Archive for the 'food' Category

savage dreams, by rebecca solnit

the great curse of Euro-American history is its shallowness, its failure to take root in a place so different from its place of origin.

dishes with surprise egg of san francisco, an appreciation

The Rebel Within, a savory muffin from Craftsman and Wolves

Bacon and soft boiled egg brioche from Tartine Manufactory

Rocket Man, an arugula, garlic, chili and egg pizza from PizzaHacker

Salmon Egg Bowl from Samovar Yerba Buena and bonus Egg Jar from Samovar Mission

22 hours in new york

6pm: wheels down at JFK

6-8pm: stuck in UN traffic with an elderly bearded white taxi driver who plays country music and tells me the mileage on each vehicle he owns and exactly what happened last time he went to the DMV. When his credit card reader turns out to be offline, he locks all the doors and demands to know how I am going to pay. When I am released I go to an ATM, thrust the cash at him and flee.

8pm: I am an hour late for dinner but Leonard is still waiting for me, because he is delightful. We talk about technology for libraries and strategies for writing science fiction novels. I have the pork saltimbocca and a tiramisu of unusual size

10pm: stress about my talk

11pm-6am: wake every hour on the hour to make sure I haven’t overslept

7am: realize I have overslept

7:30am: rehearsal. Everyone is delightful. I am filled with terror

8am: in the speaker’s lounge. Too late to back out.

9:30-10am: I give my talk. I flub half the lines, but people say lovely things about it both to my face and on Twitter

11am: coffee with the lovely Fintan. We talk about containerization

12noon: lunch with the wonderful Francis and the amazing Gus. I have the moules marinieres and an excellent tarte tatin. We talk about word puzzles and technology for Doctors Without Borders and San Francisco high school choices and I have to tear myself away

1:30-2:30pm: taxi ride to JFK in which nothing goes wrong and I do not fear for my life. I leave an excessive tip

4pm: wheels up!

another good day, thanks

adventure time: yolo

Yesterday I drove north, past a bonfire and through an almost Sydney-severe rainsquall, to where California State Route 16 West peels off from I-505 into Yolo County. There, the sun came out and shone on the dry Capay Hills, turning them lemon and gold in front of the smudged indigo mountains behind them.

I wanted so badly to go into those warm yellow hills! And then Highway 16 took me around a corner and into Rumsey Canyon, carved out of the stone by Cache Creek, all geology and cattle pasture and gnarled old oaks. I wanted so badly to get out and walk around! And then Google took me up a still narrower canyon through which Bear Creek was running and gently steaming, and I met Tina at Wilbur Hot Springs, a gorgeous place that smells in a very friendly way of eggy farts.

We soaked in the hot green sulfurous water, shared bread and cheese and salami and radishes and olives and champagne and a little chocolate, rode bikes through the nature preserve, past the geyser to the wind chime forest, and talked about books and politics and our children and our partners and the parties we used to throw in the 90s and her painting and my writing and her sister, my friend Jen. We were urged to leave our electronics behind, and I did, so I don’t have any pictures, sorry about that.

Tina and I don’t see each other often enough and this has to be changed. As I drove back, the near-full moon rose on my left through a pink band of sunset. It followed me home to the city.

Today I drove south to a stable in the redwoods, where Salome and I saddled up and rode two bright gold pony mares through the forest to a chain of meadows in the sun. We talked about work and education and our children and her painting and my writing and our plans for the future. I stuck my iPhone in my jacket pocket, so here are some pictures for you.

We saw five mule deer, the sun pink through their absurd ears. One gentle doe was napping under the trees, curled like a cat.

California is so impossibly motherfucking beautiful sometimes, it actually kind of hurts.

two homecomings

I spent the week in Vegas for work, which is always deeply strange, like going to a habitat on Mars. You fly in over red wasteland and craters and then everything is under one roof and you never go outside. Except for one walk along the lobby of the convention center after the keynote, I had no direct sunlight for four days. Not good. How can I photosynthesize under these conditions.

It was an indescribable relief to be home, basking in a sun-drenched San-Francisco-in-October day, even if the Blue Angels were roaring overhead, reminding us that our space for progressive pacifism is provisional and may be revoked at any time. Claire spent the same four days at a school camp and I met her at the bus. She was filthy and cheerful. She demanded that I play Hamilton in the car, and she wanted Peruvian for lunch: “Camp food was too bland.” Definitely my kid, then. We had empanadas and lomo saltado and chicken and sweet potato fries and mango lemonade. She told me the camp gossip and I caught her up on our mutual fandoms. Mallory Ortberg discovered Steven Universe, which makes us both very happy.

I missed her in a new way during this separation, not only as my kid but as someone who makes me laugh in her own right, who makes me think. Someone I would want to be friends with anyway.

The city has had a series of almost tastelessly lurid sunsets lately and tonight’s was ablaze.

“The sky is weird colours,” I told Jeremy.

“You’ve been in Vegas,” he said. “You haven’t seen the sky.”

“The sky is colours!”

“The sky!”

(I already used half these jokes on Twitter; sorry about that.)

city of light meals

A cool change blew through on our first night, thank the gods. The jetlagged girls couldn’t sleep, so I went out and lay on the sofa bed with them until the “Mama Bear is here” signal overwhelmed the “STRANGE ROOM” alarm in their reptile brains. Then I couldn’t sleep, so I climbed back in with Jeremy and his “Papa Bear” signal overwhelmed mine.

Saturday we found Kirsty outside the Louvre Pyramid, exchanged many kisses and saw the Nike of Samothrace (better than I ever dreamed), the Venus de Milo (quite lovely) and the Mona Lisa (whatevs.) I adored the Roman Egyptian mummy portraits and we all loved the Islamic art. I decided that Christian art is mostly sentimental rubbish. Jeremy says I’m going through a phase.

We had an insanely delicious lunch at the Bistro Richelieu. I had the confit de canard. It was the best thing I have ever put in my mouth.

We only see Kirsty every few years but on each occasion it is as though no time has passed.

Dinner at Vin et Terroir with Kirsty’s friends Justin and Peter. I had the lentil soup, which was the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. Sunday we did a little more Louvre, swung by the Musee d’Orsay and the Orangerie (Monet is amazing) and crossed paths several times with the end of the Tour de France. Hurrah for the sportspokes! Dinner at a City Crepes, where the grownups became perhaps too merry upon cider.

Today we walked across Ile St Louis to the Centre Pompidou.

Jeremy first went there when he was Claire’s age, and last time we visited, pre-kids, he said that if he ever did have children, he wanted to take them there.

They loved it. Renzo Piano also built the Cal Academy, their favorite place in SF, and Jan and Richard’s house was always full of bent wood furniture and Matisse prints, so it must have felt like home. Jeremy went into a full-on Art Dad fugue state and we stormed around for hours. (Matisse is amazing.)

Then we went to Au Petit Versailles du Marais for Kirsty’s farewell meal, which, wah. I wish London was closer to San Francisco. Saying goodbye is boring.

Julia ordered, and I finished, the Pyramid, a structure of passionfruit mousse with an apricot center and a macaroon base. It was the best thing I have ever put in my mouth.

sensation returning to a paralyzed limb

Jeremy has been ill too and we are all heartily sick of all the local takeout options, so last night I pulled out a chopping board and the sunshine-yellow Le Creuset dutch oven that Janny gave us.

The girls were drawn like magnets and clambered around. “Are you cooking?” “You never cook.” I used to. The last time I remember doing it was in Barraba in October of 2013, after we brought Mum back from her radiation treatment in Sydney. We were full of hope that her lingering symptoms were left over from the radiation, and that she would defy the horrible odds against her. I bought potatoes and chicken stock at the IGA. In the kitchen at Henry Street, I peeled the potatoes and blanched them and then sliced them thinly and warmed them in a little melted butter. I drowned them in stock and let them simmer until they were fall-aparty, then used a hand mixer to blend everything into a rich, delicate puree. It’s a Julia Child recipe. It turned out great.

I think Mum managed two spoonfuls of it.

Anyway I am not surprised that Julia especially thinks I do not cook. I diced a white onion and had Julia peel a couple of carrots for me, which I sliced into rounds. I warmed the onions and five chicken thighs in butter. I love butter, don’t judge me. I cut up a couple of preserved lemon wedges and threw them in with some of their briny syrup. I added the carrots and covered everything in a little powdered clove and quite a lot of powdered cinnamon. When the chicken was brown, I threw in the last of a bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and a cup or two of water, and stuck the Le Creuset in the oven with the lid on until the house was full of delicious smells.

We ate it over rice. It was awesome. I made a rhubarb compote for dessert, and that was yummy too.

the rest of the yatima cookbook can just be lush photos of me and food

I’ve realized that my cooking techniques reduce to a very simple flow chart:

Is it a salad vegetable? Eat it raw with olive oil and lemon juice.

Is it a bitter green, or possibly a whole chicken? Roast it in olive oil and salt.

Is it a root vegetable or cauliflower and DO YOU FEEL FANCY? WELL, DO YOU, PUNK? Roast it, add stock and blend it to make soup. Eat it with sharp cheddar and a spoonful of brandy.

Is it some other kind of vegetable, such as for example broccoli, or a pulse such as for example peas, corn or haricots vert? Steam it. Eat it with gobs of salted butter.

Is it a fruit? Make a compote by stewing in water. Is it rhubarb? Add a little sugar. Eat it with gobs of heavy cream.

Now have a nice glass of Marlborough sauvignon blanc. You deserve it!

there was something about anarchy, i remember that much

Kirsty is a force of nature. I’ve been meaning to go up to Edinburgh since Alex and Ioanna moved there from Ireland years ago, but the details eluded me. When I mentioned it in passing to Kirsty the whole thing was organized in what seemed like sixty seconds. I flew in early for the London conference I come to every April, and Kirsty and I caught the train to Edinburgh.

The journey was gorgeous and fascinating. “Green and pleasant land,” I tweeted as we left London, then “dark Satanic Mills!” as we crossed the midlands and I saw four huge power stations (Eggborough and friends maybe?) belching steam into an otherwise cloudless sky. As we sped to Scotland we saw Durham Cathedral, the Angel of the North (which I have loved since first seeing pictures of it and which came as a completely unexpected treat), beautiful steampunk Newcastle, Lindisfarne like something from a Miyazaki film or happy dream, the sun sparkling on the mouth of the Tweed at Berwick, and the looming bulk of the Torness Nuclear Plant.

Motion sickness got to me after a while. (The hangover from the night before probably didn’t help. That was Grant’s fault.) I thought I was going to hurl all over Waverley Station. I took my first steps in Scotland trying not to puke and telling myself “Don’t mention their accents don’t mention their accents,” so of course when I called Alex I blurted out “you sound very Irish.” I guess at least I didn’t vomit?

When I had recovered myself somewhat Kirsty and I had fun storming Edinburgh castle, and when we finally did make it to Alex’s house the awkwardness of nine years’ separation did not survive its first encounter with a pretty decent Sangiovese I’d brought out from California. Alex made osso buco. It was delicious. Ioanna is delightful and their daughter Lena is so best. We figured out how to fix capitalism but I didn’t write it down, so that’s a pity.

the annual ozblogging

I got back to the office today after more than a week of traveling on business and for fun. My desktop wallpaper is this picture of me sitting with Julia on the log bridge over the Garcia River at Oz. I looked at it for longer than usual this morning, because that’s where we spent last weekend.

Oz is a strenuous exercise in looking at landscapes of extreme beauty, eating delicious food, playing in the river and soaking up the sunshine. We read, we draw pictures, we toast marshmallows in the potbellied stove, we have long baths. It’s like everyday life only better. This year as I was reading in bed, an opossum came visiting on the deck outside, exploring the dome windows with its opossumy nose.

I am a creature of habit. Here’s what I wrote about Oz last year and here’s the year before. Liz blogged that same weekend although, being Liz, she added lots of interesting local history.

Speaking of which – local history, I mean – I paid more attention in the Point Arena lighthouse museum this year, and learned two Salient Facts therefrom. Salient Fact the First is that in the 19th and early 20th centuries the white settlers logged the living hell out of that part of the country, sending logs of old-growth redwood down the Garcia. There are pictures in this book, which I probably need to buy of the devastation. The logs ended up in San Francisco, building for example the house in which I live. So my pristine wilderness meadow isn’t, and it isn’t because it was torn apart to build my home.

Salient Fact the Second is also about the meadow, which turns out to be pretty much the San Andreas fault. The thought had never crossed my mind – that place is my sanctuary – but of course when I went back to look at Liz’s blog, she had already guessed as much. O promised land, what a wicked ground! No wonder I love you so much.

this lemonade stand is a classic silicon valley startup

Already a hour into our window of opportunity, we have no product to ship. The CEO is hand-watercolouring the sign. The only employee had to be wooed away from solving puzzles. It is left to the investors (me and @jsgf) to juice the lemons and buy plastic cups.


Lemonade stand

a memorable fancy

Last night Claire and I went through her favourite cookbook and picked out the gnocchi, lasagne and baked peach recipes for her to make. Today after wushu we went to Lucca, the awesome Italian place on Valencia and 22nd, for pasta flour, amaretti and parmesan. (Some dulce de leche and tuna in olive oil snuck into my bag as well.) At the farmer’s market we found stone fruit, onions, spring onions, cilantro, kale, potatoes and Colin, who always has the best neighborhood gossip. At Good Life we bought meat, carrots and lemons. Right now I am baking paleo quiche (savory custard tarts in pancetta crusts) and the girls are about to make lemonade to sell at the street party around the corner.

It’s so rare that I find myself being more or less the mother I’d hoped I would be…

an unexpected treat

We had babysitters last night but it was a perfect storm of Working Mamahood: a stressful meeting, a race home to be in time to pay Julia’s tutor and drop off a BBQ chicken for the girls’ dinner, then sweatily retracing my steps to find that the place I had planned on meeting Jeremy was closed for renovations.

I had a glass of wine two doors away. J arrived and I glowered at him until I remembered that this place exists and was in fact just around the corner. We had a fricken celestial meal. The highlight was the salmon tartare, which came in a white dome of frozen horseradish that melted on your tongue like angels singing.

We sat at the bar watching the kitchen prep: liquid nitrogen to keep the horseradish domes crisp and to freeze the popcorn; the cherry sorbet served in champagne coupes with a little lime soda. Commonwealth is run by San Francisco hippies and $10 from every tasting menu goes to local non-profits, hence the name. J got tipsy. I had to pack for a business trip when we got home, but then we curled up on the couch and watched Thor, which was extheedingly thilly.

because i love you

Here are a couple of unicorn chasers.

Tintin author Herge was a super-problematic dude in many ways, but he was exemplary in at least this one: he made friends with a Chinese scholar and he listened to his friend and he let that friendship change him and his work. That’s all you can ask of anyone, really, so: props.

This conversation between two Asian-American foodies about cultural appropriation is a privilege to overhear, and also contains these handy hints on not being racist:

Danny Bowien is a guy who NAILS it in terms of messaging. He does funky hybrid party Chinese food that I think we’re all honored to be the inspiration for. Danny hit me on twitter today wanting to put my Hainan Lobster Rice on the menu, do it! I love that people like Danny and Kareem Abdul Jabbar are interested in our culture in an inquisitive and honest way.

Danny’s the chef at my new favourite brunch place, so: yay.

the children make their own dinner

We have a rice cooker – we bought it after the first Cambridge trip, when a rice cooker saved our lives – and last night I’d shown Claire how to make a cup of white rice with a pinch of salt, a glug of olive oil and a cinnamon stick.

There were leftover sausages, which Claire cut up.

Julia made Julia Salad:

A grated carrot
Corn kernels
Torn-up nori

Julia has a glass of milk, Claire is drinking mineral water and I am kicking back with a cold Marlborough sauvignon blanc. It’s a beautiful evening, the door’s open to the terrace, the Daleks are on the telly and all’s right with the world.

“what do you mean, someone took the kids for an unexpected playdate?”

“Call Peter the Rocket Scientist! We’re going to brunch like it’s 1999!”

Felt as if I’d died and gone to the Mission District.


A thunderstorm boiling up from the west. Ozone smell in the air and rain on the cool breeze. Tea and Christmas cake with Mum and Dad on their screened-in back deck.

happy birthday @jsgf: dinner at @saisonsf

1. Caviar sturgeon roe sea urchin chicken belly in a glass bowl with a mother of pearl spoon
Me: umami jewels
J: briny proteins!

Nicholas Feuillat champagne

2. Trout roe and a watercress leaf with dill, potato, shrimp
Me: one bite of creamy salad!
J: …not quite

CD: Music From When You Were In High School
Seriously not fucking kidding! The Eagles, Phil Collins, Thompson Twins, Men At Work!

3. Egg and cress sandwich with gold leaf
Me: that was good
J: REALLY good

Elton John, Benny and the Jets

4. Oyster with lemon verbena
Me: yum. You never get good oysters here
J: we should go to Sydney then

More Phil Collins! Billie don’t you lose my

5. Deconstructed and reassembled bluefin tuna with a rice poppadum
J: because nature didn’t make tuna tasty enough

6. Brassica is any cruciferous vegetable
Kale and broccoli chips in rye and barley with a quail egg in a bonita stock
Me: smells like home
J: roast chicken and kale

Invisible touch! Don’t stand so close to me!

Me: it’s my high school formal!

7. Lobster and turnip and Dungeness crab in a Meyer lemon cream
Me: if California were a soup it would be this soup

The Beatles. You Can Call Me Al!

Me: which Beatles song was it?
J: the one that goes plinky plinky I am tugging at your heartstrings

Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Me Away

8. Tragic little exploded squid on a bed of its own risotto. Forgive me. It was delicious

OH: i really want succulents for our wedding. I want em in my bouquet

9. A liver dessert and beer. Seriously amazing
J: novel! All the other things were nice but this is remarkable!
Server: yes, the chef calls it foie toffee, with coffee beans

Every breath you take! Summer breeze!

10. 30 day aged pigeon with persimmon, orange, pressed pear, pomegrate and kalamatta olive

Narcisse Pinot noir


11. Brioche goat cheese course! So yummy


12. When a lemon sorbet and a lemon meringue pie love each other very VERY MUCH



What is this more wine i don’t even

13. New Orleansean fantasia with TINY BEIGNETS



14. Popcorn ice cream

Disastrous date to the right of us: a sullen silence is still silence

Disastrous date to the left of us: PLEASE DON’T EVER ASK ME WHAT I MEAN



Dear God I have to be on a plane at 7am. And so to bed.

chocolate mouse

A chocolate mouse by yatima
A chocolate mouse, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

Claire is having her school friends round for a cat party. Have mercy upon me O Lord.