Saturday, 31 January 2009

Best Tastes 2009

all the sashimi (but especially the transcendental fatty tuna) at Kaygetsu

foie gras mousse with onion confit paired with the 2005 Far Niente Dolce, on Far Niente's cabernet release day

a rhubarb napoleon--with strawberry ice cream, zinfandel sauce, homemade rhubarb jam, fried custard, and pickled rhubarbs at Farmhouse Inn in Forestville.

The Sky is Falling! (chocolate on chocolate) and Irish Car Bomb flavors of cupcakes at Sift Cupcakery in Napa.

the red macaroon with green tea mousse in the middle at Kaygetsu

Ahi with sambal aioli, caviar and garlic croutons at Elements in Napa (I just found out that Elements closed! Damn.)

everything we've had off the brunch menu at Redd in Napa: housemade pork steamed buns, shrimp and pork potstickers, buttermilk pancakes with apple compote and maple syrup, and the lobster club with avocado and bacon.

the fabulous homemade bread from Joy of Eating Cafe in Vallejo. It made long workdays in Vallejo almost bearable.

the seared foie gras on toasted brioche with roasted rhubarb and caramelized sauternes at Farmhouse Inn.

Senorita bread from Star Bread, a Filipino bakery in Vallejo. My dear co-workers introduced me to this gem, of which I'm forever grateful.

the pistachio "fistkili" baklava at Real Doner in Petaluma. Best baklava ever. And that's all I have to say about that slice o' heaven.

the so-simple-it-will-blow-your-mind appetizer on Bottega's summer menu: house-cured prosciutto with slivers of melons. I know, I know, the oldest Italian appie in the book, but this one was different: the perfect bite requires not only the prosciutto/melon bit but also a piece of the accompanying savory fritter and chilled melon soup.

fresh raw beef with a raw quail egg on top in a spicy yukke sauce at Gyoza King in Vancouver.

the bbq pork buns with bits of bacon in the filling at Kirin in Richmond, British Columbia--Steve described these as 'the best piece of dim sum I've ever had' which is a big deal in Steve land. I also thought the bbq pork buns we got somewhere on Clement street in SF after Bay to Breakers was pretty rad, especially reheated at 11 pm later that night.

grilled squid legs with spicy mayonnaise at Guu in Vancouver

albacore tuna with tangerines and ponzu sauce at Shelter Restaurant in Tofino

a 'Green Room' smoothie: mint, pineapple, mango, coconut milk and greens at Jupiter Juicery in Tofino

warm chevre salad with bacon and caramelized onions at Shelter Restaurant in Tofino

polpo alla griglia (grilled octopus, made in a wood-burning oven) at Sardinia in Miami Beach. Wow is all I can say. 

the perfectly-pressed Cuban sandwich at Havana Sol in Vallejo

smoked arctic char in elephant garlic soup with beurre noisette and hazelnuts (there must have been two pounds of butter in that creaminess but I did not care)--paired with Road 13's 2007 Jackpot chardonnay; served at the winemaker's dinner at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino

sashimi salmon with garlic flakes at Guu in Vancouver

my oroshi japadog with daikon and soy sauce relish in Vancouver

scallop and red sea urchin mousse at Blue Water in Vancouver

still-hot-from-the-oven cranberry muffins made at Middle Beach Lodge in Tofino

the best damn 'cue meal from Smokehouse BBQ in Sebastopol: rack of ribs, cornbread with honey butter, strawberry lemonade.

the foie gras torchon with plums, cashews, and toasted crumpets at Cyrus

corn & black truffle risotto with taleggio cheese at Cyrus

the Cyrus BLT: pork belly with fried green tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, caramelized butter lettuce, and fried pancetta. Sweet Jesus. I can never again be satisfied by a regular ole BLT.

this is going to sound underwhelming but it so wasn't: chocolate cake. watermelon. all fancied up making me tongue-tied and unable to explain how incredible those bites were. The final course at Cyrus.

the TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreo) at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Washed down with a glass of cold milk, I can think of nothing better at the moment.

the pig-in-a-blanket at Weikel's Bakery in La Grange, Texas. It was all about the brioche bun blanket.

chicken-fried steak at Andy's in Fredericksburg, Texas. Steve ordered it and I was jealous that it was on his plate instead of mine.

a kolache from Weikel's Bakery in La Grange, Texas. If ever you're in a 100-mile radius of La Grange, do yourself a favor and get yourself a kolache. Good golly miss molly.

the brie mac 'n cheese at Nola's --in N'awlins.

the fried pork chunks at Felix's Place in Vero.

I am now starving. It looks like we're having a quiet night in with deviled eggs, toasted ravioli, and caramel popcorn. Bring it on.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

My parents

For the next week I'll have a new partner in crime: Marmee. I am so, so excited my parents will be visiting. Well, mostly just Marmee since Paps will be working the whole time, but at least we get to be together on his birthday, the first time in 5 years. Each time they visit is funner than the last (a lot to do with Paps' antics)--and I'm wondering how we can top waiting in the rain for non-existent taxicabs ("I haven't been this miserable in a long time.") and the Waterfire fiasco ("I'm just flesh and bone. I am not made of armor.")
Here they are at their 30th anniversary celebration last year.

Word of the day: emotional

Things I saw last week that really resonated with me:

It is the Obamas' dance at the Inaugural Ball, and my favorite version of 'At Last' that I saw that night via all the news coverage (they must have been hearing that song in their sleep--they had to dance to it something like nine times that night!). I love how Beyonce gets so emotional towards the end. All the support shown, all the giddiness of that moment, was very touching.

The next one is a blog posting about a wedding. The couple decided to elope--really elope, with only the two of them and their photographers as witnesses. Photos and video were shot in 8mm and this is how they revealed their secret at a gathering of friends and family. At the end of the post you can click on a link to their emotional Super 8 video. Imagine you are the mother, father, sister, friend etc. of these two and slowly start to realize what you are watching is their wedding. Powerful stuff, wouldn't you say?

Friday, 23 January 2009

More from last weekend

Steve told me he'd love me forever in his sweet way (that's "our" yurt in the background):

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The time we slept in a nest

As for last weekend.

It wasn't exactly the huddle-around-the-woodstove cold that I had envisioned, but I'm not complaining. It was lovely in yurt No. 9.

Now instead of us being dressed in layers upon layers of long johns, wool socks and beanie skull caps, I spent most of the time in my bathing suit with the flannel top from my pj's thrown over for good measure. It was great. We played cribbage, ate twizzlers, played dominoes, read magazines, read about Africa, hummed silly songs that would get in our heads for no apparent reason like "I Am the Walrus," drank wine, hiked to a seal lookout, tossed a football around, and apparently drank at the fountain of a poison oak factory (help!).

But the best part was the nest we got to sleep in on our last night there, made by Big Sur artist Jason Fann. About 7-8 feet off the ground, you're suspended in this teeny wooden cocoon just big enough for a mattress. There's a large hole on either side to create this wonderful wind tunnel effect for the two deliriously happy people who are caught in the middle of it.
It was totally worth getting a bit of sap in my hair, which is still matted and sticky despite several washings already. Balls.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

So very happy

and hopeful. Right now it just feels right to be happy. And proud.

Happy Inauguration Day.

p.s. Isn't it nice to see such a tender marriage?

photo by Doug Mills for The New York Times

Monday, 19 January 2009


I am now a fan of moleskine notebooks. Whenever we absurdly take on a new place I start a notebook listing restaurants to try, things to do, day trips out of town, weekend trips out of town, etc. etc. Usually I've used the cheapie spiral-bound notebooks found everywhere, but they fall apart so quickly--my San Francisco notebook is being held together solely by medical tape, no joke. The Moleskines are sturdier and prettier, and I always get a kick out of their first page:

In case of loss, please return to:

As a reward: $_____________________

And on that line is where I write one billion dollars.

I amuse myself.

Tomorrow, tomorrow

I saw this too late and have already spent way, way too much money tonight at Whole Foods for the next week's meals-- or else I would be preparing a meal tomorrow along these lines, in celebration of the inauguration:

Obama-inspired dishes, or

the menu for tomorrow's inaugural luncheon, except maybe with this scallop soup, and this dessert instead: a peach cobbler which Obama once raved about. The cinnamon apple sponge cake just doesn't sound good to me right now. Oh, and different wines--another (dare I say better) Anderson Valley pinot like Toulouse, maybe a buttery chard with the seafood, and an Iron Horse or Roederer Estate sparkling wine.

Oh well. Looks like it'll be sparkling wine and a tray of fudgy brownies for us. Good times.


Maybe I'll do this for his birthday instead? August 4th. oh, and thanks to this lovely blog for the food ideas.

Friday, 16 January 2009


This is where we'll be holed up this weekend. I'm stoked.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

A favorite

I've made this deliciousness twice in two weeks. Somehow it weirdly satisfies a meat and sweet tooth craving all at the same time.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Our weekend

We went cross-country skiing in Yosemite.

I have two memories from it that I want to remember until I'm ninety-two:
1. driving in the car with Steve when Thriller came on the ipod and we started doing the dance in sync from the confines of our seats.
2. Steve suddenly stopping the car when snow started piling up on the sides of the road and without saying a word, I immediately rushed to get my boots on to run for cover. Yes, he planned on pelting me with a snowball. I know my husband.

But I got him back the next day when I threw packed snow down his pants while skiing.

Friday, 9 January 2009


I am a lucky girl. We moved into our current apartment on July 3rd, 2008 and it wasn't until today, January 9th, 2009, that I had to set foot in our communal laundry room downstairs. Thank you Steve for all you do.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Go Gators Go!

24 to 14! I am super duper happy.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

New calendar

Here's a couple pictures (January and May to be exact) from the calendar I made on snapfish. Whenever you go camping there's the good, bad and the ugly--going to the bathroom while camping falls somewhere in that mix. So when we rafted down the Colorado River last summer one of the guides mentioned a great idea--taking photos of all the toilet set-ups en route downriver and turning it into a calendar (it's about 13 nights for a commercial trip starting from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Creek).

We set out doing this and of course, had a blast. Some of the guides even got in on it with some, ahem, modeling. But I won't show those shots. Here are the most scenic toilets ever.

Monday, 5 January 2009

La Befana, for the Epiphany

Growing up my sister and I got not one but three (!) peeps who would bring us presents around Christmas. On Christmas Eve we were visited by Baby Jesus, who would come to the house while we were at the vigil mass, midnight or otherwise. He seemed to like giving us pajamas :)

Christmas day was, of course, the jolly fat guy who was very, very generous.

And on the 6th of January la Befana would visit us. She's a benevolent, geriatric witch who flies around on a broom leaving presents. The Epiphany celebrates the three Wise Men meeting the infant Jesus for the first time. I'm not sure what a witch has to do with men offering frankincense, gold and myrrh, but that's how it went down in our house. In their home most Italians have a little hanging witch in honor of her, this is our wood-sculptured version of this beautifully ugly woman (this man is very talented) which I will proudly display every Christmas.

And aren't our boys adorable?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

2008 - a look back

from left to right, descending: 1) at Big Basin Redwood State Park 2) on the summit of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (we're the tiny ones at the edge defying death) 3) our group of rafters on the Colorado River last summer 4) wonderful Roberto 5) Haight-Ashbury district, SF 6) da Brunes 7) at Alta Plaza park in SF 8) the famous Painted Ladies 9) Yosemite in June 10) Point Reyes National Seashore 11) vineyards 12) sliding down the firepole at Blackthorne Inn, Inverness for Steve's birthday 13) at Pier 39 in SF 14) B. Hoods and Prince Chubby 15) gingerly descending the Half Dome cables 16) rafting the Colorado River, Grand Canyon National Park 17) Mets vs. Giants, Mets won :) 18) our awesome commute 19) when the Olympic torch came to SF in April 20) Outstanding in the Field at Everett Family Farm 21) the view from Twin Peaks, SF 22) Thrill the World 23) stomping grapes = making wine 24) and of course, that fog.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Ron Howard's Best?

Now that I don't know. Apollo 13, after all, was stunning. And A Beautiful Mind was life-changing, out-of-the-park incredible.

But Frost/Nixon is wonderful. It's riveting, intense, and funny as hell. One of the facets of great movies for me is one that ends with you appreciating the duality of the characters--sympathizing with them and rooting against them all at once. This was one such film. And although it's based on a stage play, it didn't have that tunnel vision feel that some plays-turned-movies do. Here's a link to one of the trailers. And here's a link to a trailer of the actual interviews. It's now out on DVD and I really really want it, and don't think I'll have to twist Steve's arm too much to order it.

On an unrelated topic, I am thrilled that my hubby took me out to lunch today and I got to fill my belly with kumamoto oysters from Hog Island. Happy day.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

My Resolutions for 2009

  1. Eliminate our debt.
  2. Go to Africa.
  3. Exercise at least 4x/week-- yoga, running, or pilates.
  4. Stop cursing.
  5. Blog more.
  6. Plan meals each week, including 1x/week grocery shopping rather than 5 or 6.
  7. Join a CSA this summer for our fruits and veggies.
  8. Make a big deal out of my family and friends' birthdays, since I know how great it feels to have a big deal made out of mine.
  9. Throw the best-ever bridal shower for my sister.
  10. Give my husband a 10-second kiss every day.
  11. Be more informed about current events (don't live in a bubble).
  12. Go for a picnic at the Palace of Fine Arts (it was undergoing renovation when we were living in SF).
  13. Make handmade cards.
  14. Plan a wonderful Valentine's Day. For the first time in years Steve has off the 14th.
  15. Just roll with it. Wabi sabi. Life is imperfect.