Thursday, December 31, 2009

Meal of the Month: December

As 2009 comes to an end, I think about my December meals. What a treat to have had so many delicious meals. As I fully settled into my new neighborhood, many of my meals were local!

Two great experiences at Frances, Osha Thai food (after an afternoon of decorating my Christmas tree!), margaritas and nibbles at Velvet Cantina after a VERY long Saturday of working, an awesome meal with an awesome girlfriend at Monk’s Kettle (which lead to LOTS of drinks at the Phoenix!), a Mission food and drink crawl which included Range and Bar Tartine, and well, yes, of course, a number of meals at Beretta.

There was also dinners at Fritz, Delarosa, Poleng Lounge, an extra special dinner at Fish & Farm with my favorite 2 little boys, and nibbles (and Manhattans) at Postrio after an successful day of post-Christmas shopping.

And then there were lots of dinners at home. Well, not necessarily my home. There was a yummy night getting our fingers nice and dirty and eating some crabs at my pal Defne’s house. And then the yummy pasta night at Tatiana’s house with her and Easton (followed by lots of wine and good TV). And then dinner at my friend Adam’s sweet pad in Danville (which was followed by some trampolining in the rain…umm, that's a whole other story!)

But the Meal of the Month? Well, how could it not be my Christmas dinners? Oh yes. Dinners. Plural. Did I mention there was more than one? Like Thanksgiving, I have good fortune of having two meals that were very Christmasy. One with my good friend’s family and one with my own.

I’m very lucky to love my family, but the family that you choose, or have the good luck of meeting, can also be very special. It’s wonderful to have people in your life that have welcomed you into their life. And into their homes. An early Christmasy dinner with the Mo, Matt, Adam, Brendan and Jim sure reminded me how lucky I was to have these people in my life. To be invited into their home time and time again, to be able to take part in the precious family time that they all get together, and to be able to cook, drink wine, and eat with them was a treat.

Photos courtesy of Adam

Just a short day later, Christmas with my own family. In my own home. It was great to be able to have them all over for such a special meal. My first Christmas in my own home. It might have been my first Christmas in my home, but it certainly wasn't a new menu. We ate our traditional Christmas dinner--prime rib, Chinese broccoli, bok choy, baked potatoes, yams...and our secret recipe gravy! YUM! No matter what, Christmas won't be Christmas until I share this meal with my loved ones.

Photos courtesy of Michelle

To my friends and family--thanks for a yummy December!! Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I don't always do the whole resolution thing. But this year, I've been doing a lot of thinking. About this past year, next year, and this next decade. What do I have in store for myself? What do I want? And what do I want to change?

In no particular order, here are some things I want to focus on:

Put down the BlackBerry
I'm addicted. It's practically attached to my hand and it never leaves my side. Why? I have a friend Jonathan, who when ever he is with you, he puts away his phone. And he makes a point not to take phone calls. I'm not saying I'll go completely 180 degrees, but there is a time and a place for the BlackBerry. I'm gonna walk away more.

Make healthier choices
Whether it’s choosing the healthier option when looking at the menu at dinner, or choosing the hilly route home, or skipping that glass of wine and opting for the early morning Pilates class instead, I’m going to make healthier choices.

Letting go
Sometimes, I hold on too much. I have grudges. It's not healthy. Either those people are no longer in my life, or I just have to let go of it and not let them bother me. I'm likely the only one being bothered by it at all! Why hang on to these negative feelings? So to those old friends, frustrating colleagues, family members I've lost respect for and ex boyfriends, I'm letting go.

Go solo
I like being around people. I like having company. I like talking to friends. I like bouncing ideas off of someone else. I like sharing my thoughts and feelings. But I'm with people a lot. It wouldn't be a bad thing for me to do more things alone. Eat out. Go for a hike. Sit in a coffee shop. Go to a bar. One of the best memories I have, is from sitting alone in a coffee shop in Paris while my friend Matt was at work. Having those days alone and wandering the city solo was incredible. Why wait for Paris? Why not do it here too?

Pilates pilates pilates!
Every single time I do Pilates, I feel instantly better. I'm thinking about the next time I can go to a class before the session's even over! So why is it so hard for me to stick to a routine? (Hmm, likely because very little in my life is routine...) I'm going to stick to it next year. Really schedule it in-and let very few things get in the way of it.

Clear the clutter
When I moved this last year, I threw away a lot of things. But even so, I still have a lot of things. And I need to continue to focus on clearing the clutter. I'm going to just keep what is important. And if something's old, worn, or no longer needed, I'm tossing it (or donating it!) Before I bring anything else into my house, I'm going to think about it and make sure it is something I absolutely need and want to have. Here's to less stuff and more empty space.

Pen to paper
I love writing. And it’s a stress reliever for me. But I find that I’m not setting aside enough time to write. I have these thoughts, or ideas of posts I want to write, and what do I need to do? Set aside time. I need to put PEN TO PAPER. So. Here’s hoping for more posts in 2010.

Take more risks
I’m generally not a huge risk taker (ok, so there have been a handful of exceptions). I tend to play it safe. Why play it safe though? Life’s short. And we don’t know how much time we all have. And who knows? That one risk may lead to other opportunities, or another unexpected surprise.

Be a photog
I love photos. And I generally take my camera with me most every where I go. But I often forget to take it out and USE it. Or I’m too embarrassed to stop everyone in the middle of what they’re doing to take a photo. Well. No more. I love photos. And I want to capture it all. Not only the foods I eat, and the places I go, but my friends, and the people I’m with. Time goes by so quickly, and at the end of the day, all of those really amazing moments will forever remain in my memory, but why not try and capture them on ‘film’ as well? So watch out friends. You hang around me, and you’re bound to get your picture taken.

Tell my family and friends that I love them more often
Ok. This is dumb, but Brittany Murphy got me thinking about this. Her very sudden death made me remember, our time here is short. And you never know what is going to happen. Do the people you love know how you feel about them? I know my family and friends knows how much I love them, but could it hurt to say it more often? We need to remember that if we loose our tempers, or we get angry, or if we disagree on something, we need to put it past us. So to my dad, sister, and friends, I LOVE YOU!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Guest food blogging...

Hola, this is Adam from CyclingTeacherGuy and I’m here guest blogging for Jamie. It was easy to choose a theme for the guest blog, food… I hope you enjoy...

Eating when you travel can be a bit tumultuous at times, especially when it’s your first time in a new country. With that being said, so many new experiences can develop throughout a trip. My favorites from Peru are below…

Lima is considered the gastronomical capital of South America, and they’re known for their ceviche and pisco sours, mmmm. We were told the ceviche was so fresh, it was caught only hours before, the flavor can attest to their claim. Anthony Bourdain did a feature on Peru and their cuisine, even having lunch at Segundo Muelle where the photos below were taken during our lunch. Next time you're in Lima, this restaurant is a must visit!

As in any large city, different neighborhoods can offer so much variety and character. The Baranco neighborhood just south of Miraflores was very special. Having been revitalized in recent years, we had to check out the food, markets and local bars to see for ourselves.

A great local restaurant, found us having goat cheese pizzas and lots of wine. Isidro was our waiter, and it turns out he was 85 years old and has never traveled outside of Peru. Our Spanish is above average, and his English was non-existent, so the communication came from our end. After four bottles of wine, and a few extra pizzas to get us home, we promised to come back for a visit.

When the wine spills in Baranco, just tie a napkin around the stem...

Isidro, 85 and full of character...

Breakfast in other countries is always somewhat of a toss up. Yogurt is the norm in Europe, eggs and lots of meat in Germany, so what does Peru serve at first light.

Well, bread and coffee. Some hotels had jam or butter, but it was always just bread and coffee. It took us about four to five of these bread rolls to fill up, some protein would have been nice, but the coffee was excellent!

We bought bags of bread from this local woman...

I had to include this non-food photo. Pisac was a great little town just over the hill from Cusco, and it's a must see for any traveler headed to Peru.

A huge thanks to Jamie for letting me guest blog on Adventures in SF!

The Holiday Season

It's been a busy few weeks and months, so while I wish I had gotten into the Christmas spirit a tad bit earlier, the past few weeks finally did put me into the holiday spirit.

It started with getting a Christmas tree! Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit quite like the smell of pine. My sister and good friend Tarlan (who's practically another sister to me) were with me for this outing/adventure. We had a great lazy Saturday picking up the tree and then spending the afternoon decorating it.

A few weeks later, I had an amazing outing ice skating with my sister and two of my favorite little boys. And even though it had been YEARS since I had been on skates, it all came right back to me. It was also so incredible to see these two boys learning to skate. Adorable!

Then there was a weekend of baking. Lots of baking. Let's just say my friends received lots and lots of yummy cookies and goodies for the holidays.

Then what really kicked it into high gear? An amazing night at a good friend's family's house for a pre Christmas dinner. It was so special to be invited into this wonderful family's home for such a special meal. We started with a blind taste taste of some of Napa's finest Cabernets. (My personal fav? The Silver Oak 2004--YUM! Thanks Jim!)

Then we kicked off Christmas Eve with a beautiful hike on Mt. Wanda. It was such a perfect leisurely hike and I loved having a chance to chit chat one on one with Mo, Matt, Adam and B-dog all along the hike. I hope they'll invite me back and we can continue our Christmas tradition.

Post hike? One of the most delicious brunches ever! Complete with marmalade made from fruit from a tree that was more than 100 years old in Roquebrune. The blue table cloth almost transported me right to France.

Christmas Eve, my cousins and sister came over, and we spent hours like little kids, decorating cookies! It was nice to be able to spend some time with my cousins--we caught up on each other's lives, chatted about our grandparents and reminisced together about the 'good old days'.

What became obvious to me this holiday? Christmas isn't about just one day. It's about the entire holiday season. And finding the chance to spend time with all of your loved ones through many days. I'm thankful to have so many amazing family and friends in my life. And thankful that I was able to see so many of them this holiday season.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

When Life Gives You Lemons

Preserve them!!

On my preserving kick, and in an effort to make home-made Christmas presents, I decided to take a big bag of lemons I recently got off my dad's tree, and put them to good use!

I had the concept in my head, and then over dinner with some friends, my friend Evan talked me through the process. A quick search on the internet and I found a super simple 'recipe' from courtesy of Paula Wolfert.

I wasn't exactly sure how many lemons it would take to fill a jar...and as usual with me, I was kind of winging it. I may have squished them down a little too much. Oh well. My kitchen is my laboratory, but methods are certainly not very scientific. I planned to take notes and continue to tweak for future batches. In the meantime, thanks to @mando66, I had some perfect size mason jars. (See? Another Twitter miracle!)

With the number of lemons I had, I yielded 4 jars in my first batch. And they were beautiful! The bright yellow made these the perfect holiday gift.

Now comes the hard part. Waiting a few weeks until I can open a jar and taste. Oh. And deciding who's going to get the remaining 3 jars.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday Favorite: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!! Hoping you're spending the day relaxing, sleeping in, eating, drinking, and being merry with lots of loved ones around you.

Here's a cute (and crocked) picture of my Christmas tree in my living room taken by one of my favorite little budding photographers. Thanks Nate for the pic!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 12--A Village

Ok. Quite possibly, my FAVORITE collection of ornaments. The little village people! They're these little wooden characters--one is holding an old fashioned oil lamp, one has a little broom, one's got a little Christmas tree--and they're all just so cute!

I remember when we were little, my sister and I would play with the little people before we hung up the ornaments. And we'd make up little stories and play out the lives of these little guys in their village. To this day, these are still some of my absolute favorite ornaments and they bring back so many happy memories.

Surprise Christmas Present--Guest Blogging

What a treat. I've never been asked to be a guest blogger before! So when I was at my friend's for our annual holiday get together, I was pleasantly surprised when his brother, and my friend, Adam asked me to guest post on his blog. And by guest blog, he meant right then and there!

So while he was in the shower, the fastest shower in the world, I was put to the test. It's a little bit of pressure to write something on someone else's blog. And in so little time! But here it is--on his blog: Cycling Teacher Guy.

So thanks to Adam for letting me write a little something on his blog. Hopefully I'll be able to convince him to write a few guests posts for me too! He's always out hiking and riding, and has great stories from his classroom and travels. I'm jealous of the things he gets to see and do. So maybe he'll share some of it with all of us here!

Hoping you're all enjoying the holiday season with your friends and family!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 11--Home is Where the Heart Is

One of my simpler ornaments. But in it's simplicity is it's beauty.

After all, aren't the holidays all about family, friends, and loved ones?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 10--Precious Moments

Growing up, we loved the Precious Moments 'dolls'. Not so much the actual dolls or figurines, but the images. The characters were always in these beautiful settings and they were just so cute. As we grew older, I think we realized that there was a not so subtle religious message. It didn't matter. The messages were simple, and in the end, religious or not, still made you feel warm and fuzzy.

One of the ornaments I still put up on my tree is this one. Here are the two different sides to it. They're almost scenes out of an old animation. Like some of my favorite Christmas cartoons, Charlie Brown's Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. These are all childhood favorites that make the holiday season what it is to me. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without the little Precious Moments ornament...and Charlie Brown's Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 9--San Francisco Treat

It's no secret. I'm a pretty huge San Francisco fan. It really is a unique, amazing and special city. So it would only seem appropriate to have an ornament on my tree that was a shout out or nod to my city.

I especially love this ornament because it reminds me of all of those mornings when I took the cable car to work! Ding ding!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 8--Ice Cream!

Hmm. Maybe my ice cream obsession started a lot longer ago than I realized? For sure. Hands down. One of the favorite ornaments in the collection--the pink, sparkly ice cream cone:

One of the first things my sister asked when I told her our dad had dropped off the box of ornaments was "Was the ice cream cone ornament in there??" And I excitedly told her--YES!

I've written lots and lots about ice cream. Both about making it and eating it. But maybe what I didn't realize, was just how important of role it played in my childhood. Really, something as simple as ice cream, was something special for my sister and I. Whether a trip to the local Baskin Robbins (hey, we didn't have Humphry Slocombe then!), or to the ice cream counter inside of the Thrifty, or even a simple scope of ice cream at home, it was always a treat. Always time for us to just be kids. To relax. To talk. And to spend time with each other and mom and dad.

I think I'm going to have to go make some ice cream for Christmas. Until then, I'm going to look at one of my favorite ornaments hanging on my tree!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 7--Go Ags

I'm a proud to be an Aggie--and am often thinking back to the fun times I had at UC Davis. So many of my amazing friends are people I met there and I have so many good memories and have taken away so many incredible experiences.

These two ornaments are special to me because they make me think of UC Davis:

It's a bit dark, and so hard to see, but the little teddy bear has a little UCD on his shirt, and the other ball is just a beautiful blue and gold. I love looking at these ornaments and thinking back to all of the wonderful memories I have from UC Davis. Go Ags!

Friday, December 18, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 6--Stained Glass

I think those of you that know me (and even those that don't but that may have been following this blog could guess), I'm not much of a church goer. But regardless, a few of my favorite ornaments from our family collection, are these.

Beautiful stained glass 'windows' that you can appreciate for their artistic nature, no matter how you feel about church and religion. These are just gorgeous works of art. And when you position them just right on the tree, and you can get one of the lights to shine through it, they're perfect.

Friday Favorite: Picture Perfect

One of my favorite pictures of all times.

My dad took this photo when he was on a cruise through Alaska. I'm not even really sure which port or which town this photo was taken in. But I just love it. It's very Anne of Green Gables...and oh so perfect. Well, except for the "Shop This Way" sign.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 5--Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

Angels. They're so peaceful and serene. How could you not like them? Angels seem especially prevalent around the holidays, and so it seems only appropriate that I've got more than my fair share of angel ornaments.

The small white one I love (even though it's missing it's right arm!), because it's made out of pasta! So cute. One of my favorite ornaments from growing up.

The other two angels? Relatively new additions to my collection are the second two angels. The middle one, a beautiful shade of dark green (not great for the photo against the Christmas tree green!), was a gift from a very special friend. Practically an older sister to me--my own personal angel looking after me.

The last one angel on my tree is really cute. She's almost a chime, the little legs (which you can barely see in the photo) move around, and make the cutest little noise. Sadly, her little wings broke so she's in the process of being fixed.

Here's hoping for a peaceful Christmas holiday with my angels looking after me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 4-- The Little People

A tree can't be a tree without Santa! Our version? This little guy:

A cute Mr. and Mrs. Claus, kind of doing this silly little dance thing. Perhaps not one of my favorite ornaments, but as I was looking through them, I realized this was definitely one that I vividly remember from my childhood.

These two were others in that same boat:

Cute and festive. And again, ornaments that seem to have been in the family and on our tree since I can remember. I realized that while these may not have been my favorites, but I would be sad if I didn't have these on my tree.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 3--An Aussie Christmas

To be honest, I'm not really sure this was meant to be an ornament. The little 'hands' of the cute koala kind of snap tight, and is made to 'hold' onto something. This is almost just a little holiday decoration. But nevermind that, we always considered this an ornament and would secure it to one of the strong branches.

Since my trip to Australia last year, this little ornament has meant even more to me. It reminds me of all of the fun I had while down in Australia, and just how weird it was that it was warm and the sun was shining in December! We saw Santa Claus on the beach--in red shorts. Not a sight this San Franciscan is use to seeing! I can't wait to get this koala up on my tree this year. It'll give me visions of warm, sunny, Aussie beaches. And oh yea, that Santa in the shorts.

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 2--Purrrr

Purrrr. One year when we were little, my parents took us to Michael's Craft store, and we were allowed to pick out a few plain white ceramic ornaments. Then, we took them home, and went at them with our paints.

Here's what I came up with:

I wish I could remember exactly which year we pained this. Not bad, eh? Just don't look too closely. A permanent fixture on my tree now. I love this ornament.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

12 Days of Christmas: Day 1--A Christmas Baker

I've been thinking about Christmas and the holidays, and all of the activity that leads up to the holidays. From decorating your home, to purchasing presents, to baking, to preparing for that big meal, there's a lot that goes on.

It's also a time of reflection for me. And one of my favorite childhood moments around the holidays is decorating the Christmas tree. My sister and I would eagerly go through the box of ornaments, and play the game of "Oh! Do you remember this one??" We had this music box that looks like a present (green box with a red bow)--and it would play holiday songs on loop. We'd always have that playing while we were decorating our tree. (And usually be kind of tired of the music by the end of that first day!)

As we grew up and moved out on our own, I began to collect my own ornaments. I was never one of those people that could keep their tree simple--so no one color ornaments, or theme. I always look at those trees with envy. They're so gorgeous. So simple. So classy. They seem to come straight out of the pages of a design magazine.

But sigh. That is not my tree. Like my personality, my tree is a little all over the place. However, every ornament on my tree has special meaning to me. I can tell you who gave me each ornament, or where I bought each one.

SO. I'm kicking off my 12 Days of Christmas. Where each day I'll feature a different one of my special Christmas tree ornaments. Some are new, and others are from our family collection. To start us off, one of my favorite 'new' ornaments. A little baker! So cute! Enjoy the rest of the ornaments coming your way!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Favorite: Cuppa Coffee

This mug is so distinct. From Tsui Wah cafe in Hong Kong--the perfect cup of milky Hong Kong style coffee. Every time we visit Hong Kong, you can bet that there are at least a few meals consumed at Tsui Wah.

This mug was always an image that my mom, dad, sister, and I loved. I will forever see this and think of my family and the many cups of coffee we've consumed together over those old tables.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Meal of the Month: November

November was an insane month. Settling into a new apartment, a big trip to New York, and oh. Not one, but TWO Thanksgiving Feasts. I don’t even think I can even choose one meal for the month.

So this month, we’re picking two meals. One from the New York eats, and the other, from everything else.

Let’s begin with New York. Meals at the new hot spots, Locande Verde and the Breslin, old favorites such as Blue Ribbon Bakery, Momofuku Saam (ok, not once, but twice) and Harrison. There was also a special cup of coffee and cookie at Jake’s, as well as the most delicious compost cookie at Milk Bar. BBQ at Hill Country BBQ with a dear friend, and lots ‘meals’ at Pegu Club, Employees Only, Summit Bar and PDT.

Every experience in New York was amazing. So how do you even pick? Well, without a doubt, my Meal of the Month-NY would have to be the meal I had at 10 Downing. It was a special experience because my friend had recently moved from San Francisco to New York to take over the reigns here. So seeing Chef Jonnatan Leiva was already a special treat! He had barely settled into a new apartment, and had only been out there a matter of weeks. His own menu was JUST in place. And I’d say we were amongst the first of his friends to experience his menu out there.

From the awesome server we had, to bringing us tastes of virtually every dish on the menu. We should have had 10 friends with us—because we were STUFFED. There were too many favorites to list—but some true highlights? The cauliflower soup, Spanish boquerones and olives, grilled quail (with pomegranate, cornbread ‘French toast’, onion jam), and veal breast and sweetbreads.

Such amazing flavors. And beautiful presentations. The table next to us literally started to glare at us each time we had another plate dropped on our table. I think they were jealous. The best part of the meal? Being able to be there to support Jonny and to hang out with him after! THANK YOU JONNY!

The rest of the month. Lots of meals at home. A simple Sunday curry chicken night with Tarlan, pork chop night and lots of catching up with Sabine, a belated birthday steak night dinner for Defne, and lots and LOTS of wine and champagne with lots and lots of friends. A great lunch with dad and sis which ended with a detour to Park Chalet for some afternoon drinks.

There was checking out the local eats. Checking out a nearby sushi spot with Sarah and Evan, Eric’s Chinese food with Jim, Starbelly with Matt, Beretta with Lisa and Tarlan, and Starbelly with Wendy. Let’s not forget the ‘meal’ Lisa, Tim and I made of a little cheese and a lot of bourbon (oh vey.My head still hurts from that ‘meal’!)

I had an awesome Sunday night with Grace and Lien—checking out the new SPQR menu. Must have been some unofficial industry night there that evening, because it sure was a who’s who of the SF food business! We enjoyed the MOST delicious chicken liver, local sardines, eggs ‘al diavolo’, and spaghetti nero with Dungeness crab.

There were TWO amazing meals at Incanto. One where I was able to bring and share the experience with two friends that had never been before. Where we splurged with a yummy veal-rabbit terrina, an amazing chestnut soup, sardines, parsnip and bone marrow ravioli, pork shoulder and much much more.

That meal was amazing. And not enough for me. So I returned later that month, but this time for the Leg of Beast meal! With a group in hand, and a very excited 13 year old boy that was ready to celebrate his birthday with brains, we returned to Incanto.

In addition to the amazing beef shank, we had roasted marrow bones (that were the length of my forearm!), sardines, the most most MOST amazing pasta alla chitarra (so simple, but delicious with Boccalone lard, egg yolk, scallions and garlic chips), the biggest porcini mushroom I have ever see in my life (wrapped in bacon!), nervetti with cannellini beans, and again, much more. (Including the MOST delicious chocolate blood panna cotta!)

And then, there was Thanksgiving. I have to say, my TWO Thanksgivings would have to be my non-New York Meal of the Month. Thanksgiving is always a special time of year for me. It's near my mom' birthday--so it's near and dear to my heart. And for my family, Thanksgiving is of course about family and friends--but it's also about food. I wrote about Thanksgiving already (click here if you want more yummy details.)

Thanks to my family and friends, and to all of the chefs out there that feed me SO well in November!!