Tuesday, July 26, 2011

surreal indirect spotlight

almost midnight and i'm winding down for the evening. i thought i'd write a bit before i grabbed some sleep. i didn't leave my place for any breaks or excursions today. methinks i'm currently in "head down" mode as i seek to get some things done for work. while i didn't take any breaks outside of my place today, i did take a few minutes to make myself a pretty simple lunch. like most meals i make at home, there is a lot of looking through the pantry or at the most recent buys from the farmers markets.

today, it all started with a can of tuna ......

and romaine hearts from star route. then i decided to roast some slices of potatoes from little organic farm with smoked onion salt and golden cayenne...both from tierra vegetables.... as well as some green beans from dirty girl produce. because i was roasting the potatoes and beans...i thought i should also cook a couple of eggs from marin sun farms....because it sounded like a nice combo in my head.

while i was putting everything together and eating my rather random meal.....i was thinking more about a surreal dinner out with friends who happen to be in the food industry recently.

it wasn't surreal because of the food, it was surreal for another reason.

the surreal aspect of the evening reminded me a little of what i felt like when i was GC's plus one at the nyc variety event where he was scheduled to interview a couple of movie stars....and then i unexpectedly found myself within touching distance of said movie stars in a tiny room before the interview started and i almost half wished that i could find an escape hatch away from the glow of the celebrity. i was there because i just had dinner with my friend and his partner and wanted to support GC and have a chance to see him at work....i wasn't there for the movie stars. when i saw a rather famous director have a friendly chat with GC before the interview started, i thought that was cool for GC.....but that doesn't mean that i wanted be anywhere near the line of sight of that director. i'm perfectly happy being the in background.

over the past year i have have been fortunate to meet, become friends with, and care for some really great people who just happen to be in the food industry. i think most folks are aware that i am not in the food industry. my profession is within the technology industry. yet, all of my friends are within all different sorts of fields and industries. i care for all of my friends....relatively new and long time ones...because of who they are as people....i respect their passions...the pursuit of their passions....their sense of drive....and find these folks to be smart, funny, and more than occasionally silly.

so sometimes it is a bit surreal when i see friends interact with folks that are very well known within their particular field or area.

for example, the other night at dinner, all sorts of food industry folks were visiting the table. there were a lot of greetings happening between courses and there seemed to be unusually high level of interest in the table. how do i know this? i know this because this sort of thing doesn't happen when i'm dining out by myself or with friends who aren't in the food industry. for someone such as myself who prefers to not be in the spotlight...even indirect spotlight, it was a bit surreal...and there were times i was wondering would be possible for me to hide....like under the table. i eventually found a way to tune out the attention. i think it helped that i was more than 100% certain i wasn't the reason for the interest in the table and also because i kept returning to the real reason why i was there....i was there to just hang out with people i care about.

Monday, July 25, 2011

chef's night off

hmmmm. what to say about this evening? hmmmmm. hmmmmm. hmmmmm. so many things running through my mind at the moment.

tonight i had a lovely dinner at the "chef's night off" popup put on by evan and sarah rich at radius. susanna and i attended radius before....and were truly taken care of by the "bartender" that evening....which surprisingly turned out to be the owner. so we definitely planned to go back to radius at some point...and the popup event being put on by evan and sarah rich seemed like a perfect opportunity to return to radius. i had enjoyed evan rich's food at coi and the plate he did at a meatpaper event at moma....so i was very interested in seeing what this husband-and-wife team would put together. i'm pretty certain that susanna was also interested in trying their food as well as supporting a friend of hers that was helping out in the kitchen this evening.

richie also decided to join us for the popup this evening as well as vinny. it was nice to formally "meet" vinny as i had seen him working the front of house at various hapa ramen popups at bar tartine as well as seen him a couple of times that i've helped out in the hapa ramen stand...but we hadn't really "met" until this evening. most of the time, folks have no idea that i am foodie hunter ....so it was a wee bit of a surprise that vinny knew. funny how that works out sometimes.

i was definitely looking forward to having a lovely mellow evening with friends this evening.....and the food definitely helped underscore it. the menu was "four courses"....yet, there were also a few small and extra tastes throughout the meal as well. there were a couple of small tastes in the beginning.....including rice crackers seasoned with paprika and lemon.....

and these pepper and cheese croquettes with cilantro.....

our first course which was a chilled corn soup with padron peppers and nasturtium....

this was my favorite course of the evening. i enjoyed the flavors, texture, and color quite a bit. other lovely tastes and dishes that we had tonight included a miso cod with summer stew....

cucumber + melon w/wasabi foam taste.....

the pasta dish that included paperdelle, douglas fir, roasted chicken, and preserved lemon.....

and the meal finished with goat cheese semifreddo, figs, and walnut nougtine (by pastry chef maxime pouvreau).....

sigh. having a lovely mellow meal with friends was a nice way to start off the week. well, it is already well past midnight and i have early morning meetings in a few hours......so alas.....i must grab some sleep as i sense a long work week ahead.

nite all.


to find out other dates for the chef's night off popup visit: http://www.facebook.com/ChefsNightOff

Sunday, July 24, 2011

meet duckie

warning...this posting has absolutely positively nothing to do with food.

i must confess that when i was a neophyte i did a lot of scribbling in notebooks. while most of the scribbles consisted of poems, stories, observations, and such....there were also quite a few drawings of clothes. i wasn't really keen on dressing dolls but i was always keen on textures, colors, patterns, shapes....and would sketch images of clothes with unusual accents....pretending that i was creating clothing for alternative universes, worlds, or races. i've always been a fan of sci-fi and comic books....so that probably had something to do with it. however, sketching clothes was one of those things i never spoke about. it just seemed like such a "girly" thing....and although i possess the XX chromosomes, when i was a kid....oh gawd forbid that i would do anything remotely girly....like actually admit that i liked fashion or sketched clothing.

fast forward almost eons later, and here i am....having no problems reconciling how i can be rather extremely brainy and be also quite interested in fashion. i dress like i write....for me and only for me. sometimes, it really does show. actually, it kinda often shows. i wear some crazy stuff sometimes, especially with color. it all depends on my mood and what i feel like in that moment. sounds familiar? because it is....it is also how i cook as well.

so why am i telling you this dear reader? it is because i've decided to embark on a learning journey and teach myself how to sew. i have sewn some things in the past such as making bags out of scarves and that sort of thing....but i've decided to take my interest in fashion a step further and learn more about how clothes are constructed.

i have zero intention of being a "designer". i'm doing this for me....to learn....and possibility understand more about clothes so that i can do my own tailoring and perhaps rework certain pieces to suit me. i am quite excited about this and am looking forward to learning more about sewing. this is actually something that i've been thinking about for a while but wanted to wait until after the expense of the whiskey tasting party was over before i even attempted anything.

i've already checked out quite a few books on sewing and fabric from the library that i have been looking through and reviewing. my sewing machine should arrive in a couple of weeks and my dress form has already arrived. i hadn't unpacked the dress form for more than 5 minutes before i started to play with fabric and such.

i knew that i was going to name her....but i wanted to spend some time with her before picking out a name. her name just came to me....and i think it is rather perfect tribute. i've decided to name her duckie.

because really..... if it was going to be blaine versus duckie.....for me, it always has been and always will be duckie.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

simple brunch break

i like making sensual food.

i am, at heart, someone that cooks for comfort and for the senses. i don't make intellectual food. i'm not saying that i don't enjoy intellectual food....because, i enjoy it quite a bit and can appreciate folks' food when it takes an intellectual angle or especially appreciate it when they are able to make their food intellectual and sensual at the same time.

yet, when i cook at home, i cook sensual food.

i think those of you who have been with me since the beginning already know this.

at work, i'm all about precise analysis, data patterns, connections, forecasts, strategies, trends, thinking...thinking...and more thinking. as a result, when i am in my kitchen to take a break from work.... cooking becomes my outlet and i want it to be as far removed from work as possible.

this is probably why there is little planning and intellectual references in my food. i want to be in the moment. in that moment, i want to think and feel about taste, flavors, aromas, and textures. just in that moment. then...in that moment what i cook and eat food purely based on my mood. as i scanned my kitchen, i saw that i had a few of the little organic farm potatoes left, so is started with them.

i know i'm such a nerd. hence, my attention and pleasure i get from slicing lovely little potatoes (the little organic farm) ......

and handling dried pulla chilies from tierra vegetables ......

cooing over the colors and smoothness of the chilies. i have quite a selection of dried chilies from tierra vegetables in my pantry as i love adding them to various sweet and savory dishes. the jar is mine btw...i just transferred over their label to it. they sell their dried chilies in bags.

as i was handling the pulla chilies, i decided to roast slices of the potatoes with ground pulla chilies in order to take advantage of the color and the flavor.....

and was already quite happily humming to myself as i loved the colors......

as i was putting everything together....and was even taking in how my fingers were slightly stained a lovely brick reddish color from handling the freshly ground chilies. it reminds me of working with pastels....when the pigments are left on your fingers....there was a part of me that almost took the ground chilies to play with on some paper...curious to see how the color would translate. yet, i only just resisted the temptation as i knew that it wouldn't be a good idea to start that kind of project as i may not go back to work. so i resisted and turned my attention back to my potatoes, taking pictures, and taking a moment to admire the sexiness of it....

funny how potatoes can be sexy huh?

then, once those were in a very hot oven, i looked around my fridge for some other ideas of what to eat with the sliced potatoes. i saw that i had some dino kale that i had braised earlier.....so i decided to have a bit of that.....and then thought...why not an egg too? a fried egg with greens and the potatoes. simple, easy, comforting, and hopefully....delicious.

when the potatoes were done, i prepped the kale........

and fried an egg . i briefly covering the pan while frying to get the top cooked a bit. then i placed a layer of potatoes on top of the kale.....

and then added the fried egg with a bit the ground pulla and kosher salt on top.

i didn't realize until this evening, as i'm processing the pics....how sensual the pictures came out. obviously, the sensual nature of the food was something i was thinking about as i was making it....and eating it.....but i didn't realize just how much came through until i processed the pics. i shouldn't have been surprised....but i was.

something for me to think about....outside of the moment.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

birthdays and roasted potatoes

just finished up my dinner of roasted potatoes.

on the surface, that sounds restrained and perhaps silly. yet, when one lives in san francisco with access to some pretty great ingredients.....it makes having roasted potatoes for dinner almost feel like i've done something rather naughty....especially when i've roasted the potatoes with mcevoy extra virgin olive oil and shallots. the potatoes are from little organic farm which has been popping up again recently at the sf ferry building farmers market on saturday. i was intrigued by them because one day they appeared next tierra vegetables (which is one of my regular stops on saturdays), a homie chef whispered a couple of things to me one day when we passed by them, and when i peered at the potatoes last saturday.... i noticed how incredibly thin skinned some of the potatoes were. so i bought some and it wasn't until today as i was wrapping up my day that i decided to try them out. so i decided to roast them simply and had a food nerd moment of cooing over the color of the insides....

i really do that by the way. pretty often actually. just taking a moment to appreciate the color, texture, smell, or feel of something i am making. it is a perk of being a home cook.

when i buy produce from a new (well new to me anyway) purveyor or vendor at a farmers market.... i try to cook it simply....as i want to get a sense of what they are selling. some of the produce from some of my faves (i.e., star route, marin roots, and dirty girl) often become snacks that i eat raw. sometimes they don't last through my snacking for me to actually cook them or make something with them. for example, earlier today, i snacked on radishes from marin roots "as is". the quality of the produce is one of the benefits of living here....and i'm no fool....i'm going to take advantage of this for as long as possible.

as the potatoes were roasting with some roughly cut shallots, salt, black pepper, and mcevoy extra virgin olive oil, i took a moment to process some of the pics i took yesterday as i was putting together a bday present for a homie chef.....

his birthday is today....and i took a quick break today to drop off his present at the ferry building this morning. hence me needing to get his present ready yesterday. as he is training for a marathon and is doing a "no booze" thing, i ended up getting him some random food-oriented things that may or may not assist him with his training.

what is rather amusing is that while i was doing this, susanna and i were texting back and forth ideas and such for his birthday....he was denying the fact his bday was coming up on twitter. i believe the exact tweet was "lies". i must admit that i was also rather amused that i put a picture of him on the bag.

something that may be slightly embarrassing for when the folks in the tent see it but not embarrassing enough for him to stab me with chopsticks.

quite a fine line that is.

he probably would have stabbed both of us if he realized some of the ideas that were flowing between susanna and i. eventually, susanna decided to bake healthy carrot + dried fruit cupcakes. i know that sounds bad....but they were pretty tasty actually. i'm no longer surprised how she can make things taste good that i never would have thought would taste good. we were both going with the theme of supporting him with the training.

it wasn't until i was eating my roasted potato dinner this evening...

that i realized that i didn't wait to be invited inside of the tent to say hey to everybody, happy birthday to the homie (or as i said to mrs. hapa ramen.... "your stinker"), and drop off the present. i just kind of showed up inside. funny how that happens when i didn't even really think about it. maybe because i spent a few days of my vacation working inside of it. maybe because one doesn't rest on formality anymore when someone seems to like to randomly put you in a headlock when you say hi or when you are trying to say bye.

it is a pretty far cry from getting scolding tweets + text messages for not coming by and saying hi.

this is for certain.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

personal moments at rye whiskey tasting party

i'm finally caught up on all of the work email and also managed to make progress on "real" work today as well. this is a good thing since it is after midnight and i wanted my work to be at a point where i wouldn't be stressing about it tomorrow....or well...technically later today actually. i'm off for a trip outside of the city with some friends...which is quite a motivation for getting caught up on work. so i'm winding down before i go to sleep.....sipping on some hudson rye and nibbling on some chocolates that SW brought to the whiskey tasting party.

i do like the hudson quite a bit. for me, the hudson has intoxicating nose notes of honey and caramel. as i sip on my whiskey and nibble on my chocolate, i'm thinking more about the party. instead of being all analytical about it....which don't worry....i will be later on....i'm thinking about the random personal moments from the party that make me feel warm with smiles, chagrin, and sighs.

so here they are....some random personal moments that stand out the most to me from the party.....

pre-party (it was really nutty right up to when the first folks started showing up)

  • the heart sis ran into my building manager throwing in my semi wet laundry into the dryer....and actually cut in front of her in order to dry my clothes so i wouldn't have them hanging out in my place. isn't that love?
  • AC making two trips to go get ice in his dress up gear.
  • the heart sis asking AC if he would be ok with her wearing jeans and him jokingly saying "i'll kill you" because she made him wear his dressy outfit and he (unlike the heart sis) didn't bring a spare outfit.
  • my yelling down to the heart sis about a call i got from AC from 4 floors up while she's busting down boxes for recycling
  • how i had no idea what i was going to wear to my own party until 30 minutes before it started. i didn't get myself showered/ready until 45 min before it started. good thing no one was early. seriously.
at the party
  • feeling relief that folks didn't think my commenting tasting notes via sticky notes plan wasn't so nerdy that they weren't going to participate.
  • the heart sis sneaking off into another room to finish up the suggested terms she found in one of the whiskey books i didn't want folks seeing. i didn't want people reading any of the whiskey books as that may have shaped their opinions on the ryes.
  • DM going straight for the moonshine (aka white rye) as his first taste
  • me hiding the recchiuti chocolate that SW brought from everybody else. i know how to think ahead.
  • feeling proud as CK obtained even more fans of her food.
  • me ensuring that i had pours out for the entire line up as i had a feeling that WW was going to be one of the first through the entire line up in a very methodical engineering sort of way. i knew i could count on WW along with the rocket scientist to do the comments with enthusiasm.
  • giggling at la chica + ms. AB breaking out into a coordinated dance
  • me pulling rank (as host) when CK's brown butter ice cream sandwiches came out so that i could be among the first to eat one. i'm no fool.
  • me telling CK that a certain chef said that her ice cream sandwiches were better than bi-rite. context: bi-rite is awesome...so more of a testament to CK's food.
  • many people commenting, touching, or pulling out various books on my bookshelves. i suppose the fact that i have books in every room and the books themselves probably reveals a lot about me.
  • chuckling at susanna eating at least 7 of SW's homemade tuile cookies (they are that good btw.)
  • feeling rather pleased with myself that i converted quite a few people over to mission chinese food via the orders of ma po tofu, kung pao pastrami, and the chinese bbq platter i had delivered.
  • jesse + richie were both tweeting about the party in real time. surreal.
  • SW + CK talking about my blog and keeping an eye out for postings about each other.
  • having a bonding moment with marcia over the june issue of italian vogue.
  • the heart sis pulling out the compostable cutlery that someone threw in the trash...because she knew how much hassle it was for me to obtain compostable everything.....cups, plates, cutlery, biobags, etc etc.
  • realizing how much my life has changed when JW asked me "where else do you work when you aren't working at hapa ramen?" context: i helped out in the hapa ramen stand while i was on vacation from my job and JW saw me at the stand earlier. still....quite a reminder how life is quite different these days.
  • hearing from a friend of a friend who is a bartender at a well known mission bar say that she plans on ordering one of the ryes she tasted for her bar and how the tasting notes were useful. this appealed to the practical part of me quite a bit.
  • from across the room...seeing richie with a chesire grin as he put sticky notes under various whiskey categories and me thinking "oh shit, what did he write that he is so pleased with himself?"
  • noticing how industry folks spent a lot of hanging out time in the kitchen. a lot. fascinating.
  • hearing how so many people were liking the templeton and thinking about how pleased GC would be that his choice was getting so much attention.
  • observing family, friends...both old and new....laughing, chatting, connecting, and having a good time.
overall, i think i was probably glowing throughout the entire evening....not from the rye...but with simple happiness.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

a break with the vanilla blueberry travel cake from tell tale preserve co

it is a bit of a mixed blessing that i have these cool stools in my kitchen. i love how they have enabled me to make even more practical use of my kitchen....as a nook for eating as well as an alternative work space. yet, before the stools arrived, i really did have to leave my apartment from 3-6pm because the sun warms up my office area of my place to the point where it becomes very very very difficult to concentrate on the screen due to the heat. the heat makes me sleepy. hence, this is why i would make treks to summit, haus, the sf main library, philz, or seek out random cafes during these hours to ensure i could remain productive. now, with the stools in place, i just move to the kitchen to work on my computer when that part of the apartment gets really warm. yet, i am also realizing that it means that i am less likely to actually leave my place or walk outside. i returned to work on thursday and things have been very busy since then. i've left my place twice since wednesday....once to go to the ferry building to buy a 4505 cheeseburger + the hapa ramen take home kit on thursday morning and once this morning....to go to the saturday ferry building market to pick up some goodies from some of my usual faves (i.e., dirty girl, tierra vegetables, acme, marin roots, tell tale preserve co., etc.) yes, i know that i'm going to have to figure something out...to ensure that i take walks in the middle of the day as a true "break". maybe i'll go on a walk later.....but right now i'm taking a mini break and wanted to share with you some food porn pics of the vanilla blueberry travel cake from tell tale preserve co that i bought this morning.

it really does travel well....as it completely survived my trip from the ferry building to my place via a very crowded muni ride. see.....it still looked beautiful...no worse for wear from the crowded bus ride.....

i'm usually not a big fan of cakes....and i think what sucked me into buying it was because it was beautiful, because i seem to be drawn to fruit-oriented sweets (like blueberries), and i've consistently enjoyed many many many things i've bought from tell tale. the travel cake was no different. i love how it was moist and how i could see the tiny flecks of vanilla within the cake.

i've been nibbling on it while sipping on proper english tea....and unsurprisingly, it is a good combo.

i've also bought many things from them for loved ones who aren't able to make it to the ferry building on tuesdays and saturdays.....and have heard much positive feedback on their wares from the pate de fruit to the jars of confitures. i hope that they'll be able to find a permanent space soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

side note: naia's st. george spirits flavor of bar gelato

ummm. i guess i'm being distracted from getting back to work....but i really wanted to say how i had this ice cream/gelato bar for the first time today. it was pretty tasty and it hit the spot. methinks this may be a regular treat in my freezer. i also have the blue bottle flavor (naturally) in the freezer as well. looking forward to trying that one. i picked up the bars at the whole foods on california/franklin in the city. they in their own separate freezer case in the hot foods/deli section.

taking food home from ferry building farmers market

yup. i'm back to work. i returned yesterday to early morning meetings and hundreds and hundreds of emails. i pretty much knew on thursday that i wouldn't be in a mindset to do any cooking so after three hours of meetings, i caught muni to the ferry building to buy some food to go or as "takeaway". i figured i eat a 4505 meats cheeseburger for my brunch and then reheat one of hapa ramen's take home kits for dinner. folks are able to purchase a take home kit of any ramen they have available that day and yesterday, the ramen on special was a yellowtail ramen broth with sake poached roe and these delicious homemade fishcakes. so after buying the burger, saying hi to the hapa ramen folks, and paying for the ramen via the tip jar (which i know rankles certain somebodies...but i don't have anything to trade...so into the tip jar it goes), i scurried home so that i could continue to do more work.

yet, while i ate the burger as soon as i got home......

and a few of the heart sis' cookies....that was all that i ended up eating on thursday. there was too much to catch up on work-wise. as a result, i had the yellowtail ramen for a brunch today after my round of morning meetings were complete.

everything was super easy to reheat. i had one pot of water to heat up the noodles and then once the yellowtail broth was simmering i put in the fishcakes so that they would be slowly reheated.

everything was done pretty quickly.

the delicate broth was tasty and i loved the fishcakes quite a bit.

well, time to get back to work.

until later....