Monday, August 29, 2011

loveliness


just arrived home. had a lovely dinner out at the hapa ramen popup at bar tartine this evening. we sat at the bar so hence, no foodie porn pics. i don't use a flash...especially in a restaurant setting. there is something really lovely about hanging out with someone you care about and sharing food....especially sharing food that is so well prepared and tasty.

the after work day, we started at sightglass coffee. i hadn't been before yet i've been wanting to see the space. just as a fyi, the available chairs are limited downstairs (i don't know if there is any seating upstairs)....yet, there is quite a bit of standing space...which reminds me quite a bit of the counters i saw in rome actually. we met at sightglass for some coffee before heading out to the mission for the hapa ramen popup.


by some miracle, we actually found a parking spot...in front of tartine no less. so before we went to bar tartine for the popup, we visited tartine bakery. it was fate i suppose.

by the time we reached the hapa ramen pop up.....it wasn't even 6:30 yet and there were already quite a few people seated. this instantly told me that it was going to be a super busy night. i was glad that there was space at the bar because we hadn't made a reservation. after saying a quick hi to folks....and bit of a side trip to pick up something from the van for them (hey, what are friends for...i also did offer to go on a coffee run for mrs. hapa ramen too...which i probably should have done despite her saying there was no need), i sat down with a loved one and we ordered. oh boy, did we order....we ended up having the charcuterie board......so super delicious.....the foie dish which we both were completely enamored of....the almost infamous dumplings which were pan fried so it had that nice crunchy bottom to it....the sardines....the sous vide albacore....the spleen taste from the secret menu....and the bourbon spiked trifle. so much good food. i am so stuffed right now.

by the time i said my super duper quick good byes to richie, sus, and mrs. hapa ramen.....and we left.....the place was just buzzing. it was a full house and there were folks waiting outside. it was still early. as i type this, i have a feeling that it is still super duper busy. i really can't wait until they open their permanent place.....so that more folks will have the opportunity to taste their lovely food.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

late lunch with a side of raw sauce


before i put my head into a work project for the rest of the evening, i thought i'd take a moment or two to go though some of the pictures i've taken recently including the late lunch i made for myself earlier. i decided to make a large batch of the raw tomato sauce that a friend told me about...who i am not allowed to credit. i also posted about making this sauce for the first time earlier. i wanted to make this sauce of grated raw early girl tomatoes, organic ca grown garlic, kosher salt, and mcevoy olive oil to see if it would go well with boccalone's ciauscolo in a sandwich. i picked up this soft salame w/porcini mushrooms from boccalone last week.



as i was making the sauce and the sandwich i was thinking about how i made this sauce for someone as well as a few other things and that evening he asked me how did i get to know so much about food. the question took me aback then as it does now....just recalling it. i think he could tell i was taken aback by the question and explained how he thought someone we know in common likes to pretend that they know about food but really doesn't...and how in comparison....i really know about food. while he was saying this, i wondered if he thought this because he is one of the small handful of people that know i am person behind the alias and anonymous mask of "foodie hunter".




i suppose it is all relative.

personally, i don't see myself as knowing much about food. yet, i can see his point...especially when he brought up the mutual person we know in common. it is one thing to eat for status....it is another to be passionate about it, even when no one is looking. i suppose this came through when watching me cook, eating what i cook, and having general conversations about it.



i know that i'm passionate about it... i know that i like to study where food comes from, the science of food, the wider political impact of food business, and how on a micro and personal level.....how it nourishes our bodies....our senses....our memories.......and how we can communicate....and show care through food. i also just love food for the pure pleasure of it.


i suppose i don't really see myself as knowing much about food because i see how much there is still for me to learn. it is seemingly endless. yet, that doesn't disappoint me...it find it rather exciting....the bounty of almost never ending knowledge and discovery.


i suppose it is also because there are loved ones that know a heck a lot more about food than i do. they have chosen their professions to revolve around food....and/or because they have done extensive amount of research....both theoretical and empirical...than i have. i learn so much from being around them as well. it just naturally happens.

this blog is an extension my passions....where i am able to meld my passions for writing, food, and photography....all in one place. i was thinking about this quite a bit as i was making my way through my sandwich as well as dipping my sandwich in more of the raw sauce....because why not?.....there are those beef sandwiches that folks dip in drippings....so why not dip my sandwich in more delicious raw tomato sauce?



it does not escape me that someone with my sense of privacy and my chosen profession has such a public outlet for my melding passions. the fact that this is such a public outlet is something that i'm also thinking more about as the small handful of people that know and discover that "foodie hunter" is me....is unintentionally growing. the other day when i was hanging out with someone, they asked me if i post anything negative in my blog.

while this person knows i am the author of "foodie hunter", i've only recently met them.....so they weren't around for that diatribe i wrote last year that made some rather unexpected rounds via social media.

so my response was "no, i don't."

sometimes, i'm not exactly talkative.

then they were like, "why not?"

my response was a lot more concise than my diatribe.....it was simply "because writing negative things has the potential to hurt people. and their families".

after i said my response that day and realized that i could condense my diatribe down to that ....it was a bit startling....as it made me also realize that i'm not exactly as robotic and unfeeling as i seem.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

market bounty from the sf ferry building farmers market

just another day at the saturday farmers market....











stops today included.....pepperoncini and golden cayenne peppers from tierra vegetables, potatoes from the little organic farm, pluots from tory farms, early girl tomatoes from dirty girl produce, eggs from marin sun farms, nectarines from frog hollow farm, spiced pear syrup from june taylor, and some goodies for the last time from tell tale preserve....a jar of preserves, some pate de fruit, and chocolate marshmallows.

Friday, August 26, 2011

tartly sweet

hmmmm. taking a moment. taking a break. snacking and thinking.

thinking some more.

the past week or so i've picked up these delicious tangy sweet pluots from the farmers market at the ferry building. i actually don't know if i've ever told you, dear reader, how plums and their various offshoots/hybrids etc....are amongst my favorite fruits.


there is something about the combination of sweet and tart that definitely appeals to me. not only do i find the tingly stimulation appealing on the taste buds....it is a fruit that also appeals to my sense of intellectual irony.


often times, i've thought about how fascinating it is to have seemingly contrasting, conflicting, and yet complementary flavors encompassed in a single sphere that fits in one hand. sweet and sour. tart and sweet. seemingly at opposite ends but not. intermingled to create something new.

it is a paradox.

much like life at times i suppose.

particularly at this moment. as i recall that choices, memories, and life may also encompass these same qualities. sweetly tart. tartly sweet. unpredictable in how it will showcase itself and predictable in its familiar flavors.


right now i'm looking at the rather lovely slices of pluot....i'm realizing that each time i taste a slice..... it is different and the same. sometimes the flavors are instantaneously sweet and tangy. sometimes the flavors begin sour as i taste the skin and the flesh closest to it.....and then that particular slice will end sweet. then sometimes it is an unpredictable flow that is instantaneous and alternating...with no rhyme or reason.... it just is what it is.


it seems appropriate that i be drawn to this fruit recently. i am no long surprised that what i eat and cook reflects what i am feeling and thinking in a given moment. i am willing to bet that you, dear reader, are not surprised as well.

you see....i'm going to atlanta for business and am considering whether or not to visit new york. i have a rather complicated relationship with new york. this has been depicted in many postings and most visibly within my multiple "love letters" to the city that have appeared throughout the years. i obviously love new york. yet, it is fully possible to love something and realize, rationally, that it isn't such a good idea.

i still haven't decided.

it could be really sweet.

it could be really sour.

methinks i'll just continue processing for a bit. you know, weigh the pros and cons....both intellectually and emotionally....of each tartly sweet memory and potential experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

red quinoa chickpea veggie salad

those that have been with me since the beginning are not surprised by my randomly throwing together meals based on what i have on hand. today was no different. as usual, i already had some cooked grain in my fridge. this week, it is red quinoa and i decided to make a salad with it. i also grabbed some leftover spicy curried chickpeas, an early girl tomato from dirty girl, some leftover cooked broccoli (which i don't recommend adding if you decide to make something like this for company....i just wanted to add it since it was in my fridge....but it doesn't add anything to it...and it didn't really "go" with it)

there really wasn't a lot of forethought to this dish....as it consisted of me looking around my kitchen and fridge thinking to myself "how about adding that too?". after i decided upon the quinoa, the spicy chickpeas, and the early girl tomato.....all i knew was that
i really wanted to there to be some additional texture.....some kind of crunch or spice that would hold it's own against the spicy soft chickpeas and add some contrast. that is when i wondered if the radishes from marin roots would work....and then the green onion....and then the shallots as well. all components that would add their own bite to the dish.


see how random it can be in my kitchen .....and head....sometimes?


so i prepped everything.





as the chickpeas had quite a bit of spice onto it and because i didn't want to the quinoa to be wet/soggy, i decided to forgo any sort of "dressing" for the salad. this tactic worked out pretty well. i also did quite a bit of tasting as i was adding things....




which confirmed this. while i was doing the tasting, i also realized that the broccoli didn't really do anything for it. i almost considered just eating all of the broccoli pieces right then....but that wouldn't have been exactly honest to the experience today. oh well. live and learn. but the green onion, shallots, and radishes definitely added a nice crunch and non-chile spice to it.




i didn't add a bit of chopped tomato until i plated it because i didn't want the quinoa to get soggy....so i scooped out a bit on the plate first....then added a bit of chopped tomato.....then another layer of the quinoa veggie mix and more tomatoes.....


i prefer my quinoa salads to be dry, light, and airy.


yet, what i think really "made" this dish was finishing it with the chiffonade of mint. i think i'm totally in love with adding a chiffonade of mint on top of spicy things at the moment. yet, i really do believe that the mint added another dimension to the dish that was quite lovely. in a random moment, as i was eating the dish....the mint with the grain salad reminded me of a basmati rice salad i had at ottolenghi in london. ahhh, food memory. so random as well.


after i made my way through the salad, i came to the conclusion that this is something i would be happy to make for company (sans the broccoli). i can also see how something like this may be modified depending on the season.....for example, i bet roasted root veggies or winter squash would go well.....and instead of doing mint...i could see doing some crumbled fried sage and doing the chickpeas with 3 types of chilies and lemon....but leave out the tumeric, coriander, and cumin. so many potential things to do. so many potential things to try.

this is one of the reasons why i love to cook. i never know where it will take me or what it will inspire next.....and this is never a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

thinking about saturday....did it really happen?


today was a simple and recovery day.


my meals for myself today reflected this. just simple green tea soba noodles......

dressed with broad bean soy sauce, dried ground red chilies, sesame oil, nuoc mam, and furikake. then topped with blanched french green beans and chopped early girl tomatoes from dirty girl produce.

it is the type of dish that i eat hot or cold. there are many possible variations that depend on my mood or the type of produce that looked good from a recent trip to the market.





as i made my way through this simple dish throughout the day, i thought a lot about the last few days. it has been quite a busy time for me. today has been the first day in a while that i've been able to just pause for a moment.



i submitted a large complex project yesterday that had me working pretty late into the night or rather into the early morning....for the last week or so. i'm finding that 2am is usually my impenetrable wall. no matter how much i'd like to continue, my brain seems to initiate automatic shut down mode. this is probably a good thing as it enables me to get a few hours of sleep in before attending the first meetings of the day at 6am.

these are not complaints. this is just how it is. it is the life that i have chosen.

my work life is intellectually stimulating. it pays for me to live in this nice place in pacific heights and enables me to eat from a privileged position...choosing to eat what i want to eat. i feel very fortunate as a former child of the tenderloin. i don't take my financial independence for granted. i've worked hard to be where i am today.

despite the crazy ass work schedule i've been having over the past few weeks, i do make time to hang out with loved ones. i also do rather nutty things like agree to help out a friend at the san francisco street food festival even though i am such an incredible cranky pants that hates talking to people.

while the people i work with would be surprised to see the words about my hating talking to people....since there is no way around not talking to people when managing a team at an international company. yet, i realize that while there may be aspects of my job i'm not thrilled about.....it is my job and responsibility. my company pays me for access to my brain, to run the team, and do my job well. there is definitely a quid pro quo element involved. it is a business deal.

in my personal life however, i have a very different perspective. very.

i view my time as being extremely precious and priceless. my personal time is for me to spend with people i respect and care for. it can have many different sort of manifestations. from making mini-pizzas at my goddaughter's bday party because she just wants to know i'm there, to talking on the phone with the heart sister, to cooking food at a friends house to ensure that we can spend the most time together, to having a catch up over a meal, coffee, drink, or the like.

also, on occasion, i will help out a friend.....not because i'm being "paid"....but because i believe in what they are doing. i want to support what they are working to achieve. this is why despite the crazy ass schedule i have for my job right now, i helped out in the hapa ramen stand at the san francisco street food festival this past saturday.

i'm pretty certain that richie is well aware that i believe in what he is doing with food. i'm also pretty certain that he was well aware that i wasn't exactly thrilled about working the festival given how crowded it is....as earlier in the week, when we were talking on the phone, he said "so, you know that event happening this weekend that you are so thrilled about working....can you work the afternoon shift?". i may not have been thrilled about the thought of talking to hordes and hordes of people, but at the end of the day, of course i would be there. my respect for what richie is doing and my care for both him and mrs. hapa ramen trumps my dislike of having to be nice to people.

it really is that simple.

how could i not support them? the hours that they put in are rather mind boggling at times. a couple of days before the festival, i stopped by the kitchen to pick at herbs for about an hour and a half....and could see how they were in the midst of their prep. the pork being broken down, the tremendous amount of veg that needed to be prepped, etc. etc. the time at the festival itself is a very small part of the entire process. i may be tired.....but it is nothing to what they physically experience.

the day of the festival, i was already pretty tired when i showed up. my team at work is unexpectedly down a member which naturally, impacts the entire work load. yet, i was determined to make it through the festival. i showed up early to drop off some stuff at the stand, say hey to folks, and had the intention of taking pictures like i had done in previous years, but it didn't really work out. i spent a lot of time drinking copious amount of caffeine....noshing on some beef heart skewers from one of the vendors.....

then hiding out haus (one of my go to cafes) until my "shift" started.....sending texts to both sus + richie to let me know if they needed me to come earlier....then proceeding to drink more caffeine. all the while...completely aware that the festival crowds were growing and growing .....and i could feel my nerves begin to spike a bit. i really didn't want to fuck up and impact the flow of service. from my perspective, the stakes were considerably more personal. fucking up at the festival would directly impact people that i care about. potentially fucking up at my day job is more a matter of work ethic, principle, and responsibility....but it isn't personal.

i arrived at the stand about 15 minutes before my "shift" was designated to begin. i changed, got ready, and then reported for "duty". naturally, things were buzzing and i was trying to absorb the flow structure as quickly as possible. unsurprisingly, the tiredness and nerves went away...because in that moment, there wasn't time for either. it was about being present in the moment and getting done what needed to get done.

service was a blur. yet, there were a few moments that stood out.
  • mrs. hapa ramen unwavering in her cheer speaking to thousands of people. i really don't know how she does it. really.
  • observing richie expediting.....and thinking to myself that it reminded me of a conductor and an orchestra. there is a grace to it.
  • jesse randomly cracking jokes and one liners as he was pouring his naturally fermented sodas
  • the seemingly never ending line of people....but still being able to recognize regulars. acknowledging them as regulars. letting them know that they are appreciated....because they really are.
  • my rather unprofessional moment of waiting until an EMT was 15 feet away from the stand before i announced my observational admiration for said EMT to everyone in the stand and to the amusement of a couple of female clients.
  • the moment when those on the line were ready for the next batch of noodles...oddly enough....including myself for a bit....the fingers of both hands holding various components....ready to pounce on each bowl as it became ready.
  • not asking if it was ok to do something, but just doing it, because it needed to be done.
  • my trying not to smile (well not really) and not succeeding at not smiling when seeing the random moments of playful connection between richie and mrs. hapa ramen in my peripheral vision.
  • the people that told me how excited they were about tasting the ramen at the festival because they weren't able to make it to the ferry building.
  • answering questions from various clients with phrases that began with "we are at the ferry building farmers market...."...."we don't have a brick and mortar restaurant right now but we are hoping to have our place in about a year"....."we have a popup coming up on the 29th at bar tartine"....each time i said "we" i felt a little complicated tug. because it is complicated.
  • the diversity of the people that came to eat. all backgrounds. all sizes. all accents.
  • the short very young man with a curly haired fro that looked like an explosion....it was three times the size of his head.... wearing thin wired framed glasses that indicated he was far-sighted....and held himself with such confident acceptance that i couldn't help but smile when he was ordering. he was adorable. just adorable.
  • victor asking me "how's it going?" at the end of service. my laughing and sus piping in how appropriate that question was because now we can just talk to each other.
a few hours later, i was back at home working on a project for my "day" job. while i was still running off of the adrenaline from service, when i saw pictures that richie was tweeting from the after party, service seemed like it was ages ago....surreal even....almost like it was some kind of dream.

i remember asking myself, "did it really happen?"

i suppose it really did.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

raw sauce


when i was at market today to pick up a few things to make dinner for S&ON at their place, friends at market were asking me about what i was going to make. i said that i was going to make a chickpea thing and something with the early girl tomatoes from dirty girl and the acme bread. likely, mini sandwiches with the bread, butter, tomatoes, and pepper. i have a soft spot for variations of tomato sandwiches or tartines.

then, one of the friends, who i am not allowed to name, suggested grating the early girl tomatoes with a box grater, then adding microplaned garlic, some olive oil and salt. then spreading it on bread. i had never tried that before and asked if i use it for the blog, may i reference you as the recipe source? his response "fuck no". then the other friend suggested citing "northern spain" as the influence.

so that left me with a wee bit of a dilemma.

since it wasn't my idea.

so i decided to credit him with telling me about it...but not say what his name is.....thereby adhering to what he wanted but also mollifying my sense of ethics.

i used his advice as a baseline for making the appetizer for the dinner tonight. i don't own a box grater so i used a microplane that wasn't as fine as i used for the garlic. my assumption is that the box grater would have left some desirable texture to the tomatoes rather than having it be as finely crushed/grated using the wider microplane that i did.


yet, i used the equipment i had on hand. i really wouldn't have thought of grating a tomato, but i'm glad that i did. there was something really beautiful about it. likely the color in addition to the motions. he didn't provide ratios of the ingredients...but i don't think he needed to.








i tasted as i went along....finding the balance that i was happy with....a balance of the flavors where i could taste each ingredient. when the raw tomato sauce was done, i dipped the acme bread into it. just supremely delicious. it was also a big hit with S&ON as well.





something as simple as this relies quite heavily on the quality of each ingredient. i'm also very thankful for the friend providing the tips regarding the techniques as well. again, i would have never have guessed to grate a tomato. methinks i'd like to try a variation of this raw sauce as a dressing for pasta or with poached fish or steamed shrimp on the shell or perhaps, a spoonful on top of a shirred egg. oh, you knew i was going to put an egg reference in at some point. i have such an egg fetish.