Thursday, October 18, 2012

So when you start a blog at one point in your life, abandon it, and then return to it at a completely different point in your life, what are you supposed to do?  Are you supposed to begin again, blissfully (obliviously) writing alongside the passages that you were so proud of years ago, the ones that now make you cringe to re-read?  Are you supposed to bury the blog entirely?  Place flowers at its tombstone and say things like, "It was a good blog, a happy blog..."?

I suppose what you do is treat it like a yearbook of sorts.  Complete with the mistakes you hope to never repeat again, and the courage to press on when you do.  I suppose you write.  Because it's what sustains you.  Because it's what makes you stronger by allowing you to wallow, temporarily, in your moments of greatest weakness.  Because you know, there are too many voices in this story that will go unheard, unless you decide to amplify them.

Where to even begin...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Supperclub names...

flor de sal


este oeste


Pick one.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 Months Despues...

It's 5 o'clock in the morning here on our little island off the San Francisco bay.  The morning after a little midnight rain, and for the first time all week, it's strangely warm.  It has something to do with the cloud cover.  I love it when it's like this.  The streets are for the moment perfectly glossed, the way they look when dressed up for a movie or music video or something.  It's genuinely beautiful and magical instead of being contrived.  How lucky are we...

Heard the Cranberries' new single "Tomorrow" on the radio this morning.  Apparently this record has been out since October (??), but I hadn't heard it until now.  I have to say one of the things that always bothered me about the Cranberries was that I could never really appreciate their brilliant musicianship because of the relentless over-production.  "Tomorrow" is appropriately stripped of all the bells and whistles usually added in post-production (sweeping strings, classical percussion), and is all the better for it.  I don't know if hearing it on the bay area's Alice 97.3, a station that plays a mashup of alternative and top 40, has anything to do with why I think this, but it's so damn catchy I'm afraid it's susceptible of being caught in the wrong hands and used for evil rather than good (I'm looking at you, ABC/Disney Inc.).  Rolling Stone seems to like it, what do you think?

Well Christmas rears its ugly head again.  I think I was feeling the holiday spirit right up until I got bitch-slapped with a ticket on Tuesday.  I was even in such a good old lickety-fuckin'-Christmas mood I didn't even realize there was a ticket stuck like a helpless leaf under my windshield wiper until after I managed to pull out of my spot and tailgate the parking lady for a half a block down the street so that she didn't have the chance to give anyone else a ticket.

Also, the video for the Black Keys' "Lonely Boy" still disturbs me.  The Keys are known for doing videos that are usually marked with gaffaw-worthy humor, which begs the question: what do two white guys from Akron, Ohio find funny about an older black man dancing and lip-syncing to one of their songs?  You got me there, guys, this one's over my head.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chow, Bella No More...

Well it turns out I'm not nearly as clever as I'd once thought.  I know, crazaaay.  While researching the San Francisco dining scene by complete accident I happened upon this:

Another photo-based food blog featuring home cooking and restaurant dining.  I had to go the rest of the day using only one hand because the other was too busy keeping my jaw from gaping open in utter shock.

If the blog wasn't so popular I don't think I'd care much, but seeing as this woman has a pretty substantial following of her own and the fact that I never really loved the name of this here blog, I think it best we at least try and avoid a lawsuit.

So!  This blog needs a new name.  One that isn't already taken.  Go.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Weekend of Food Debauchery Pt. II: Birthday Edition

 Morning of...

 1414 Encinal Ave
AlamedaCA 94501

The best thing about Jay's could be the fact that they open at the near crack o'dawn (6 AM), which was when we (myself and the birthday girl) found ourselves here after an early morning gym run; muscles depleted, demanding glycogen in the form of a toasted bagel, protein in the form of a nicely microwaved egg, and fat in the form of a hydrogenated vegetable oil-powdered milk emulsification molded into a solid, white brick and sliced for human consumption...I mean American cheese. 

 If nothing else, it really hit the spot, tasting pretty much exactly as described, with the only "flare" being black pepper in the eggs and butter/margarine on the bagel, as rightfully expected from a coffeeshop breakfast sandwich.  It could have just been the post-run endorphins talking, or the fact my total bad/mediocre bagel abstinence program had run me into "need bagel please you bagel me now!" mode, but sitting there in the corner window seat, awash in the tepid morning light, it was perfect.  
 Ok, really?  I walked right into that one, it really was delicious.
Money shot: the inside of the accompanying strawberry croissant.  That's a completely untouched pic, by the way.  I'm pretty sure strawberry croissants in France don't look anything like this.  In fact, I'm pretty sure they look like this.  That being said, after accepting that this was really just a Pop-Tart posing as a croissant, it was easier to enjoy the cloying sweetness of the berry-flavored jelly encased in its cold, flaccid pastry shell.  Really.  A great way to start a birthday.

Fast-forward: 12 hours later.  For the record, there's nothing worse than working on your best friend's birthday.  Okay maybe working on your own birthday.  If there's one "life lesson" to take away here, it's if you can, take an hour off.  Just one hour that's yours to have on days like these.  You're not superhuman, and it's your damn birthday.

Evening of (the birthday dinner)...
1108 Lincoln Avenue
Alameda, CA 94501

El Caballo is a unique little spot in Alameda.  I'll just say this: it took a lot of coordination with one of the owners, Oscar, to get seven of us in there an hour and a half before closing.  He's great.  He's got this million-dollar smile and a mayoral quality; a real schmooze, you get the sense that he could talk you into trying anything, food-related or not.  But his generosity and willingness to accommodate a bunch of high-energy girls on a Friday night was unmatched, and won't soon be forgotten.

 Is that salt on my chips?  Yep, these are the best chips in Alameda.  Hands down.  Don't care what you have to say about La Penca.  Really don't.  In the freebie corn chip battle, salt beats any endless supply because in the end it's about flavor, and these are exponentially corny.

 The restaurant's cooks are all female, which is so awesome to see.  And their backgrounds have even made an impression on the menu as one of the week's featured specials was Salvadoran pupusas with curtido made to order and served with the traditional spicy tomato sauce.  Not only was it fresh, it was delicious.  And the first I've ever seen of the yellow variety in the Bay, which is more indicative of Panama.

Chicken tamal
Fish tacos with marinated, then grilled red snapper, whole beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and a spicy chipotle aioli.  This was definitely more of a nod to the California-style fish taco than the Baja  original.  That being said it was lightyears better than I thought it would be as I have been conditioned to be immediately skeptical of anything with "chipotle aioli" mentioned in the description.
Enchiladas estilo casera - enchiladas made with corn tortillas that have been flash-fried and then submerged in a chile-spiked tomato sauce, filled with cheese and smothered in enchilada sauce.  As good as these were the first time, I don't think they were quite what the birthday girl was looking for.  The flavor and consistency of the sauce on top of everything was more akin to a mole than that of an enchilada sauce, and though folded the right way, it became difficult to discern the type of melty cheese that was so delicately encased inside.
The end to this monster of a meal was a piece of tres leches cake for the birthday girl and an assortment of gelatinas for everyone else.  This was where Oscar's hospitality really came into play as he was generous enough to allow me to bring in seven gelatinas and a piece of cake (all still in their plastic containers), refrigerate them, hold them, plate them, and sneak them out to us on cue so that we could keep birthday girl in the dark about the whole thing.  

And thanks to Oscar and the crew down at El Caballo, would you believe it actually worked?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Up Ahead...

Weekend of Food Debauchery - Pt. II

Dinner in Alameda
Oakland nightlife
Lunch in Santa Cruz

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Weekend of Food Debauchery

1305 Park St
AlamedaCA 94501 
Pad See Ew - stir-fried chowfun-style noodles with chicken, egg and chinese broccoli.
Never have I had noodles that were so clearly wok'd.  Hard to know whether how this compares to food in Thailand, but the dishes here continue to wow me, even when I think it can't get any better.  The food is complex to the n-th degree, and if you stay late into the night, when the crowds have tapered off, if you're lucky the shy but ever-gracious chef will come by with a tired smile, touch a hand to the back of your shoulder, make sure you're doing alright.

I've walked away from what seems like countless dinners at La Penca wondering, "What the hell did I just pay twenty dollars for?"  In contrast, I have walked away from almost every meal from here more than willing to pay more for what they've offered...probably shouldn't say that too loud.
 One of Homeroom Racing Cafe's greatest attributes is their condiments: a giant squeeze bottle of sweet chili sauce (which is ironically always half empty), pickled jalape├▒os, a shaker of white pepper, a dark, hellish looking liquid that tastes like a delicious cross between black vinegar and soy sauce with just a hint of fermented fish, and this stuff, dried red chilis toasted in a wok and then coarsely ground (pictured above).  The stuff brings a flavorful smokey aroma and then goes off like gunpowder on the tongue, a brilliant compliment to the Cafe's coconut milk and chicken soup.

736 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

Malay Paste (Ma Lai Go) - I've got this strange obsession with Ma Lai Go.  I'm sort of a freak for this stuff.  I have absolutely no idea what it has to do with Malaysia, except that it's a popular street snack there.  There are two types that I've encountered on my quest for the best in the Bay: the super-eggy, Velveta yellow kind and the complex brown sugar type, which often has a more delicate crumb.  Good Luck's version turned out to be the latter, and a great version at that.  If there's one thing to take away from this sampling it's that these were some of the cleanest tasting dim sum items we've ever had.  The ingredients in play were concentrated and clear, not muddied with cheap filler as some dishes tend to be.
 Jin deui - fried sesame ball
 There are certain things you eat because they taste good.  The calories, the quality of the ingredients, the nutritional value, no.  Jin deui are these things.
 Char siu bao - steamed, yeasted ball o'white bread (though usually cut with lard, hubba-hubba!) filled with a tacky, sweet mix of onions and BBQ pork.  Ok maybe char siu bao you can feel a little better about eating.  Gotta have your protein.
 Part of the charm of Good Luck - the stonefaced woman seated at the first table, constructing box after box after box like some bad Darren Aronofsky flim.
1737 Haight Street
San FranciscoCA 94117
 East Coast sensibility with a West Coast attitude adjustment.
 Best god-damn pizza in SF thus far.

495 Castro St
San FranciscoCA 94114
 Came all the way from across the city because the hankerings I get for the salmon burritos I used to get here manage to keep me up at night.  
Me: "Hey so the 'grilled fish burrito', that's still with salmon, right?"
Lady behind the counter: "No."
Me: " what fish is it?"
LBTC: "Tilapia."
Me: "Ok but it used to be salmon, right?"
LBTC: "No."
Went ahead and ordered it anyway (pictured above).  In a nutshell: too crestfallen for anything other than that salmon burrito (that I apparently made up) to hit the spot.  Too little fish, too many beans, too bitter to care.
 The only thing I can't hate on, however, is their salsas bar.  The charred tomato will burn a hole right through your esophagus, but it's so good going down.  Not to mention their tomatillo-avocado, really easy to do badly, but done so righteously here.

456 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

 Bourbon & Soda - Cape Cod
Shout out to Eric, our bartender - ripped like a gorilla and cute as a button, not easy to pull off.  Also love him for gifting me a great drink when he took, "Another bourbon and soda," for "A blueberi Stoli and soda."
 Castro Theater - photo credit Isaura Facundo

Unfortunately there also might have been some post-bar drunk-food that was so bad it's not even worth posting here.  Let's just say a pretty terrible mole tamal (that I can't even endorse despite being enamored by the location) and a giant buttermilk donut procured at a sketchy downtown donut shop some time around midnight (I think) go down like mother's milk when you're swaying on your feet.