Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Take A Chance On Me"

Do people take enough chances? Are we being too cautious?

I had a conversation a few weeks ago with my friend Josh. We started sentences with 'If I was 18 now, and knew then what I know now...' If I were 18 now, I'd think about culinary school. I'd think about living abroad. I'd think about picking up and moving to a new city.

I know it's hard to avoid thinking like that. But why do we? Why does age have to affect our decisions? Why can't we just do what we want to, to take a risk and to do what our gut tells us to do?

I guess it's hard to live a life completely without any regrets. Shoot, I regretted not buying squash blossoms from the Farmer's Market the other week. But what about those bigger decisions and choices? Regrets around job decisions? Falling in life? Or simply playing it safe and not going for it. What about that age old question: WHAT IF?

Why can't we take more changes? When it comes to things like new jobs? Or trying out new things? On taking a chance? Eating new foods? Falling in love and following our heart?

My mom battled cancer for more than seven years. And near the end of her life, I found myself wanting to ask her questions. Knowing that I didn't have much more time with her, I wanted to take advantage of every second we had together. I wanted to know, did she have regrets in her life? What would she have done differently if she could have gone back in time? In the end, I never did ask her. Part of me didn't want to know. It's such a personal question in so many ways. Why ask someone to think about their regrets? I just hoped that there were more things in her life that she was happy with and didn't regret. And that she was happy with her life and her family. I just hoped that my sister and I made her proud, and that she knew how much we all loved her.

I was thinking about all of this as I was walking to work one day, with iPod in my ear. Then the ABBA song "Take A Chance On Me" came on. And I had a light bulb moment. I found myself listening to the words and all of them having new meaning to me. It's cheesy, but one of my favorite ABBA songs was essentially where this posting came from. You just never know where you'll find inspiration.

Meal of the Month: August

Time just flies when you’re eating well. I sure was lucky this month. Meals ranged from stellar meals (yes, many, many meals) at Beretta, to a fancy dinner at The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton with my family, to a chef’s tasting menu at Postrio with my friend Vanessa, to Dining in the Dark at Opaque Restaurant (even tasting miracle fruit!). There was also the dinning poolside in Palm Springs with Supper Club friends, ‘bar food’ at Boulevard with my friend Jason, a fantastic brunch at Foreign Cinema with the Benjamin clan and one of the most fun Sunday brunches I’ve had in a long time at Balboa Café with friends Sabine, Rohit and new friend Dave. There was also lots of home cookin’ this month too, some delicious grilled salmon, home made pad thai, and more heirloom tomatoes than this gal knows what to do with.

Not attractive to everyone, but those chicken livers at Beretta sure are yummy!

Yummy pizza...prosciutto di parma, tomato, arugula & mozzarella

One of my favorite pizzas: broccolini, pancetta, tomato & mozzarella- with an egg on top!

Sauteed Ayu with a tomato gelee, basil seeds, basil oil and heirloom tomato compote

Opps, it was so good I dug right in! Kindai tuna tartar with a stone fruit compote

Devil's Gulch Pork Chop, with crispy skin on top, and a blackberry gastrique!

Sonoma Duck Breast, it was Delicious!

There are no photos when you're dining in the dark! So here's a photo of my friend JT and I post-dinner

One of the many yummy tomato salads I've had this summer

Kebabs! Perfectly filing and light for a hot summer night in Palm Springs!

My first attempt at making my own pad thai at home. It was yummy!

Let’s not forget burritos at my friend’s Alli’s house after putting Charley to bed, lasagna with Kathleen and her adorable son Joe, and ‘nibbles’ with Tatiana and Michelle (FYI: nibbles to a chef is quite the spread, not what you have in mind at all!) The end of the month brought cheese tasting with JT and Teresa, a fun meal at Mission Beach Café with Jason and Eric (and an amazing honey lavender cheesecake!), and a lot of SLOW FOOD! (More on that later!)

Hmmm, you can’t beat a month like that! How’s a girl suppose to pick a favorite? I feasted on heirloom tomatoes this month, fresh California pizzas, cheese (lots of cheese), lots of fresh corn (and tons of corn soup!), and some yummy sticky toffee pudding too!


More cheese...

The prettiest cheese of all!

What could beat all of these meals? Tough, right? Well. Here’s the winning meal.

A casual family dinner with my Dad and sister, Michelle. There’s a little restaurant in Redwood City that we like, it’s called Blue Sky Café. Some friends of ours own it, the husband is the chef and the wife runs the front of the house with other family members. Is it fancy? No. Is service great? Not at all. Do we always have a great meal there. Most definitely. On a recent visit home to see Dad, we opted out of cooking (it was just too hot, and we were just too lazy!) The only problem with going out to eat? There were foods we were craving. The solution? We decided to go up to Blue Sky Café, but we came with goods in tow. A fresh crab and whole fish.

We feasted that night. We had delicious steamed fish (everyone should try this method—it’s so simple, and yet so good!), baked crab with onions and ginger, eggplant with chicken and a delicious beef with onions in a strawberry sauce. The meal was simple. So simple and casual, there aren't even photos! Special because of the company. And just one of those great summer nights when everything in the world is perfect.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

An American Version of the Omnivore's Top Hundred

So Slashfood decided to post their own list. An American version of the Omnivore's Top Hundred that ran a little while back--which originated from Great Britain.

I've got 28 more items I need to try. Meaning I've tried less items on the 'American' list than the original list from Great Britain. Interesting. Does that make me more British than American? At least when it comes to my palate? Who knows? Maybe there is a reason why I think American's don't know how to eat. And that American's are ignorant when it comes to food and eating.

God Save the Queen.

New York pizza
Hoppin' John
New Mexico green chile
Homemade buttermilk biscuits

Whole Maine lobster
Calabash-style shrimp and hushpuppies
Kansas City barbecue ribs
Hot glazed Krispy Kreme
San Diego fish tacos
Cheese curds
Key lime pie
Philly cheese steak

Memphis pork barbecue sandwich
Lowcountry boil
Huckleberry pie
New England clam chowder
Boiled peanuts
Buffalo burger
Eggs Benedict
Pastrami on rye
Corned beef and cabbage
Pancakes with maple syrup
Everything bagel with cream cheese and tomato
Thin Mints (preferably frozen)

Frito pie
Potato knish with mustard
Silver Queen corn on the cob
Soft pretzel from a street cart
Fresh-picked blueberries

Sourwood honey
State fair funnel cake
Chesapeake crab cakes
Candied yams

Oyster dressing
Snow cone or snowball
Wild Alaskan salmon
Sautéed morels

Persimmon pudding
General Tso's Chicken
Frozen custard
Italian sausage with peppers and onions on a hoagie bun
Chili dog
Buffalo wings with blue cheese
Spam musubi
Saltwater taffy
Fluffernutter sandwich on Wonder Bread
Black and white cookie
BLT with thick-cut applewood bacon
Baked beans
Pumpkin pie
Collards with vinegar and Tabasco
Tex-Mex fajitas with skirt steak and sautéed peppers
Fried green tomatoes
Shrimp and grits
Hot water cornbread

Barbecue chicken pizza with red onions
Chicken fried steak
Carnitas burrito
Apple butter
Soft-serve ice cream cone dipped in chocolate shell (especially Dairy Queen)
Pecan pie

Catfish supper at a church or fire station
Oysters Rockefeller
Homemade cranberry sauce
Pimiento cheese
MoonPie washed down with R.C. Cola
Pickled watermelon rind
Cracker Jacks at the ball game
Smithfield ham
Meatloaf and mashed potato blue plate special at diner
Chicken and waffles

Green bean casserole with French's fried onions
Stuffed sopaipillas
Shad roe on toast
Sweet potato casserole with or without marshmallows
New York cheesecake
Pan-fried river trout
North Carolina pig pickin'
California rolls
Penuche fudge
Fried peanut butter and banana sandwich (the Elvis)
Scrapple or livermush
Elk medallions in red wine reduction
Muscadine grapes
Cheeseburger at backyard barbecue
Open-face turkey sandwich
Chicago deep dish pizza

Cobb salad
Peach pie a la mode
Macaroni and cheese with Tillamook sharp cheddar
Root beer float

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred

Here's some food for thought. See below for a posting from the site "A Very Good Taste"--listing the 100 things every omnivore should try once in their life.

As instructed to, I've bolded the items I've tried. I'm missing 26 items, pretty good for a gal not even in her 30's, right? But guess I've got some eating work ahead of me!

The most interesting thing? And to show the power of the Internet and the blogosphere? As quoted from Slashfood: "Two weeks later the list has exploded into a major internet meme. Andrew has more than 500 comments on the post and the Omnivore's Hundred has 170,000 Google results to its name. Something about the idea of being able to quantify your eating experiences seems to really resonate with foodies. The list is completely subjective (I'm sure mine would have been quite different - I can't imagine not including New York pizza, tacos al pastor or key lime pie), but quite interesting nonetheless."

Great point! What else would your list include? For me, I can't imagine a list without some of my favorite Chinese foods. Whole steamed fish. Salt and pepper shrimp (with the heads on!) Roasted duck--after seeing it hanging in the window. A bowl of rice noodle soup with braised beef on a cold day. Yum.

And I couldn't imagine the list without all of my San Francisco favorites. A fresh heirloom tomato salad-- tomatoes fresh off the vine. A sandwich, made with ingredients gathered from Acme bread, Cow Girl Creamery and Boccalone Salumeria. Or fresh Hog Island Oysters with a glass of champagne. A pizza from Pizzeria Delfina. Margaritas with Nick's Crispy Tacos (yes, done Nick's way!) Oh. And a scope of salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery.

In any case! Without further delay. The list.

The Omnivore’s Hundred
Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison

2. Nettle tea

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile

6. Black pudding

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi

15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper

27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi

34. Sauerkraut

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects

43. Phaal

44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin

64. Currywurst

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. Roadkill

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie

78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong

80. Bellini

81. Tom yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Gadget Invasion and the Staples

So as I continue to wonder about all those kitchen gadgets out there, two things happened today. The first was that I received an email advertising a sale on ‘colorful gadgets’. Hmmm, really? Not just gadgets now. COLORFUL gadgets. Really people? Here are two of the samples:

"The easy way to poach eggs—cute cups stand upright for serving and won't retain odors, stains or flavors. Food-grade silicone."

Really? You need a special bowl to poach eggs? OH PLEASE!

"Easily transfer chopped ingredients into a pan or prep bowl. Polystyrene cutting surface and easy-grip handle."

Really? A 'chop and serve' board? I don't know about that. My plain old cutting board seems to work just fine.

Then I came across this article in the San Francisco Chronicle “Kitchen Essentials: Our 10 Favorite Tools”. How interesting that someone else is thinking about kitchen gadgets. But this time, important ones. Do you agree with the list? Disagree? Items on this list I don’t have?

- A chinois (I’ve got a sifter, good enough for me)
- Digital scale
- Silpat (although I’ve been wanting one!)
- Mandoline (yea, sadly, this home chef simply cuts it all with her chef’s knife!)
- Instant read thermometer

What’s missing on this list for you? When are the gadgets necessary and when do they begin to get ridiculous?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Foodie Regret and Foodie Excitement

All week, I’ve been regretting not purchasing those beautiful squash blossoms I saw at the Farmer’s Market last Saturday. And every day, I sat wondering if they were gone from the markets and if I had missed my chance this season. I was nearly in tears when I thought about it. Why didn’t I just spend those few dollars on the squash blossoms?

This last Saturday, I went to the Farmer’s Market with some friends. I met up with my friend Vanessa and her daughter Chloe (Chloe’s first San Francisco Farmer’s Market trip!), as well as my friend Charissa (in town from Washington DC) and her family.

Beautiful Chloe--Yensa was able to capture the best photos of her!

We had a great time…but for the first 15 min or so, I was distracted. I hadn’t seen Charissa in months, but all I could think about were my squash blossoms (sorry dear!) I bee-lined for the farm stand that sold them the week prior (well, as soon as we all had our Blue Bottle Coffee in hand!) I pushed and shoved (well, not shoved too hard, but I was aggressive!), making my way to the back of the market. I could feel my heart starting to race as I realized in mere moments, I could come to realize that my chance had passed until next season. And then from a distance…there it was. The yellow blossom! Success! Thankfully they still had some. Not quite as gorgeous as the week prior, but still squash blossoms nonetheless. Phew.

After I bought the blossoms, I was able to calm down a little bit. And relax. And enjoy the sunny day. I could finally spend time talking to my friends, and pointing to all of the other wonderful things the market had to offer. Charissa’s sister bought some lovely rose sugar. I’ve got to get my hands on that! Next time. I can see the potential already. Perhaps a rose infused ice cream. Or perhaps sprinkled on top of some shortbread cookies (maybe that Michelle Obama shortbread cookie?) Or even more simple? Just over some fresh strawberries! Yum! Next time. For sure.

And oh! Yensa, the budding photographer, was snapping away the entire morning. She’s super talented, and captured some really beautiful shots from the day.

I’m lucky she snapped this one of me below (I don’t even know what her initial target was, but I’m so happy she caught this moment!) I was so excited to have my squash blossoms, I couldn’t even wait until I got home to use them in a salad. Pure foodie excitement. Pure foodie porn.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Help This Blogger Out!

I was rushing off to brunch with some friends this Sunday. And yes, I was running late. But as I was hurrying to brunch, this light pole ad caught my eye:

"The Expiration Date: It's Just a Guideline Right?"

Those of you that know me well, will know why even in my hurry, I stopped to take a photo.

First, I'm a slow eater. I will frequently still have my lunch on my desk at 2 or 3 or even 4 pm. (Yes! Even if I started at noon!)

On top of that? There's been some discussion amongst friends, on the topic of my attention to food safety. Yes. This foodie has a hard time throwing away food. (Why waste good food when you might eat it tomorrow?) I always have a full fridge, but before you grab anything, you should probably ask me how long it's been in there.

Now don't get too freaked out. I've never (knock on wood) had food poisoning. And I would never serve anything questionable to anyone! It really isn't that bad. I just tend to save things. I'm always good about putting left overs in air tight containers, and wrapping things with plastic wrap. I just maybe hang onto it for a little longer than I should.

It's even been brought up that I should probably go to a food safety class. Just to freak me out a bit about all of the possible germs and bacterias out there.

It's hard though! I try not to buy more food than I know I can eat. The hardest part is factoring in the unplanned dinners and lunches out. But I like to cook. I get ambitious on the weekends with how much cooking I'm going to be able to do in the week. And when I see a new ingredient (aka my recent squash blossom obsession), I have to buy it! I've gotten better. I'm better at planning. And I'm definitely more aware of how long I've had something in my refrigerator for (even dating items!). But yes, I could probably still do better.

In any case. I saw this ad, and literally stopped in my tracks and laughed out loud. It was great! Expiration dates ARE just guidelines to me! You can always add at least five dates and be good. Especially if it hasn't been opened yet! Then you've got weeks.

My only question now? What was this ad for? I didn't capture the entire sign, and am now kind of curious to know what this ad was for. Can anyone help? Does anyone walk by this or recognize it? It was somewhere along Union Street (a part of town I actually don't frequent.)

Oh well. Maybe it was just a sign from above. Just for me.

How Far Is Too Far?

I'm a city girl through and through. I pride myself in knowing all about San Francisco...the sights, sounds, people. If there's an argument about which city is best, I will jump in and fight to prove that SF is best.

As a city gal, I don't have a car, and find myself a little limited when it comes to how far I can venture. Sure, there's BART and trains and ferries, etc. but when you take into consideration the schedules, the longer commute time, the pain of carrying everything I'm traveling with in a bag on my shoulder, and the 'characters' I tend to run into, I limit my excursions out of the city.

So last week, when my friend Michelle invited me to a Friends & Family meal at Miss Pearl's Jam House, a relatively high profile new restaurant with Chef Joey Altman at the helm, I had to think twice about going. But only because, the restaurant is in Oakland.

I'm usually not a gal to pass up any opportunity, much less the opportunity to check out a new restaurant. But a Friday night trek to Oakland? I wasn't so sure. I've heard New Yorkers talk like this...why would a Manhattan dweller trek unnecessarily to Brooklyn?

For those of you not familiar with the Bay Area, you won't know really just how silly this is. Oakland is only maybe 30 min away. Probably even closer and quicker without traffic. Literally just across a bridge. And it's true, a lot of people that work in SF do live in Oakland, or even further. And in terms of public transportation, the ferry really isn't a bad way to go.

Of course, in the end, I said yes. I'm always up for an adventure, even if it was an adventure in Oakland. I was told that taking the ferry was easy. People commuted on it all the time, and there was even a bar on board!

I think the day of the Big Trek, everyone I talked to heard about my plans for the night. And of course each time I asked someone if they had taken the ferry to Oakland, I'd get a look. And when I asked my friend Bryan, a fellow city dweller, if he'd want to join us, I got the 'Why would I go to Oakland?'

I wonder, if it was any other restaurant project, would they have gotten this type of turn out from San Francisco residents? It helped that there was a local 'celebrity chef' at the helm (what does that term mean anymore?) Michael Bauer recently reviewed Camino, a restaurant in Oakland. He gave it 3 stars. The reaction from many of my friends? Huh. Never heard of it. Or oh, never made the trip out there. Yea. Sad but true. Probably a fine restaurant. Will I ever check it out? Probably not. Any future treks will be saved for Chez Panisse or The Cheese Board, or even a strawberry cupcake at Love At First Bite.

The most delicious fresh strawberry cupcakes ever!

When there's an abundance of restaurants right here in your own city, why leave? Why bother looking up Ferry schedules and BART maps? All for a dinner? Better be a damn good dinner. Isn't it easier to just get there on your own timeline, and at the end of the meal, hop out and catch a cab home? I know. Very snobby of this San Franciscian.

In the end?

A fun meal. The decor wasn't really my cup of tea, but the food was good, Chef Joey Altman was a awesome and totally working the room (always great to see a chef talking to the customers!) and I even had the pleasant surprise of running into some other industry friends that had made the trek.

Me and the gals at the bar before dinner! Who couldn't have fun with this group?

Oh. And the ferry ride? I missed the boat. I ended up taking BART and a cab to get there.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hello? Is this thing on?

I started this blog for a lot of reasons. First, it's so hard to keep in touch with friends and family. And just because I don't regularly talk to or see all of them, it doesn't mean I don't want to share all of my silly adventures with them. This was an easy way to do that.

I also wanted to remember all of the adventures and amazing experiences I'm lucky enough to have. I tend to be forgetful (just ask my sister), and don't want to look back one day and not remember what my life was like. This is almost like a diary, although more thoughtful than any diary I would personally keep since this is for public consumption. I guess I figured, with all those blogs out there, if they can all do it, why not me?

It's also been a great outlet for me to use to do some creative writing. I read and write things all day long for work, but this is different. I can say whatever I want to, and what's on my mind, and better yet, it's all in my own voice! For good or bad, it's written with pretty little editing and are my honest thoughts and opinions. And whether it's really funny or not, it's funny to me, and at least brings a smile to my face each time I go back and re-read any part of it.

The last reason, and it might seem silly, is that I've got lots of random thoughts, ideas, and questions in my head. There just isn't enough time in the day for me to think through it all. And there really aren't enough people for me to pose all of my questions to. This has been a great way to propose my questions and dilemmas to the world.

Which leads me to my question. Is anyone reading?

I've gotten a few emails referencing a post here or there, or a few friends have mentioned my blog in passing. One time, someone even repeated/quoted something I had said back to me. It was very 'When Harry Met Sally', and I was speechless. Unbelievable how happy that made me.

Aside from a few people who do post comments online, I don't actually know if anyone's out there reading. Is everyone just comment shy? Why? Am I not resonating with anyone? Have my posts and questions sparked any conversations? (I just KNOW you were all asking everyone "Which Commodity Board They'd Represent" at that last cocktail party!)

I guess bottom line? I don't care if anyone's tuning in. This has been a relaxing and therapeutic outlet for me. I'm really enjoying crafting my posts and better documenting my life and thoughts. I think I'll be able to look back fondly on my silly little blog. With or without any readers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Off to Sea

You know the saying "Try something that scares you every day?" Well, I did. And not only did I, but I have found a new love and appreciation for something new! I'm talking about sea kayaking!

It's like me...heading out into the great big sea

I know, I know. It's not really that scary. I mean, if you really want to talk scary, let's talk about sky diving, now that was scary. But kayaking was scary in a different way. Looking out into the water, seeing the darkness below me and all the waves!

I was out there with two friends, both had been before. When we had first started talking about kayaking, I assumed there would be one 2 person boat, and one 1 person boat. And that I would not going to be alone. Not the case. I was quickly corrected and told we’d each be in our own boat. Gulp.

Then we get there. We get our life vests. We make our way down to the beach, get assigned a boat, and just as I'm waiting for some sort of tutorial or instructional portion, the guy says, "Ok, have fun out there". That was it. Umm, not ok with me. I needed more. I walked up to the guy that had just waved us off and I timidly told him “it was my first time'”, and that I wanted to see if he had any tips.

Kayak Expert Guy: Get past those initial big waves. Paddle left to go right. Paddle right to go left. And just get past those waves. Have fun!

Me: Umm, that's all?

Kayak Expert Guy: Yup! Just get past those waves!!

Me: How?

Kayak Expert Guy: Paddle left to go right and paddle right to go left!

Yea. That's all. I think I left our little conversation slightly more nervous. Big wave? Yikes.

Thank goodness for kind (and strong) friends. Bowman and Bahram were kind enough to take pitty on this scardey cat and they gave me the push I needed to get past that big wave. It was the most glorious experience!! The sense of freedom and just being out in the sea. It didn't hurt that we were in San Diego where the weather and water was perfect. We even saw a leopard shark!

Not my photo...but the leopard shark looked similar to this one!

Back up here in SF now, and as I started looking into places to kayak, I started seeing information on wet suites. Umm, no thank you! What's the fun of being out there if you're not warm? And not tipping each other over into the refreshing water? (Although I have to admit, I told the boys there was a 'No Tip' rule with me...this was still my first time after all!) It just woldn't be the same if you weren't reaching in and throwing kelp at each other. And having paddle splash wars! There's nothing refreshing, nor clean, about the water up here!

I came across this list of “10 Favorite Places to Kayak” on the IgoUgo site (also see below for the list). Guess I’ve got my list of vacation spots to hit!!

Me with my friends Bahram and Bowman post my first kayaking experience!

From UgoIgo:

We'd guess that most travelers spend more time Kayaking plane tickets than kayaking rivers and oceans. But the paddle events underway in Beijing reminded us of all the IgoUgo members who have dipped their boats into the world's most beautiful waters. Here are some of their picks for the best places to make waves.

1. Boulder City, Nevada: Black Canyon rivergirl88 says: "Below Hoover Dam sits a great little secret called Black Canyon. It is gaining in popularity due to its towering cliffs, emerald-green waters, and numerous hot springs. You can kayak into sea caves, paddle onto sandy beaches for lunch, or just watch for bighorn sheep high on the cliffs. All 745 feet of the Hoover Dam tower above you...what a view!"

2. Vieques, Puerto Rico: Mosquito Bay stomps says: "It really was an out-of-this-world experience. Adding to the glow beneath us was the glow in the sky. Looking up at the stars, we could see the entire band of the Milky Way stretching across the center of the sky. As soon as we got out of our kayaks, all of us were planning our next trip to Vieques and its fairy-dust-sprinkled bioluminescent bay."

3. Baja California, Mexico: Ensenada Caves ernieg23 says: "The most exciting moment of the trip had to be our wild kayaking through Ensenada's caves and into the ocean, where we encountered many amazing sites. A gigantic sea lion attacking a 4-foot-long tuna at about 20 feet from us was a frightening rush that turned into excitement."

4. Halong Bay, Vietnam: Surprising Cave shammiyap says: "Kayaking is a nice way to explore the secluded places, and it helps you get really close-even touch the stone. Kayak under the grottos to another heaven on earth; you will feel that life is so peaceful at once!"

5. Moorea, French Polynesia: Les Tipaniers aunty says: "Make sure you drive to Les Tipaniers resort, park outside, and walk through to the beach. Here you can hire a kayak and paddle across to two nearby motus (little islands). In between the two motus is a beautiful lagoon with crystal-clear water and lots of sea life."

6. Kauai, Hawaii: Hanalei River Idler says: "We pass under a low bridge and are now traveling through the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, home to many endangered birds such as black-necked stilts and Hawaiian geese. In fact, the best way to observe the birds of the wetlands is by boat, as access onto the refuge itself is restricted. Silently we glide along the placid river, going at my easy pace. Occasionally an oar splashes, rousting a cattle egret in a flapping flash of white."

7. Seward, Alaska: Fox Island Virtually There says: "This was an easy kayaking excursion that included instruction and a 3-hour guided wilderness paddle around Fox Island, one of the world's finest paddling locations and an interesting mix of temperate rain forest; sculpted cliffs; protected coves; and long, pebbled beaches."

8. Chiloé Island, Chile: Dead Tree Valley amylya says: "Kayaking at the Dead Tree Valley is a unique and astonishing experience and a must when visiting Chiloé. To be alone in a kayak surrounded by dead trees; wetlands; and rare, endemic birds that stay quiet while you photograph them makes you feel transported in time. Four different rivers give you alternative landscapes to enjoy. All calm water."

9. Phi Phi Le Island, Thailand: Maya Bay Ben the Grate says: "Eventually you'll come to a bay opening to your left. Enter this bay. Here in the entrance is some of the finest and most colorful snorkeling I've ever experienced. In fact, the fish were so prolific that when I dropped a cracker in the water it literally boiled and fish jumped INTO my kayak!"

10. Maui, Hawaii: La Perouse Bay Cattleya says: "Unbelievably wonderful experience-green sea turtles come up for air right beside you. Fish in all the colors of the rainbow and beautiful coral formations exist in this marine reserve area that is only accessible by kayak."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Who would you represent?

For those of you that don't know me very well, I'm a food dork. Yup. Self proclaimed and proud. That's not a big secret--anyone that's followed this blog for a little bit knows that! And one of my favorite questions for people is “If you had to represent one commodity board, which would it be?”

The first question I usually get back is “What’s a commodity board?”

The definition is: A physical substance, such as food, grains, and metals, which is interchangeable with another product of the same type, and which investors buy or sell, usually through futures contracts.

I've made many of my friends play this game. Here are some of the answers I've received:
Vanessa: Chocolate
Celeste: Banana
Michelle: Coffee
Brandon: Wine (or wine grapes!)
Jonathan: Fennel (which has since been changed/updated to Cardamom)
Bahram: Almonds (now salmon)
Marcus: Tomato

What would mine be you ask?? Oh loyal readers, must you even ask? That’s easy!

The glorious pig!

My dream would be to represent the pork council! I could test recipes and talk about pork chops, pork belly, pork tenderloin, and well, of course BACON all day long. What could be better? I could finally make my bacon cake--topped of course with none other than bacon ice cream. Yum!

One of the most gorgeous cookbooks out there...even though I have yet to make something from it, it's still one of my favorites

One of my all time favorite photos: Me and a bronze pig. Thanks Mel for sharing in my love for the swine.

More Gadgets!

I go back and forth. Are there too many fancy gadgets out there? I mean, do real chefs laugh at some of the products out on the market these days? Who needs a stainless steel finger guard? Or a round tea bag squeezer? I mean, come on! Isn't a really good chef's knife really all you need?

Well, as posted in the New York Times earlier today, Design Within Reach is opening a houseware store--DWR: Tools for Living. Hmmm. How do you think it's going to do? Do we really need more clutter and stuff in our kitchens?

Just as I was doubting the success of this venture, I skimmed the list of gadgets they'd have. Pretty cute stuff. A few caught my eye...and then one made me really excited. A stoneware herb pot.

Isn't it great? I mean, if I could have fresh herbs growing right in my kitchen, that would be awesome!

Then it hit me. I have that. No, it's not that fancy. And it's not in a pretty stone pot. And it doesn't look quite as green and healthy (but that's my own lack of a green thumb!) What happened to just the good old fashioned herb plant? Oh yea. I guess it's kind of the same huh?
My basil plant from my dad

Not as healthy as when I first got it...but considering it's been a few months and it's still alive, I think I'm making progress. Mint's next on the docket!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's Too Simple?

I'm all for local. I'm all for simple. I'm all for tasting the ingredients as fresh as they can be and as natural as they can be. But this? At a fine dining restaurant? Maybe too much...

A few days ago, Eater SF broke news that a guest had ordered the nectarine dessert at Zuni Cafe. And what did they get? Well, for $8, they got a Blossom Bluff Orchards nectarine on a plate.

The Nectarine in Question

The comments to the initial posting were the best. A few days later, Zuni responded (as posted on EaterSF):

Yikes! If the customer who posted this photo was charged $8.00 for the nectarine it was definitely an error. We would love the customer to contact us with their receipt and we would be more than happy to refund the entire amount for the fruit. Checking our menus, the Blossom Bluff Summer Grand nectarine was on our dessert menu from July 29-31st for $4.50. The only $8.00 item on the menu was a pot de crème, listed directly above it. Our computers were programmed with those prices so we are not sure how it happened, but the customer should not have been charged $8.

For what it’s worth, we have many customers who ask for plain fruit instead of a prepared dessert. We try to offer something ripe and delicious, at a price which covers our food cost plus overhead (and overhead actually dwarfs food costs). If the guest would like the fruit cut up or sweetened, we are happy to do so.

We are sorry this happened but we are glad to have found out about it. We agree an $8.00 nectarine is ridiculous!

What are your thoughts? An innocent error? Something they're self correcting now? Either would you feel about getting just a plain nectarine at a restaurant? Isn't part of the fun of going out to eat is ordering food that isn't easily made at home? Simple is still always welcome in my mind, but this might be crossing the line to too simple.

Sam IS Smokin

Seriously. Sam Mason is hot. Anyone in NYC next Wed? Wish I could be there to check out this BBQ event (as posted on Grub Street.)

The last two times I've been to NYC, I've gone and checked out Tailor Restaurant. Just to give it some love. Had the pleasure of meeting Marshall behind the bar there...check out the cocktails. Eben Freeman is amazing.

And the best bread I've ever had. Seriously. Leave it to a pastry chef turned executive chef to have fantastic bread.

Go Sam!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sticky Sticky

I have a fun group of foodie friends that I hang with. We’re in a little Supper Club, and every few months, we gather in someone’s home and make dinner. It started one night when we were all talking about how we always go and check out the latest and greatest restaurant in town, but wouldn’t it actually be fun to get together, in someone’s house, and make dinner and hang out for the night? Well, at least that was the initial plan.

After our first Supper Club meeting, my friend Chris heard about it and invited us all over to his house for Supper Club. His house in Half Moon Bay. Since then, we’ve been to Lake Tahoe (Supper Club goes to 7,000 Feet), and Palm Springs (Supper Club Goes to the Heat!) This past weekend, we was our Palm Springs Supper Club. One of my favorite Supper Clubs to date. One of our Supper Club members, Eric, made his famous Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not really a pudding at all…but oh so good. He was kind enough to disclose the recipe, so for all you dedicated readers, please check out the recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding (courtesy of Sunset magazine!)

So. Team Supper Club. Where to next?

Sticky Toffee in the ramekins cooling

Chef reaches over to grab a little piece...taste test!

Final product! Beautiful!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Toffee Sauce (see below for recipe!)
Crème fraîche or sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter and flour six 8-ounce ramekins.
2. In a small bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over dates and baking soda and stir.
3. In another bowl, with a mixer set on medium-high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and eggs until blended, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and date mixture just until combined. Pour mixture evenly into ramekins and set on a baking sheet.
4. Bake until tops spring back when lightly pressed in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. Let puddings cool about 20 minutes.
5. Run a paring knife around inside of each ramekin. Invert a dessert plate over each and, holding both tightly together, invert again to unmold pudding. Turn puddings right side up and drizzle with a little toffee sauce. Top with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and serve with remaining sauce.

Makes 6 servings

Toffee Sauce

In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan over medium-high heat, bring 3/4 cup whipping cream, 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Makes 1 cup

The Ink's Not Even Dry...

from my last post, when I boarded yet another plane to head home. Just when I was hoping for a drama free trip, we had delay after delay. Finally boarding the plane almost two hours later, all I wanted to do was get home.

The first bummer was that even though it was a short flight, I was hoping to sit next to one of the friends that I was traveling with. There was five of us, and yet we all sat apart from each other. Not a big deal. We had just spent the whole weekend together after all!

Well, I had a window seat, and when Mr. Middle Seat approached, I thought I had a normal neighbor for once. Not so lucky. Mr. Middle Seat had back problems. The second the plane took off and we didn't have to wear our seat belts anymore, he got up, and hunched over. Essentially facing towards the back of the plane. He was like that the entire flight. While I felt bad for him for experiencing back pain, it was a little odd.

On top of that? I didn't even notice until my friend Paul pointed it out to me. He had little sequins on his shirt. Isn't that no longer hip for day-time wear? Was it ever really ok to wear sequins out in broad day light?

Sigh. Nothing that affected me. But again, just not normal. Further proof that there are a lot of weird people out there!

Personal Space...On a Plane

It should almost be a separate blog. The weird passengers I come across on planes. Sure, I travel more than the average person maybe, but do I come across more weird people than the norm? Feels like it. What about me just attracts these weirdos?? Why is it, that even when my eyes are CLOSED, does the lady next to me feel like she can talk to me? And not really even talk to me, but to ask me why the guy sitting across the aisle from us can be on his 'blueberry' (yes, she meant BlackBerry) while we were in the air? Sigh.

Someday, I’m going to write a Flying 101: Do’s and Don’ts. Have annoying flying stories of your own? Send ‘em my way and I’ll be sure to include in the book!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympic Spirit

I haven’t been too excited about the Olympics this year. I’m not really sure why. I think I’ve been a bit pessimistic about how China’s going to do being in the spotlight. Was there enough infrastructure in place? What about all of the politics? And all the protests. On top of that, I’m kind of more of a Winter Olympics gal. The ice skating, skiing, hockey, all a little bit more appealing than track and field, judo and weightlifting to me.

I haven’t been paying too much attention, and found myself even unable to name many athletes beyond Michael Phelps and the members of the Redeem Team that I know from my NBA days. Well, boy, was I in for a surprise.

I missed Opening Ceremonies and didn’t even really intend to watch them. But when I saw my sister and friends the morning after, all everyone could talk about was how amazing the ceremonies were. And how there were 2008 drummers, and what about the performers, dancers, costumes, lighting, Bird’s Nest arena, and torch lighting ceremony and on and on and on.

Thanks to my dad (who taped the Opening Ceremonies since I still don't have TiVo!), I was able to tune in. A few days late, but better late than never. I learned that China wasn’t even awarded the 2008 Olympics until 2001—only giving them seven short years to prepare. Amazing. The number of performers and the technological advances that were made in that time is unreal. I think this was the most amazing Opening Ceremonies I have ever seen in my life. There were times when they were using amazing technology (did you see the size of that LCD screen??)…and then the times when they weren’t (those blocks were all manipulated by people?? WOW!)

As I was watching, I found myself in complete awe of everything. Literally each and every performance had my full, uninterrupted attention. Come on, how often does that happen these days in a world where there are always too many things vying for your attention? I couldn’t believe how organized and the amount of practice and hard work that went into this. Each and every performance was very thoughtful, educational, and poignant.

Even all of the commercials! For those of you watching on TiVo, you’re missing out! The commercials are brilliant. And yes, a tad cheesy, but they’re cute! (Who is doing ads for Coke these days? I think they’ve still got it!) Think of all of the money that as put into this!

Yes, I’m American. But I’m also Chinese. And not one to always be proud of all of the decisions my native China makes, as I was watching, I found myself swelling up with pride. And with that, I find myself thinking about my mom. She would have been fascinated by all of this and could have really appreciated all of the thought and artistry of these opening ceremonies! I wish she was here so I could be watching this with her. I know we’d be admiring and commenting on all of the costumes, the dancers, the music, the art, the colors.

Me and Mom with a cup of coffee. Another one of the things we enjoyed frequently together!

I’ve come full circle. I’ve gone from feeling bleh about the Olympics to being totally engaged. Did you know there’s synchronized diving? AMAZING! And the swimming competitions have been so awesome to watch. Not to mention…umm, go USA men’s gymnastics team! I’m finding myself on the edge of my seat, and staying up way too late each night, just to tune in (and ok, the fact that these athletes have pretty amazing bodies is reason enough to tune in!) In any case, now it's time to show some USA pride, time to cheer on the team. And if you’re ever in doubt for which country to route for behind the USA? I’d say Go China!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sacred Foods and Food Sins

There was a posting on one of the blogs I peruse recently, and it basically talked about a women meeting someone that didn't like garlic. And, naturally, she was appalled. It lead her to the question, "What are your sacred foods"? The ones that you love and as she put it, that if your romantic partner doesn't like, you begin questioning them??

I know. It sounds harsh. I mean, not like someone just because there's one thing they don't eat? Well, it got me thinking. Am I one of those people? I'd like to say I wasn't. That yes, food is important to me, but no food item could be a 'deal breaker'. That true love could pass this test. Then I got to thinking.

She's onto something. Someone that doesn't like garlic? I wouldn't trust 'em! I use garlic in half the dishes I make!

And what about vegetarians? Well, while that's something I'll tolerate when it comes to friendship (sorry vegetarian friends reading, just being honest!), but for my husband to-be? Yea, I don't think so. How else could we grill steaks on hot summer nights? And what about my mom's yummy roast beef recipe? Or my dad's killer pork chops?

They're great, and don't get me wrong, I love vegetables, but all veggie all the time?

And then there's bacon. And really, all things pork. Yea, I couldn't be with someone that didn't love pork. Pork chops, pork belly, pork tenderloin (as my sister would say, now I'm beginning to sound like Bubba from Forest Gump and his obsession for all things shrimp). But seriously. Nothing beats the smell of bacon in the morning. I want to be with someone that's not only going to crave some themselves, but be willing to get up and make it for me!

Then I remembered this guy I dated for a little while a few years ago. He was deathly allergic to dairy. Which meant not only could he not eat the obvious things, like cheese, and milk, and yogurt, and ummm, my personal favorite, ICE CREAM, but there was also some chemical or ingredient in dairy that he was allergic to. SO. That meant he also couldn't eat most cured meats. Ummm. Did he not know that I could live on salumi, cheese and wine?? Yea, needless to say, that relationship ended. Of course our failing relationship wasn't all to be blamed on this dairy allergy, but it sure didn't help.

NONE OF THIS! Don't even think about it. He couldn't eat any of it!

So. Maybe this fellow blogger is right? Maybe there are deal breakers for me when it comes to food. Or let's be more positive. Maybe I just haven't found the right person? And that some pork hating, garlic despising, vegetarian is out there waiting for me? Nah! I don't think so!
What are your food deal breakers?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Where I Wish I Was...

My Childhood House

A "Miracle" Dinner...In the Dark

Would You Dine in the Dark??

And when I say dark, I mean pitch black! Yes it’s true! I was lucky enough to experience this courtesy of my friend Jennifer…and San Francisco Citysearch editor Patrick. I have to admit, when I first heard about it, I was a little skeptical. Not seeing my food? Hmmm. Isn’t part of the eating experience that initial sight of the food? Not sure I’d like it. Don't we eat first with our eyes and then our taste buds? But, never a gal to turn down a new experience…I said yes and joined in.

We started off with drinks at Jade Bar where we met the rest of our dining companions. A smallish group of about 30 of us imbibed in some champagne and chatted as we prepared for dinner.

We were then lead around the corner to Opaque Restaurant for our dining experience. When I was first told about this dinner, I had in my head, the idea that there’d be some light some where or some how. Kind of like your room at night when the lights are all out. It’s dark, but there are still traces of light. I thought our eyes would adjust and we’d be able to see shadow and at least maneuver through the dinner without being completely ‘blind’. I was wrong. Whey they say ‘dark’, they literally mean pitch black. There is NO light coming through, and your eyes NEVER get adjusted to anything.

Truly, it was PITCH BLACK the entire meal!

All of the servers are legally blind, and our server was AWESOME. She totally made our experience. It was a challenge getting to the table, and feeling our way around the table. It is so amazing how much your other senses are heightened when you can’t see. It definitely took a little while to get adjusted (and I don’t really think we ever got fully adjusted!) I was taught to feel my way to the corner of the table, and that’s where service came from. I’d take the glass or plate, and pass it over to Jennifer, and then go back to the corner and then feel for my plate or glass. It was bizarre!!

When given the option of red or white wine, our table was brave enough to opt for the red wine, and the restaurant was smart enough to use steam less glasses. Luckily there was no spillage and we all ended up coming out of there without stains or major messes on ourselves! We were also lucky enough to taste a new ginger liqueur—which I loved!

Our amuse bouche was roasted beets with a herbed goat cheese. It was on a small spoon on our plate and after feeling my way to it, I ate it with my hands. It seemed like the easiest thing to do—and without actually seeing the food, I found myself really wanting to touch everything. I didn’t use my utensils once. Those of you that know me know that I love eating with my fingers anyways, so dining in the dark seemed like the perfect excuse to eat with my fingers!

Our first plate was brought out and we were given the option of being old what was on it, or we could taste first, and then get the descriptions after. Of course, we opted for that. We were an adventurous bunch! Plate one had:

- Grilled Chicken Skewers Satay with Peanut Sauce
- Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto Fritters
- Potato Cup with Mushroom Duxelle and Grated Parmesan
- English Cucumber Rounds with Smoked Salmon, Pickled Ginger, Wasabi Aioli
- Spicy Tuna Tartare on Black Sesame Won Ton Crisps

We all found the skewers and aligned it to 6 o'clock. From there, we tasted clock-wise. It helped us all talk about the same items at the same time. My favorite? Those potato cups! Yum!

Then. We all had the opportunity to taste Miracle Fruit! For those of you that haven’t heard about it, read this article from the New York Times. Simply, it’s a fruit from Africa, that changes the way you taste things! Anything bitter or sour, becomes sweet! Here’s a photo of the fruit:

There has been such high demand for this fruit that most people aren’t even able to get a hold of it. Our dinner host had to get us Miracle Fruit tablets…and we were even lucky to have them!

In any case, we put the tablets in our mouth, and then plate #2 came. Same deal as before—we tasted everything first, and then found out what we had tasted.

- Tabasco sauce
- Sliced Green Apple
- Sliced Meyer Lemon
- Pickled Ginger on a spoon
- Dried cranberries
- Red Grapefruit
- Belgian Endive
- Goat Cheese on a Spoon
- Taste of Guinness

It was amazing. The lemon, felt like an orange wedge, and was the sweetest thing I have ever tasted. I found myself sucking on it, and wanting more. The Guinness was completely different too—much sweeter, and almost even a little flat. I found that the Miracle Fruit effect lasted about 30 minutes for me. The dessert of Limoncello and lemon-lime sorbet was slowly starting to have that sour taste.

This experience made me appreciate not only my vision, but the complete experience I am lucky enough to go through each and every time I eat. The joy of eating definitely comes from all of the senses uniting—seeing, smelling, touching, listening (yes!), and of course tasting. It just wouldn’t be complete without any one part of it for me.

All in all, this was a really great experience...and a meal filled with laughter (in the dark!)

Happy Saturday!

This was one of my first weekends at home in San Francisco in a long time. I did what I love most—I headed to the Farmer’s Market! My sister Michelle, and I met up with two of my friends, Jason and Eric. We kicked off the morning with my favorite Blue Bottle Coffee. What is my coffee of choice? If y’ll really must know, I am a New Orleans style coffee fan. It’s Blue Bottle iced coffee with roasted French chicory, sugar and milk. All perfectly mixed. Not too sweet, just perfect. Yum yum yum. Seriously. Even this morning, which was a little overcast and a tinny bit cold, I opted for my iced New Orleans coffee.

From there, we began perusing the stalls. Eric was a man on a mission and bee-lined for a few different stalls. Michelle saw some gorgeous strawberries and headed there. Meanwhile, Jason and I kind of hung back and took it all in.

I saw a lot of familiar faces. In fact, ran into my friends Kevin and Alli and their new baby Charley! (Hmmm, wonder if this was Charley’s first Farmer’s Market outing?) We saw some familiar chef faces too. We saw chefs (and other fans) congratulating Chef Daniel Patterson from Coi Restaurant on his recent four star review by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer.

Sadly, this was also the night the famous Rubicon was closing. And we even had a Drew Nieporent sighting along with Chef Stuart Brioza and the Rubicon crew. Made me a little sad just seeing them…to think, I’ve never been to Rubicon! Sigh. Guess I never will. We’ll have to anxiously wait and see where Stuart and Nicole end up!

Here are some of the things we saw…

Some amazing bell peppers...look at all of the colors!

I took this photo just for my friend Bahram...shout out to East Palo Alto!

Squash Blossoms! I almost bought them, but wasn’t exactly sure how to prepare them, and the petals looked so delicate! I also knew I wasn’t eating at home tonight nor tomorrow, so hesitated and ended up not buying them. My friend Josh later told me, “You could have simply eaten them with olive oil, sea salt and mixed greens. They’re like candy!!” Sigh. My biggest regret of the day was not buying them!

Look at these beautiful hydrangeas!
They were huge and colorful and gorgeous!

We also watched Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto Restaurant and Boccalone fame do a cooking demo, but since we were late comers, we ended up sitting in the back on the ground (as Michelle and I shared a Prather Ranch breakfast sandwich...yum!) Chris demonstrated how to make Sharyln melon with Boccalone Lardo with torn basils, and was great at getting the crowd involved. Super interactive, and we could hear the crowd laughing and getting really into it. The bite sized sample was tasted was really good too. Chris did a great job, but we had more fun gabbing in the back with his wife Tatiana.

All in all, a fun and relaxing Saturday morning. A great reminder of just how great this city is and how lucky I am. Oh yea! And yes! As promised, I came home with some pretty flowers of my own. Not as amazing as those hydrangeas we saw earlier, but still pretty.

Dahlias of my very own to enjoy this week!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pack Your Bags!

Yay! The end of this year is going to be a busy one for this gal...

I'm packing my bags and will be spending Thanksgiving in...AUSTRALIA!

It's my first trip there, so I'm taking suggestions for Sydney, Melbourne and the Hamilton Islands. You know me, always looking to be connected with some fun local people...I need the insider's tips on food, wine, sights and sounds! My friend Shaye and I are traveling together and I can't wait to hang out with her and for us to explore a new city together. Should be amazing...lots of photos and memories for us to reflect on when we're old.

And then, right after Christmas...I'm heading to HONG KONG!

Hitting up one of my all time favorite cities with my family. I can't wait. And best of all, we'll get to spend New Year's Eve and my sister's birthday there! This is one of my favorite eating cities of all time, the food there is amazing. From the nice restaurants to the street food. It's all good! Don't believe me? Hop on a plane and join me! Happy to play tour guide for friends! It's one of the things I enjoy most, sharing things, places, and foods I love with people that can appreciate it.

Too bad I don't have a lot of time off (nor a lot of money...) Wouldn't it be great to travel to New Zealand, Northern Australia, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, or some other fantastic location over on that side of the world for the month in between?

But still. What a lucky gal I be able to visit not only one of my favorite places in the world, but to check out a new one too!