Sunday, May 29, 2011

foragesf's wild food walk

yesterday when the rain was coming down, i was looking outside my window....muttering to myself "oh hell no am i going to be out in that kind of weather for a foraging walk". despite the appeal of wanting to learn more about local edible plants on one of foragesf's wild food walks, the thought of being cold and wet was supremely unappealing. i even went as far to mention this on twitter.

then i get a response from the sassy ms.tablehopper indicating that she was planning on attending the walk and strongly suggested that i wear proper gear and still attend. my knowing that she was going to be there too was motivation enough for me to go digging around my closet for something to wear in the rain. i found an old coat that i hadn't worn...in like...8 years...that would work, my $10 rain boots i bought during an epically long rainy season we had a long time ago, as well as a beaten up sf giants ball cap that i bought for myself as a bday present...back in the day when the park first opened. so yeah, i changed my mind about not attending and found the appropriate gear.

thankfully though, when this morning came....it was bright and sunny. i almost tweeted "i guess i don't need my rain gear after all" but didn't....as i didn't want to jinx it. yeah, for such a left-brained driven person i have been known to have superstitious moments. so it was bright and sunny when i headed out to the meeting place of the forage sf walk. i had forgotten that carnaval is happening...and since quite a few lines run through the mission, there were some muni delays happening. as a result, i grabbed a cab instead of taking muni as i didn't want to be late for the class/walk. since i took a cab, i was a wee bit early so i found a local cafe and just hung out for a bit until the class started....

and then headed over to the meeting point at the appropriate time. i was looking forward to the walk as well as having a chance to chat with ms. tablehopper.

once the walk/class started, our instructor was kevin feinstein of feralkevin. he was a very enthusiastic instructor who was like a non-stop running database of information about plant families, their nutritional aspects, various ways to prepare different plants, and what he thought was tasty.

he covered plants such as miner's lettuce.....

which i have had before and it is quite yummy. he indicated that every part is edible and it doesn't get bitter. while it is typically eaten raw, they can be cooked as well. he suggested that folks could try the older ones cooked. he also mentioned that a typical rule is never take more than 1/3 of a plant and never pull as you may pull the root up....instead....take what you are harvesting by cutting it.

he also showed us chickweed .....
which can be found with miner's lettuce and you can also identify by the hairs running down on one side.

the poison hemlock....


which is poisonous. i think he spent time on this because where one finds things like minor's lettuce and chickweed, one also finds poison hemlock. key things to look for are how the leaves look like carrot tops and there are purple stains on the stalks.

he also covered nasturtium....


which i have also had before and i do enjoy the peppery flavor.

wild oats...
which seems there is some nugget of truth to the"sowing your wild oats" saying.

wild radish where the flowers are often used and the pods....

the pod is supremely yummy. just yummy.
tasting the wild radish pod was just one highlight of the walk. the other key highlights included chatting with ms. tablehopper as well as watching our instructor totally nerd-out. i must admit that i had a good time just watching him totally be passionate and nerd out while talking about the plants. it is pretty obvious that he loves what he does. if you have a chance to take one of his classes/walks, i recommend that you do so.

the walk ended about the time when he was talking about ginko.....
i have so many pages of notes....there are also a few other plants he covered that i haven't mentioned....but i really think the true benefit comes from attending....as you get the rapid fire (which i prefer) running commentary as well.

admittedly, when i signed up for the class, i did have a teeny tiny bit of apprehension that the instructor was going to be one of those uber boho hippie types that would talk about saving the planet through local foraging and living in a tent or something. while i can totally respect those folks beliefs, i just didn't want to listen to one for two hours. so hence, i was very relieved when i realized our instructor was an intense uber plant nerd who also seemed to have a passion for making it into tasty food as well. it was rather endearing. i have a soft spot for smart people. btw, i mean this all in the utmost respectful way....i say this as the last thing i need is for someone's jealous significant other to try to track me down through the world wide interwebs.



forage sf - http://foragesf.com/ forage sf -wild food walks page - http://foragesf.com/wild-food-walks/ kevin feinstein's page - http://feralkevin.com/ - and youtube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/feralkevin#p/u/37/AG_vngO5fGY

Saturday, May 28, 2011

stories in melody


i think i'm in a wee bit of recovery at the moment. this may partially explain why i have been having such a craving for matzo ball soup. i just left my place to grab some as takeaway from miller's again.


last night, i decided to try a "new to me" taqueria in the mission and definitely felt some ill effects this morning. so it was good to have something a bit mellow in my tummy right now. i didn't do my usual noshing thing at the ferry building this morning. i pretty much stuck to my cappuccino from blue bottle.....


a few strawberries from dirty girl (that i had bought earlier but was just eating them in line)....as well as my sample taste of jesse/beer and nosh/sodacraft's smoked strawberry vanilla bean soda. he was sharing the stand with hapa ramen today. if my stomach had been up for it, i would have slurped some ramen from hapa ramen, had a lot more of the soda as well as a scoop of the strawberry bourbon ice cream from humprhy slocombe that jesse/beer and nosh/sodacraft had on hand to make floats with his fermented sodas.

but alas, felled by a burrito.

one of the reasons why i was in the mission last night was because i stopped into the red poppy house to hear louis play in his band, lou lou and the gypsy jivers....

as i have mentioned before, louis is a former engineer, but always....always...been a musician....and now he pursues this passion full time through teaching, writing music, and playing gigs. i ended up walking through the entrance of the red poppy with a snicker since this 11 (ish? maybe) year old boy who was standing with his parents decided that he wanted to look at me for a while, before breaking into a not-so-shy-smile, and then said "hi".

given his age...which seemed to be 11 going on 30...i wasn't able to be heartless....so i said "hi" back.

just "hi" mind you.

i'm not quite certain what is going on in the universe right now with young'uns deciding that i'm a safe person to test out their game on, but i thought it was cute and was bemused by the rather ballsy maneuver. actually, both his father and i were very bemused by this. i kinda half wondered if he was one of louis' students.

not only have i known CK, his wife, since we were at university....but i kinda feel like i've known louis, an extremely exuberant passionate south african, for a long time as well. yet, i've only heard louis play a handful of times over the years. as i sat in the audience, one of the things that immediately stood out to me...even before he was playing....when he was just talking to the crowd...was how he talks to the crowd EXACTLY the way he talks when he is at home...when he and CK are having folks over for dinner. i had to smile at all of the upbeat energy and warmth coming from him....because it was louis...being louis.

also, the way he speaks so passionately about his music is exactly the way he spoke to me on the phone about it when we were editing the liner notes for the album.

he is...who he is....and he puts himself out there....not only in his interactions with people, at gigs, but also within his music. i find that i must tip my hat to those that write music and those that write about music. i can't even imagine how difficult it must be to write music as i just find it extremely challenging to write about music....and how important it is to our culture and who we are as human beings.

there are many influences within louis' music. as i am not familiar with the gyspy jazz genre, i don't have the background or references to cite. yet, i can say that it is energetic....i can say that when i hear it i can imagine it being almost a different time...and that what i heard that night would not be out of place in new orleans...specifically streaming out of one of the local clubs on frenchman street. i miss new orleans.

i can also describe the scene in the cozy living room like space....with color photographs streaming across the walls.....that was packed with people...listening intently to the sounds....standing by the bar or sitting in one of the well worn wooden chairs or benches. as i sat towards the back, i was able to see how the music impacted different people in the audience. i suppose it is in my nature to observe so i got out my notebook and while listening to the music....i wrote about what i saw in the audience


  • the truly eccentric boho hippie with multiple inches of white hair that almost formed a perfect radius around his face... swaying by the front entrance...well behind the band....moving from foot to foot...clasping his hands together in such joy.
  • the lovers...whose casual yet intimate body language demonstrated a comfortableness that only comes with extensive time and companionship....their bodies turned slightly toward each other...in tune with each other and the music at the same time. one of them...his face scrunched in concentration as if the music was flowing into him....as for his lover....his head was moving in a gentle bobbing....while tapping his foot to the jive.
  • there was one of the red poppy employees...almost hidden by the equipment on the bar....he was literally dancing and spinning behind the bar....feeling the tunes. i remember wishing that one day, i hope to be in the audience to see a community of people doing exactly what that employee was doing while louis plays.
  • the seemingly stern scruffy man with the buddy holly like eyeglass frames, his arms crossed almost defensively, his back resting across the bar....yet, his head was bobbing....deeply....to the music....as if the music was pulling something out of him...despite himself.
  • of course, there was also the pair of ladies that were whooping and hollering....who were very excited about the music. there was also a very large part of me that was irrationally thinking..."i'm glad you are excited but it had better just be about the music. louis is married to my friend who is rather amazing and if i see you make a bee line toward him i may have to get all gangster on your asses. just on principle."

sigh.

yeah.

i know.

i am who i am as well...for better or worse.

Friday, May 27, 2011

beyond replacement

my shift is done for the day.

as the water was shut down in my building this afternoon, i knew i needed to shift my usual friday schedule. so, after my slew of super early morning meetings were complete, i mentally planned out the rest of the day in my head.... a meal + work in a cafe nearby. perhaps miller's east coast deli for a sandwich and soup.....and a new cafe that has opened up on polk street. i decided to not go to my usual spots in the mission because i'll be hitting up the mission later this evening to listen to a friend play at the red house poppy tonight. interestingly enough, this friend is CK's husband, and like CK, is very keen on pursuing his passion. while CK's passion is food and cooking.....her husband's passion is music. as a former engineer, he now pursues his passion for music through gigs and teaching. he is also very passionate about food. there is a not so small part of me that thinks this makes complete sense.

i think that when one has a passion for food, it can be a rather soul-sucking experience to be with someone that is not....or at least doesn't understand your passion for it.

i speak from experience.

i was also thinking about this today, as i made my way through my chicken matzo ball + noodle soup....

i was thinking about how different my life is now. i was reminded of what it was like to be with someone who wasn't passionate about food and had little understanding for mine. the reason why this was so prominent in my mind today as that last night, i took a trip to the outer sunset to hang out with a friend and a "gal's night" that she was having.


i was looking forward to having time to hang out and chat with this friend. no doubt. it was just interesting riding muni because....well....frankly i've been avoiding the sunset...particularly the outer sunset. because once upon a time....in a former life....i lived a married life in the outer sunset....and it had been over 3 years since i put one foot in that neighborhood. it will be 4 years this fall. some loved ones joked that i would never see the likes of the pacific ocean again...having lived next to it for almost 6 years...either in the outer sunset or on the pacifica pier.

i had no idea how i was going to react.

yet, despite the unknowing....it wasn't like i was going to miss out on the opportunity to hang out with this friend for her gal's night. i even went kinda crazy in nijiya market buying snacks for it....

and had been looking forward to it for a couple of weeks.

as i rode muni into the outer sunset, i could feel myself mentally doing some self poking....mentally muttering things like "so, hey! how's it going? any weird vibes or sadness we need to deal with?" interestingly enough, there weren't any. really and truly.

then there was the moment of questioning...."does this make me a horrible person? you know....that there isn't?"

as i dug into my brisket sandwich today, i pondered this further.



it is odd, but not in a bad way, that there is no longer a need for "replacement memories". i think those of you, who like myself, have sought out different and positive experience to help offset lingering sadness after important relationships have ended...know exactly what i am talking about.

so i was rather thrilled when i knocked on the friend's door and was greeted with her typical warmth and vivaciousness. then, shortly after, i found myself enveloped within a comfy couch, completely fascinated a peek at LA Noire (her husband showed me the game....it looks like it is a total engrossing time suck kind of game in a really really good way)....as well as being almost memorized...in almost a disturbing way really...with the HD tv itself. since i haven't lived with a tv.....in well over a decade...i found myself just looking at screen picture quality in awe. it also reminded me that is still a good idea for me to not have a game console and tv in my place or else i doubt i would be able to get very much work done. my current job and the hours i put in....would be impacted drastically if i had this on hand. video games are definitely a vice of mine. back in the day, i had been known to play until the wee hours of the morning....well pass my ass being completely numb....but not caring because i was too into the game. this is why i've shied away from having a console .....and seeing the game quality and screen quality of what is available now just reinforced that i should stay away from having one in my abode. not because i don't like it...but because i would like it too much.

after the friend's husband left and it became a gal's night, i had a good time hanging out with the ladies there...snacking, chatting, and relaxing. then as we wrapped up the evening and i rode muni a ways with one of the other ladies that attended the gal's night. that too, was a lovely conversation as well.

so as i finished up my sandwich and such at miller's today, i was thinking how glad i was that hanging out could just be hanging out. how it wasn't necessary to have a nice memory to battle other not so great ones. it was just a really nice time and memory on its own. it feels good to be beyond the need for replacement memories in regards to the outer sunset.

maybe i'll finally hit up outerlands.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

catching up with CK at hawker fare


my morning meetings ended earlier than usual. as a result, i thought i'd take a peaceful few minutes and sip on my hot chocolate....and nosh on one of tell tale preserve co's quite lovely coffee bourbon buns.


yes, folks, they are back in rotation.


i have a confession though. i originally picked up some buns (1 for me 3 for CK) from the tell tale preserve co. stand on tuesday so that i could give them to CK during our lunch on wed. yet, i forgot the buns at home. i didn't realize that i forgot them until i was about to enter BART at embarcadero station. gawddamit! while there wasn't enough time to go home and get them......the embarcadero station is right next to the ferry building....so i was able to pop into the ferry building to grab some nduja instead from boccolone.

there wasn't any "occasion" or anything like that. i think those that know me personally, know that i just like to spontaneously show up with foodstuff. oftentimes, if i've tried something that i like quite a bit...and i know certain loved ones don't have immediate access to it or have time to visit a certain place, i'll bring it with me for them to try.

for example, i have completely lost count of how many bags of blue bottle coffee i have distributed as gifts to people across the globe...because...well, it is a lot. not to mention how many bags of 4505 meats chicharrones i've distributed to friends in the bay area and in the US. i've distributed many 'o many bags of those as well. also, it seems natural to show up with adult beverages for homies that are doing a pop up or something like that...something for them to enjoy and have a respite toward the end of service.

btw....when i do this, i'm not expecting anything in exchange/return. those that have known me for years and years are rather used to this quirky thing of mine. the reason why i do it is very simple. if i come across something and think "i bet so-and-so would like this" and i get it. that's about as complicated as it gets.

anyway, i was looking forward to having a casual lunch meal with CK. we decided that we were going to try hawker fare....which...i think is technically still in the soft launch phase. the last time CK + i met up, it was for coi. anytime you go to some place like coi...there is going to be a lot of mutual attention placed solely on the food and technique. i'm still thinking about that coi meal now. sigh. yet, there are times when it is nice to have a casual meal when it is more about connecting and catching up with your friend ....and good food underscores that experience. it is times like these that i remind myself that having work meetings around 6am-ish is a worthy trade off if it means that i have the flexibility to meet a loved one and catch up with them over lunch.

when CK and i arrived at hawker fare, we were quickly seated. we each ordered thai iced tea...

and split everything which included the siamese peanuts....

which i liked these quite a bit. they were seasoned with shrimp paste, chili flakes, and fennel. we also had the green papaya salad....


and split two "rice bowls".....one that was the issan sausage rice bowl with an fried egg as an "add on".....

and we split the pork belly rice bowl which i didn't take a picture of. overall, as hawker fare are just starting out...literally....i thought the food was hearty and good. the combinations are interesting. btw, i mean interesting in a good way. also, i don't know if they'll keep certain accents like the deep friend herbs as you can see in the issan rice bowl since it wasn't listed on the menu itself....but i liked accents like that....as it provided complementary levels of flavor and texture. it was good to see that the place was hoppin as well. i hope it continues as i would definitely like to go back.


hawker fare - 2300 Webster St in Oakland, http://www.hawkerfare.com/

Monday, May 23, 2011

when it is ready

hmmmm. i'm finishing up a typical meal at home at the moment.


it is relatively simple with some sardines (canned w/tomato) sauteed with green garlic, spring onions, dried chilies, and nuoc mam.....this time on a bed of braised kale (braised with green garlic as well)....eggs (marin sun farms) with nuoc mam + ground red chili.


the pics you see in this posting was from earlier this week. yet, it is one of my common quick meals that i'll make for myself when i am in the mood for something a bit heartier. yes, to me this is pretty hearty for a meal at home. most of my meals at home are focused upon the amazing produce i am fortunate to have access to...pairing them with lentils, eggs, grains, pasta, or bread. i must also not forget the dairy...i do love my butter, yogurt, and cheese. as a result, hearty at home does not automatically equate to being meat heavy. for me, this is a way to balance out the meals i may eat that are a wee bit more rich (hello my almost weekly treat of something delicious from 4505 meats).

as i was making my way through my early dinner this evening, i was recalling a lunch i had with a friend earlier today. i met him downtown. i wanted to just check-in with him to see how he is doing because he just recently exited a relationship. i know that when B + i ended those years ago, i was glad to have loved ones and friends around me that reached out and made an effort...as i strove to create a new level of normalcy. it is a challenge. from my perspective, there isn't some magic elixer or balm that makes it all better....but sometimes, it was just nice that a friend showed that they cared.

we were speaking of this blog and such...and i mentioned how much it has helped me over the past few years....to have an outlet where i could celebrate what i am passionate about. maybe he'll consider something similar. while he isn't a published professional writer, he is a very talented writer. very. i know a few writers that would seriously consider murder in exchange to have a smidgen of his talent. perhaps he will leverage this time and channel it into his writing. perhaps he won't.

as always, the choice is his and his alone on what he decides to do with that talent.

if you notice that i haven't really relayed his side of the conversation....it is because i am trying to respect his privacy. it isn't because i have forgotten what he said. the privacy line is something i'm very aware of in this blog. i try to remain true to what is bouncing around in my mind....and true to my attempts to be open....while also ensuring that i don't hurt others.

at some point during the conversation, the conversation touched upon sadness. i relayed how from my perspective, after a loss....there is a sense of sadness that lingers.....and that the sadness will leave when it is ready. you can't make it go away. you can't tell it to hurry up. it will leave when it is ready to do so.

so now, as i sit here, making my way through my early dinner....thinking over the lunch earlier today....i recall how a lingering sadness was my companion for a while when B + i ended after seven years together..... and i know, unfortunately, a similar sadness now.

i think we show who we are during times like these....whether it be intense challenges to which i prefer to tenaciously confront head-on with a speedy stride.....or whether it be to not close myself off from the world because of being hurt. badly hurt.

i realize now...interestingly enough...that at some of the most significant moments of emotional trial and sadness...i walked away from these experiences......deciding and pushing myself to become more open instead of more closed. the easy way would have been to be more closed. yet, i made a conscious decision to not take the easy way....which isn't really surprising. since when have i ever taken the easy way? the beginning of this blog over three years ago is just one example. i also know that it isn't a coincidence that i'm pushing myself to work on being less socially awkward and egad, actually talk to people in not-work related settings these days either.

it probably has to do with confidence and relativity.

once the heart has been broken in ways that you thought you could avoid and feared the most....everything else emotional pain wise...is relatively small in comparison. also, the confidence came when i realized that despite everything...i was still me....that it didn't damage me to the point of nonrecognition.

this time though, i've made a quiet truce with my sadness. i know it is there. it knows it is there. it will leave when it is ready to leave.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

bonne nuit, mon cheri

this has been a truly deliciously lazy day.


i did zero "work".

i cooked. i ate. i slept. i took pictures. i wrote. i cooked some more.

it was quite nice.

i have a pot of veggie stock cooling on the stove. my collection of scraps and leftover cuttings of various produce had reached a critical mass in my freezer and i thought it was appropriate to make the stock of the kale stems, leek tops, carrot tops, etc. etc. my place smells cozy....and the street noise is beginning to wane....as folks are likely wrapping up their weekends and getting ready to approach the typical work week. i'm looking forward to cooking some lentils in this stock...and perhaps making a soup with it this week as well.

before anyone things that i've become so incredibly virtuous....i've always squirreled away veggie scraps to make stock...it appeals to my sense of practicality. also, as a way to balance out my making veggie stock, i'm actually noshing on left over clafoutis that i made earlier this week. well, it is sort of a balance. this to....was a result of my sense of practicality.

earlier in the week, i decided that i wanted to de-pitt the last of a batch of cherries i had bought. i was about to make another compote with honey and a spirit...but then as i looked at the cherries, i decided that i should do something different.

then, i'm not certain why, but then i thought..."hey, what about a clafoutis?" so i went into the authentic french savuer cookbook that i have and found their very simple recipe for clafoutis and realized that i had what i needed to make a version of it.


i say a "version" of it....because i wasn't about to go to the store to buy ingredients for this dish right at that moment. if i use a recipe, i generally use it as a guideline....especially if i am not cooking for guests. i allow myself a lot more flexibility with on the fly experimentation if i'm not cooking for guests. i have a feeling that some of my loved ones with french ancestry will be cringing at my decisions for making the clafoutis. in my defense, i pretty much just wanted to make this with what i had on hand...which was milk (nonfat....yes, i know...i know), eggs, sugar, vanilla, and a spanish sherry (instead of kirsch). i also do not have confectioner's sugar in my pantry at this time. nor did i have the right kind of baking dish for it. also.....while i was putting in the vanilla, i also decided on the fly to add almond extract....just to see how it would turn out.





are the french folks cringing yet? probably.


yet, despite my on-the-fly modifications....it was all surprisingly simple.

as i made this rather humble bastardy version of clafoutis, i could see why things like full fat milk would have made the consistency more silky and how the kirsch would underscore and bring out the flavors of the cherries even more. also, because i used the baking dish that i did....i had to cook it for much longer than the 30 minutes...which was perfectly ok.

it is one of the things i do love about cooking....in that there are actually quite a few ways to get to one's end goal....and while there may be a recipe or a "plan" i expect to modify how i do things...in response to what the food is telling me....or what i need from the food....or what it needs from me.


quite a bit like life itself isn't it?


when it was all done....it was still tasty.


perhaps i'll make this dish again, when i have all of the "right" ingredients.....or perhaps when i feel like it. yet, i'm not going to stop myself from not trying something just because i don't have all of the "right" ingredients at my fingertips. if i didn't give it a shot...i wouldn't be enjoying a slice of it right now....as i type out these words....and that would have been an unrealized missed opportunity.

i'd rather know...and make mistakes along the way....then not know at all.

well, i think it is time for me to put away my cooled stock and get ready for the end of the evening.

bonne nuit, mon cheri.

bonjour mon cheri


i slept in quite deeply this morning.


i suppose.....technically....by the time i wandered into my kitchen...it was still morning. technically.

i haven't slept in and lazed around in bed like that for ages and ages. it also made me feel a bit fuzzy....so i slowly puttered around my kitchen, putting on some water for my tea....and thinking about what i would be snacking on this morning. as i scanned my kitchen counter, my eyes rested upon some cherries i bought at yesterday's farmers market at the ferry building.

waking up to the taste of fresh delicious cherries seemed like just the thing to underscore a rather decadent and rare sleep in day.

of course, i also had to take pictures as well.


i do adore cherries and the season is so brief here. as i was taking the pics....i had a feeling that my adoration would definitely come through.

i'm such a food nerd....i love taking pics of produce.


correction....i love taking pictures of produce fresh from the farmers market....when i am excited that i am about to eat it..or about to cook or make a dish with it.

while i was popping the the yummy cherries into my mouth...relishing the sweet and slightly tart flavors....and looking out my kitchen window...waiting for my water to warm up for my morning tea....i was thinking about the farmers market.

i don't see the farmers market at the ferry building in the same way anymore. this isn't a bad thing. it is just different. i'll probably be processing this for a while...until i can find the words to accurately and concisely describe what it is that is so different. i suppose that "guest spot" helping out in the hapa ramen stand is impacting me in ways that extend well beyond that one day.

for example, last week, while i was at a stand to buy some veggies, i thought it would be rude to not say hi to a particular person since we met and talked for a few moments while i was doing my "guest stint" at hapa ramen. normally, i don't say many things to the vendors as i'm antisocial like that.

i am always nice and polite though. always. but i don't chit chat.

yet, in this case, i felt rude to not acknowledge that i knew who they were and they seemed nice....so i said hi and then talked about how we met the former week at the hapa ramen stand as i was picking out veggies.

then to my absolute horror, they comped my veggies.

i kind of stood there a bit stupefied.

those that know me and that have read me on this blog know this is one of the reasons why i prefer to remain anonymous. i was horrified because i was wondering if they thought that the reason why i did the chit chat was because i wanted free stuff....which wasn't my intention at all. i thought i was being not rude and friendly.

i did not say anything because i wanted free stuff.

then i realized that they shifted their attention to an extremely well known chef who was picking up their order (i'm guessing for one of his well known restaurants).

yet, me and my awkward social self shifted from one foot to another....and i felt compelled to blurt out "but i don't work at the market. i was just helping out that day." in other words, "i'm-not-industry-and-don't-want-to-obtain-these-freebies-under-false-pretenses."

there are times when my morals outweigh my social awkwardness and this was one of them. there was no way that i was going to indirectly and unintentionally imply that i was industry. no freakin way. oh hell no.

i think they (both the vendor and the chef) were a bit bemused by the whole thing.

the vendor said, "really, it is ok. don't worry about it."

so i said, "well, thank you" and then left.

now, i've gotten comped veggies before....but that was different....that was as a regular customer at places and if they feel like throwing in a bundle or something new that they are trying to get out there, i don't think twice about it. it was different this time though. i didn't want them to think that i had alternative motives for chatting....just like i don't like food folks knowing that i blog...because i don't want them to think i'm doing some version of blackmail...or expect free handouts/preferential treatment....which is rather a notorious behavior for some folks that discuss food via social media.

i can almost see the eyeball rolling of certain homies....who have heard me discuss this before...and have countered with "you don't give off that vibe"....and my response to that is me stamping my foot like a stubborn kid and saying "BUT STILL!"

sooooo.....when i went to the farmers market yesterday, not only did i pick up these delicious cherries i'm making my way through this morning...i also went back to that same vendor. things were slightly busier and this time...i waited until i paid for all of my veggies....and then they handed me back my change before i brought up that we had met before. to be fair to the vendor, i had my contacts in yesterday and wasn't wearing sunglasses when speaking to them....which definitely made me look different. then they tried to give me back some money or offered up some other veggies but by these point i was well out of arms reach....i said "no, no, no,... i just wanted to say hi....this is why i waited until after i paid until i said something. all i really wanted was to say hi" with a grin. then we both laughed and they said that they were going to "tell on me" to a certain homie...which just made both of us laugh some more as i waved good bye.

this made me feel better. if i talk to you...it is because i'm actually and sincerely interested in talking with you...not because i want you to give me something.

this is one unexpected outcome of working in the hapa ramen stand a couple of weeks ago. the other came in while i was eating my breakfast of a cheddar brat from 4505 meats at the market yesterday......


and just watching the food stalls at the market. while before, i would have said that i "saw" them as people....but i suppose it is a different sort of "seeing". i don't pretend to know what it is like to live that life....to know what it is like...day after day....or to see it from their "inside" everyday perspective.

i just noticed that i see them differently than i did before.

there were things i noticed yesterday that i would not have noticed before. like....how certain industry folks come visit through makeshift side "entrances"...and how prevalent that really is....with food swapping, networking, visiting.....it is like hiding in plain sight.... or how there are the quick moments where they try to eat (or in some cases scarf) fellow vendors' food in between helping out with the clients....or how many of them are actually watching what is going on outside of their tent during a slower moment...even when at first glance.....they act like they aren't.

i suppose it is the beginning of more of an awareness of what is happening at the market......seemingly hiding in plain sight...or just noticing things i may not have even thought about noticing before.

Monday, May 16, 2011

taken care of


i'm not gonna lie. it wasn't a great today today. the day started off pretty crappy about 6:30 and maintained a high level of crappiness. there are some things going down at work (but isn't there always?) that could have been different and better. i knew by the time 5ish came around, i was ready to leave my place and work for the day.

the heart sister + AC weren't able to come into the city because they weren't able to get a sitter....so i planned to attend a lecture that i had obtained a ticket for over a month ago. when i obtained the ticket, i didn't realize that hapa ramen would have a pop up on the same day. yet, if AC and the heart sister were going to come to the city, i would...of course....see them instead. they were going to see if they could come into the city to attend the latest hapa ramen pop up at bar tartine. AC, in particular, had mentioned earlier that he really wanted to attend a hapa ramen pop up....likely because i have written about them so much in this blog and because his wife, my heart sister, enjoyed their food during our last visit. but alas, they weren't able to come...so i thought i would go ahead and attend the lecture.

yet, when i was on muni, i made a last minute decision to not attend the lecture and go to the hapa ramen pop up by myself.

why?

it really came down to a simple question.

what will make me feel better after an exceedingly trying day? attending a lecture related to sustainable business practices? or eating food from hapa ramen?

now when i look back on this...i wonder why there was even a decision process?

i think the fact that there was even a decision process tells you a lot dear reader about how out of sorts i was at the end of the day.

so instead of attending a lecture, i showed up at the hapa ramen pop up at bar tartine.....

that is pretty much the only decent pic that came out of the night. i was totally off my pic taking game. the food was delicious as always. while i love the slow cooked egg with the ramen....which i've eaten many o' many times at other events....it brings the broth to another dimension as well as coats the noodles.....yet, this evening they were showcasing the egg differently as part of the prix fixe menu.

i tasted the slow cooked pasture raised egg with braised mushrooms and spiced yogurt. it was an incredibly sensual dish. this was also a dish that was a combination of technique, ingredients, textures, and flavors...that was both familiar (eggs + mushrooms) yet unique (the hint of spice with the subtle tang of the yogurt). it was deceptively simple. yet, not simple because the egg while listed on the menu as slow cooked....i suspect was cooked using sous vide technique and the braised mushrooms were minced. so when delving into this dish with your spoon....watching the soft burst of soft custard-like yolk form a soft wave over the mushrooms....each delicious taste was not the same. the braised mushrooms minced really allowed for the flavors to really carry further in the mouth and provide an additional succulent support in a refined way. sensual yet refined. sigh. i think if hapa ramen puts this on his menu when he decides to open up his restaurant....i think it will let folks understand how amazing slow cooked eggs can be.....and should be.

btw.....if i find out that someone is going to try to steal dish/idea of showcasing a slow cooked egg this way from the hapa ramen folks.....it will be grounds for me to make an exception to the "do no harm" policy i usually adhere to on this blog. i totally get that eggs, mushrooms, and cream (such as creme fraiche) are not unusual pairings...however, the way they decided to do it this evening is not a usual combo.

fair warning.

also, another fave taste of the evening was susanna's meringue sweet. not only was it delicious (no surprises there)...but when i bit into it....it kind of gushed forth over the tops of my finger tips...and i wasn't about to waste the deliciousness by using a napkin...so i licked it off the fingers. the words that immediately came to mind were "messy and sexy".

i think if i meet a guy that cooks like susanna i'll be in some serious trouble.

anyway, in all semi-seriousness, i must admit that i also felt the full benefits of being homies with the hapa ramen crew this evening. i am not talking about the food btw. they put out great food no matter who it is for. remember...there was a few months when i ate a lot of their food when they had no idea who i was. just another person in line....wanting to eat their yummy food. i've also heard people that talk about their food (and have no idea that i am foodie hunter or that i even know them). what i mean by "full benefits" is that i think because i was by myself this evening, they took it upon themselves to check in quite often with me throughout the time i was there. i was incredibly nice of them to do so and i wasn't expecting this. the place was buzzing and i was perfectly happy with saying "hi" + "bye" with just enjoying the food and playing around with my ipad in between the "hi + bye".

while the food alone was enough to turn around what started off as a crappy day....it was really quite lovely for them to make such i was looked after. so thank you very much my hapa ramen homies, for taking such good care of me this evening.

well, i'm off to bed. i'm going to sleep well tonight.

nite!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

grace and showmanship


yesterday was surreal. many things happened yesterday. there is a strong possibility that i will be writing about my various and varied experiences that occurred yesterday over a series of postings.

yet, i will begin with observations regarding grace and showmanship.

ms. tablehopper provided me with an unexpected opportunity to tag along with her to a private event. this was an event that was many things...filming for an upcoming segment of a local show....a food event.....and a fundraiser for food runners. i take my duties as a tag along pretty seriously. from my perspective, ms. tablehopper was there for work and it was my role to be on hand if she needed anything. not like she needed anything though...and the experience was pretty fascinating.

perhaps the most defining moment, for me, is when the james beard + bon appetite awarded owner of the home took some of us on a spontaneous tour of her garden. during the tour....she tore off leaves of rose geranium and verbena for us to smell...and as i inhaled the lovely and intense fragrance ...i felt something settle inside of me...as if i knew that this was memory that would be embedded within me for some time. the owner was supremely gracious and funny during the tour. remember dear reader...i'm a nobody...so...it is always very fascinating to me to see how folks decide to treat me. personally, i think if i had over 100 people in my house, a camera crew, and such stomping around in my beautiful home...i'd be an uber cranky pants. i was keenly aware the entire time i was there...that this was her home....and was muttering to myself about hoping that other folks were aware of it as well. i can only aspire to one day be that welcoming and gracious about having people i don't know in my personal space...but i'm not going to hold my breath.

then there was the showmanship aspect to the event.

those that know me...or read me...are well aware of how much i dislike being the center of attention. over the years, for my career, i've had to work very diligently on presentation skills....because running around on a stage in front of hundreds of people is something that is necessary for the work i do. most of the time, the folks watching me present have no idea that i have to work so hard at it and i have been fortunate to receive some positive feedback. yet, it doesn't mean i like it. because it doesn't come natural to me...i have to work, work, and work some more at it. so it is from that perspective/frame/lens that i observed some rather famous chefs do a "cook off" for a local upcoming segment of a tv show.

just to be clear....i do not personally know any of the chefs....nor have i met any of them. yet, i know who they are. it was truly rather surreal to be observing dominque crenn (atelier crenn), roland passot (la folie), and russell jackson (lafitte) at this filming event.

i should also probably own up to the fact that i don't own a tv and haven't for like...a couple of decades...so i have not seen things like ms. crenn on iron chef. yet, after yesterday, i totally understand why the producers put her on it.

there are some people that have a presence and charisma....that is almost tangible...you can almost touch it. no, i'm referring to physical attractiveness...although she is beautiful. i'm referring to something else....i've met some drop dead gorgeous people that have all of the charisma of a piece of concrete. i've also met people that look like a gnome and have some rather amazing presence and charisma.

ms. crenn definitely has a compelling charismatic energy. i think everyone knows exactly what i am talking about. she has it....and she knows how to skillfully leverage it. maybe it is because she is french? naw, i've also met/worked with french people that have zero charisma. so, while i was observing ms. crenn with the other chefs during the filming, i could feel myself mentally "tipping my hat' to ms. crenn and the other chefs in respect for being skillful in showmanship.

from my perspective, in general... those skills are not easy to obtain....or hone. i also had a moment to appreciate ms. tablehopper getting right in there and holding her own with some dynamic personalities as well. personally, i find the thought of being filmed for broadcast rather terrifying and the one moment where the camera swung in the general direction i was standing...i could immediately feel myself crouching down to avoid being on film. this wasn't hard. i'm short so it wasn't like i a had to crouch down very much to disappear from the path of the camera. i think one of the judges saw this...and found this amusing. oh well.

again, this is just one of the events that happened yesterday. it was a lovely day and i feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe this event.

until later dear hearts....

xxxooo

btw....if you are wondering about the top picture....there were desserts from william werner (i.e., tell tale preserve co.) at the event. the desserts were truly beautiful. no surprises there.

Friday, May 13, 2011

random moments at the rice paper scissors pop up


i had a bit of a surreal experience this evening. i ran into AB's man at the rice paper scissors pop up.




we've met a couple of times and i've had dinner with them before they officially became a couple. he's in the industry. i thought he was cool before but these days i think he's great....especially because he appreciates AB. he's got good taste in the ladies.

yet, the topic of the blog has never come up.

probably because i usually don't talk about it.

AB, obviously, knows about the blog but i don't know if he knows. then it turned into a further odd moment when AB's man invited me to share his table....with industry. i had already put in my order for the bun bo hue...


and they were waiting for additional people to show up...more industry people....when they invited me. now, i think anyone that reads me usually knows what my MO is when there are industry people around.

i avoid them.

well, i obviously don't avoid the hapa ramen crew or folks like AB, who i have known for a long time. but usually, i scamper in the opposite direction when my foodie hunter sense tells me industry is nearby. quickly. yet, this was one of those weird moments where it would have been absolutely incredibly rude to not accept joining the table. so i just sucked it up and joined the table with my soup. their orders would come later.

i must also confess that i also showed up to the pop up with my own mam ruoc hue (fermented shrimp paste).

this is a pic of the jar i have at home...i didn't bring this jar in the pic...i put a rather large tablespoon into an small empty jar and brought it with me. please ignore how this translates into "fish sauce" on this label. whatever. it is shrimp paste. this is a condiment that i usually enjoy with my bun bo hue...and i was willing to bet that the rice paper scissors folks weren't going to have that on hand....and i didn't feel like asking for it. it is also an ingredient in the bun bo hue stock btw. bun bo hue stock usually is a combo of pork, beef (bones, hock, + meat) with added mam ruoc hue and nuoc mam as accents. yet, i figured it is just easier to bring it with me and would be unreasonable to expect them to have it on hand since they were setting up in a temporary space where they would have to bring everything in. while having mam ruoc hue on hand for bun bo hue....is as typical as having the sriracha and hoisin on the table when you are eating pho in the states....i didn't think most people coming to their pop up tonight would be asking for it.

you can always figure out who is the passionate and curious cook by the questions they ask. AB's man was curious about the paste and took me up on my offer of tasting my bowl of bun bo hue when i added it. see? this is further evidence that he is good people. on the flip side, in general conversations with folks....you can tell who doesn't cook a lot...or doesn't seek out to have an extended archive on tastes, textures, or various building blocks of flavor.

fascinating.

just fascinating.

i did feel a bit like an interloper though. i know how most industry folks feel about "bloggers" and there was only one person that had the potential to know that i am one while the rest did not. so i slurped through my soup as quickly as possible. i asked a couple very polite and innocuous questions of the other people in between the slurps.....mentally deleted any and all statements from the foodie hunter short term memory bank that didn't come from AB's man in between the slurps...dodged some pictures being taken of the industry folks i just happened to be sharing a table with....then said my good bye's to AB's man with a promise to see and eat what he's cooking up soon (which i was always planning to do btw)....and then scampered out....as fast as my cowardly interloper ass could take me.

as i waited for muni to head home, i texted AB to let her know that i ran into her man. i also just kind of shook my head at the experience. i'm pretty certain i wasn't rude...which ...really was the most important thing to me. i definitely did not want to be disrespectful to AB's man.

the whole experience though reminded me what a small town san francisco is sometimes.