crowd time, there wasn't a huge line and my order came up pretty quickly.

sigh.

a nice juicy burger. lovely + messy + sloppy in all the good ways a burger should be.



it totally hit the spot. my craving was abated. the before sunrise blues eradicated. 4505 meats really know how to do burgers.....that is for certain. kind of like magic.

you know, if 4505 meats had their stand in the marina, i'd go.alone even. but i'm glad i don't have to.