Saturday, October 31, 2009

Home Sweet Home

I'm about a week into my new home. And I love it. New surroundings. New routines. Having a space to call my own. I'm still adjusting.

There's more space than I'm use to. There's no overhead lightening, and so until I get some lamps, it's a tad darker than I'm use to. Still getting use to the windows and curtains, and working on getting the rooms the perfect temperature. There are still boxes everywhere--and I'm still tripping over myself a little bit. My morning routine isn't really figured out yet. And I'm still getting use to my new way of getting to work.

I'm adjusting to being a homeowner. And already noticing that I'm taking better care of my home. I'm cleaning obsessively. Being careful not to drag furniture on the hardwood floors. And getting use to being responsible for dragging out the garbage.

But what have I quickly adjusted to? My new kitchen.



A bit of a difference, right? I think this kitchen is just about all I needed to see to be convinced that this was the home for me. The kitchen is probably the most important room in my home. And while I was fine with my old kitchen for more than five years, and while I NEVER let it stop me from making something, I was excited for the upgrade.

I'm looking forward to many wonderful meals in my new home. Many new cooking 'experiments' in my new kitchen. And many nights sitting around the table sharing stories and laughter with friends.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Favorite: Flowers and Cupcakes!

Within 18 hours of moving, I had unpacked my entire kitchen. And had cooked breakfast, made cupcakes, and an awesome dinner.

I thought this simple picture of the yummy cupcakes and welcome flowers (thanks Nancy!) was just absolutely perfect. It's warm. It's welcoming. It's where I want to be! Around that table, enjoying a cupcake with a friend (and well, who are we kidding, a glass of champagne too!)

Here's hoping for many many MANY more good times in my new home. And lots more vases of flowers and lots more cupcakes!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Favorite: My New Hood

Moving day is today, and I can't wait to hang out in Dolores Park in my new hood!! Here's looking forward to exploring a new neighborhood and my new surroundings!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kindred Spirits

What does it mean to be kindred spirits? Here’s one example of what it means to me…

I was recently at dinner with some good friends, and friends of theirs. I had only met these people once, and really didn’t know them.

We talked about an upcoming trip to New York I had planned. What was the first thing out of the mouth of one of their friends? It wasn’t “Oh, what are you doing out there?” Or not even “What are your plans while out there?” Instead? It was, “New York? Oh! Are you getting your restaurant list together?

Our conversation continued. It wasn’t “Which sites are you going to see?” And not “What are you most excited about?”

But rather…”Which is better for late night? Blue Ribbon or Spotted Pig?” And “Were you able to get a resy at KO?”

These people were excited when I rattled off my list of Brooklyn hot spots, and even more excited when I told them the weekend we were out there happened to be the Manhattan Cocktail Classic weekend!

The world continues to be food obsessed. But it’s not always a genuine love nor interest. But there are times when you meet people like you. People like Eric and Brandon. That’s when you know. That there are people who can share my same enthusiasm and my same passion. These kindred spirits are the types of friends that have found their way into my life. I’m a pretty lucky gal to have so many kindred spirits out there in the world.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Favorite: Bacon Soap

My friends know me so well.
Loved receiving this smoky treat in the mail a few weeks ago! Thanks Matt!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

To Kindle or Not To Kindle

The people that know me best, often make fun of me and my lack of knowledge of pop culture. I turn my head when the conversation gets to celebrities and popular TV shows. I often don’t pay attention to the news outside of the Food and Travel sections of my newspaper. And I’ve been accused of reading only food-related books. Ok, so there’s some truth to that. Or at least lately.

Well, I’m also a little slow with technology. And I’ve got to hear about something a few times before I really investigate it. I looked down on the idea of Facebook at first. I was never into Myspace or Friendster, so I thought, why start now? (My views on it have DRASTICALLY changed, and it’s the best way I stay in touch with friends and share information with them. I can’t live without it now.) Bing? I think the first time I heard it, I ignored the conversation. I finally looked into it after I heard about it a few more times. (And don’t get me started on Google Wave--what is that???)

Well, same goes for the kindle. What’s a kindle? It’s a new piece of technology. Essentially, it’s an electronic book. It allows you to download books and to read them electronically on this small (and thin) piece of equipment. You can turn pages, scroll down, and carry around a light weight piece of equipment rather than a thousand page book. And when you’re done? You reload the next book onto it. Handy and practical in theory I suppose.

But me? I hate it. To me, it takes away everything that is so special about books and about reading. About seeing the cover art. Looking at the back to see the excerpt and what others have said about it. The part where you flip through it and take in that new book smell. About actually holding something. Something that a writer has poured his or her soul into. An actual book is personal. A kindle? Not so much.

I understand the need for it. It sure is practical for travelers, or people who read a lot, and don’t have the luxury of doing it in the comforts of their own home. And I suppose the more people reading, the better. And I guess this is what all those music lovers probably thought when they saw the demise of the CD and the influx of the iPod into every community and into every single person’s hands. The music industry changed forever. Royalties, album art, the end of records stores. I’m not sure I’m ready to see the Kindle take over the world. I still want to get lost in a bookstore on a rainy Saturday. And still look over in my living room and see my collection of beloved books. Call me old fashioned, but I’m just not ready to have another machine in my life.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Where I Wish I Was...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Wonders of the Bay: A Day Trip

The Bay Area is an amazing place. I don’t think there’s any other place quite like it. A few weekends ago, my good friends Evan and Sarah texted me. “Hog Island, tomorrow?” My response? “YES!”

Hog Island is an oyster farm, located in the very small town of Marshall, outside of Tomales Bay. We’d been talking about going up there, and it’s one of those places, that I still can’t believe, took me so long to get to. A short two hours outside of San Francisco, and we were there. In a whole different world. In fact, 20 min after leaving San Francisco, we were already in a whole different world. Passing small communities like Kentfield and Ross. Driving through rural fields, and windy roads. Noticing the change in temperature—from the fog over the Golden Gate Bridge, to the warmth again as we neared Petaluma, and then to the cooler air through the redwoods. Then. We saw water.

The view from our picnic bench and the view as we were driving home with the fog rolling in

Before you knew it, we had a picnic table claimed, was looking out onto the beautiful bay, surrounded by other picnic’ers like us (many of whom had actually planned a whole day trip and had come fully prepared and stocked with amazing picnics.) Us? Well, let’s just say it was our first time. We did things simply. A simple bottle of rose. And a few dozen oysters. We were set. Shucking away. Laughing. Talking. Enjoying the fresh air, sun and surroundings. By then, we had all forgotten that just a few short hours ago we were in the middle of San Francisco, surrounded by tall buildings, cars, and thousands of people.

This day trip reminded me just how easy it is to get out of the city. And how much the area has to offer. You don’t have to go far to be a world away. So. What are we doing next weekend??

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Favorite: Pot of Coffee

Recently, when having brunch at Starbelly, this french press coffee pot caught my eye.

I love the bright orange color (I love orange!), and the retro look to it too (which is usually not my style.) I'd love to wake up to this pot of coffee every day...maybe in my new home!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Smallest Big City

San Francisco isn't large in terms of area. But when it comes to population? Latest figures show that there are more than 808,000 people living in our little 7x7 square mile city. It often surprises me that for as small, geographically, as the city is, and as much as I'm out, I don't run into more people. I guess it's the abundance of restaurants, bars, and things going on around the city. There's so much to do at any given time! Or maybe because there really is almost one million people here. Or maybe it's that little thing that is a continuous theme in my life- timing.

Well, recently, I've been running into people. Lots of people. And all in my little Russian Hill neighborhood. That same little neighborhood I'm leaving in just a matter of weeks.

From running into people in a small neighborhood restaurant, to seeing friends drive by as I'm enjoying a glass of wine at night, to see a friend from work walking by the restaurant I'm dining in. When did this start happening? I’m leaving a neighborhood where I’m surrounded by friends. Friends around the corner from me, just down Polk, just up Hyde, and just over on Gough. And umm. Not to mention my sister and uncle minutes away. And I’m just talking about my close friends. I am surrounded.

This is my comfort zone. But just as I’m getting comfortable in my little neighborhood (some may say I’ve been living in a small bubble), it’s time to leave. And life must go on. But I have a feeling all these run-in’s has been the universe’s way of asking me "You sure you wanna move?" "You really want to leave Russian Hill?"

Yes. I am ready to move. I am ready for a new ‘bubble’. I am ready for new run-in’s (already have had one in my neighborhood—one day as I was there checking out the apartment for one last walk through, I ran into an acquaintance grabbing a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop.) It’s time for new surroundings. To start thinking about who’s in my new neighborhood. And preparing my self for new run-in’s and pleasant surprises.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Home Sweet Home

A phrase we've all heard before. But what does it actually mean to you? Me? My home is an important place to me. A place that's more than just the four walls around me. A place that I feel safe. My retreat. The place my family and friends can congregate in. A place to relax and to be myself.

I've live in my apartment for more than five years. It's been my home. My retreat after bad days, bad break-ups, and the death of my mom. It's also been a place of celebrations. Christmas trees, birthdays, dinner parties, girlfriend's over gossiping, romantic dinners.

I am excited, proud, scared and nervous to announce...

I bought a condo. And escrow closed. I officially own a little piece of San Francisco. On a beautiful tree lined street, I will have a place to of my own to call home.

So! As my entire life savings has been invested into this little place, I'm sure the months to follow will include many more home cooked meals. And many more nights when I'll have friends over and we will be staying IN!

Here's to the next chapter of my that includes trips to hardware stores, saving pennies for the mortgage, DIY projects, and many new memories in my new home.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Favorite: Pretty Flowers for a Special Day

Today's a great day. And I'll be able to share exactly why soon. But in the meantime, here are some gorgeous flowers for this gorgeous day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meal of the Month: September

Where has the month gone? September was a whirlwind. I had a busy schedule, and was in the midst of some pretty intense stuff. It sucked the life out of me. All the while, in hopes of my pending move, I slowly began to prepare myself. How did I do that? I ate in my neighborhood every chance I got. I’m not kidding. Every opportunity I had, I made friends come to me. I planned out ‘last meals’ at all of my favorite neighborhood spots. Many places that I hadn’t even gone to in a long time—but now was the time.

There was brunch at Rex Café with two old friends—that have known me since junior high school! An awesome meal at Pesce (really, can’t they PLEASE share that special limencello recipe with me?), a night of burgers and beer at Polkers, delicious Thai food at Little Thai with two neighborhood friends, sushi at Okoze (get the hamachi collar!) and an amazing night of ZA pizza and wine at Café Meuse after with my girls (remind me that two for one ladies night isn’t always a good idea!)

I also manage to venture out of the hood still (how could I not?) Five Happiness for dinner with my dad, Contigo for yummy tapas (and to scope out my new hood!), brunch at Foreign Cinema to celebrate a friend’s birthday, a little trek to Pizzeria Delfina on a warm Sunday night, tapas at Esperpento (in the dark! The restaurant lost electricity while we were there!) and catching up with my friends JT and Troy, and a delicious meal at A16 with some great girlfriends.

There was the day of seafood with Sarah, Evan, Eric and Brandon—a trip up to Hog Island for fresh oysters, followed by a craving for crab, so dinner at PPQ.

No meal of the month in any of those meals? Nope. Not yet.

There were lots of meals at home, lots of leftovers, lots of simple meals whipped up at the last minute trying to use what ever I had in my pantry, and lots of friends over for wine (hey, I’d prefer to drink the wine rather than move the wine.) There was a mellow night at a friend’s house where dinner was a simple salad—and oh, watching “Sound of Music” with her little 3 year old (who is the BIGGEST three year old I have ever seen. I LOVE him!)

There was the amazing meal at Canteen, followed by nibbles and cocktails at Nopa (hey, a friend was in town from NYC, I had to take her out and show her around!) We had the most delicious tomato gazpacho ever at Canteen (although it was more like a consume to me), followed by an eggplant dish that I am still craving. And followed by Nopa’s awesome flatbread which was sweet summer corn, pancetta and arugula (or rocket as my friends Down Under might say) that night. YUM.

There was the special night when the restaurant that my friend is executive chef at opened. Out the Door Bush Street was the latest to join the Charles Phan empire, and my friend Grace is at the helm. The nibbles were AMAZING. I’m pretty sure I had more than my fair share of the bacon marmalade quiche, a few too many shu mai’s, and that every bite was better than the last. My second OTD experience of the month? Brunch. Yes people. Breakfast, Charles Phan (and Grace!) style. AMAZING. Poached eggs over a braised beef brisket and potatoes, fried eggs with pate, steamed pork buns, and the best Vietnamese iced coffee. But no. Sorry Grace. It was a top contender, but not meal of the month.

There was the simple meal at Beretta. Where we didn’t even order pizza. And we only shared a small handful of the small plates. And I was exhausted. And still needed to get home to pack for a trip to the East Coast. But it was after I had signed all of the papers for my new home, and had just finished my final walk through. And it was Beretta. And it was with two good friends. And I was on a high. That was definitely one of my meal of the month highlights (and umm, why have I not ordered the panzanella salad before??)

But no. Also not the meal of the month. Why? Because this month, two of my favorite people in the world got married. And my September Meal of the Month was not one meal, but three meals. To kick off the wedding festivities, my friend Jonathan and I met down in the Peninsula to hang out with Bahram the Thursday night before his wedding. We’re a little bit of the Three Musketeers—friends from college and we share a special friendship. And Jonathan, the man marrying Bahram in just two more days, was a surprise to Bahram that Thursday night, Bahram didn't expect to see him until Friday.

The three of us, who hadn’t all been together since April, had a mellow night. Dinner at a local hot spot in Palo Alto, NOLA. We enjoyed the warm summer air, and enjoyed catching up with each other. It was one of those special nights. When three friends were able to catch up, make fun of each other, laugh, and prepare one of own as he ‘grew up’ and headed into married life.

That next night? A very special rehearsal dinner that I was privileged to be a part of. At a quaint restaurant in Carmel, Cassanova was the site of the dinner the night before the big day. And watching the happy couple as they were surrounded by their friends and families was so special to see, and to be a part of. The food and wine was delicious. But the night itself was more spectacular. I was in the midst of a love fest. And was finally meeting all of these very important people that I had heard so much about.

The happy couple at the rehersal dinner

To top it all off? The wedding. The wedding itself was magical. These two people that had known each other for almost 10 years, were being joined together. And I couldn’t think of two people more perfect for each other. After the ceremony and reception? The first dance. And amazingly hilarious and surprisingly staged first dance. Followed by…not dinner, but MORE DANCING! The entire room was on the dance floor! Friends, family, children. All on the dance floor dancing up a storm. All before dinner. Now that’s my kind of a party! When we did sit down to dinner? The most wonderful and delicious Persian feast. My favorite Persian rice, and a number of other dishes that afterwards, I swore I would learn to make.

The Three Musketeers

As usual, my Meal of the Month was so much more than just a meal. To me, it’s hard to single out the food without taking into account the surroundings, the company, and the overall experience. My trio of Meals of the Month were all about that. And was special to me because of the people I shared it with. I wish Bahram and Kristin a lifetime of happiness together…and a lifetime of amazing Meals of the Months that they’ll share…hopefully some more with me.