Cocktails, Crab and Changes

 

The Whaler cocktail at Prospect, San Francisco.

The Whaler cocktail at Prospect, San Francisco.

That gorgeous cocktail is called The Whaler (Jamaican Rum, Sparkling Wine, Blackberry Honey
Mint, Lime, Egg White), and is obtainable at Prospect here in San Francisco. Not only is it one of my favorite fancy pants cocktails, it was also my beverage of choice for my going away party. It was a lovely gesture — and it felt good to be surrounded with so much love and so many well-wishes.

But back to the reason for the shindig. That's right — after 10 nonconsecutive years with my employer, in a variety of roles, I've taken the plunge and accepted a job outside the firm. But first, I have three glorious weeks off, which means I get to lounge around and enjoy the holidays and be a tourist in my own city for a bit, which I so love to do.

It got off to a somewhat comical start however. I had a few appointments booked at Burke-Williams Spa, which is housed in the Westfield San Francisco. And apparently, not too long after I arrived, the hot water went out. For the entire building. And it remained out the entire time I was there. I'm lucky I got the last of the hot water for my jacuzzi bath when I arrived! I would have been bummed to miss out on that as it is one of my favorite splurges (our bathtub was installed in the 1960s and is low to the ground, short, and has glass doors on a track taking up one side so it's not made for a luxurious soak.)

After my spa time was done, I was starving. La Boulange was mobbed, without any place to sit and eat, and I wanted a salad, so I decided to give Nordstrom Cafe another try.There was a short wait for a table, followed by a prompt taking of my order (salad nicoise) from the waitress. And then there was a 20+ minute wait, punctuated by assurances from the waitress that she was looking into what was taking so long. When my salad finally arrived, the waitress was also carrying a bowl of soup with a cheese toast perched on top. "So sorry for the wait! Here's a cup of soup on the house." she said, then ran off before I could ask what was in the soup.

Now, you are probably thinking to yourself, "don't be such a pain! just enjoy the free soup already!" But here's the thing: it's Dungeness Crab season in San Francisco. And despite not seeing a crab soup on the menu, I had a sneaking suspicion that this lovely, tempting bowl of creamy orangey pink colored soup was made from crab. Which I am deathly allergic to (it's the reason I carry an Epi Pen with me everywhere I go.) I was so tempted to just try a spoonful. But I know better than to do that if there is even a chance it might be crab. And when I finally flagged down a waitress to ask what it was? that's right– it was crab!

Disaster and ER trip averted, I finished lunch and headed to see the Hobbit w/L. Unfortunately, our theater's 3D was the 48 frames per second super fast 3D. It took me most of the film to get used to it. It felt like a cross between HD TV and my old 3D Viewmaster slides. Next time, I'll either opt for the regular speed 3D or 2D. I enjoyed the film despite that distraction, and would like to see it again at home.

My following days have been less eventful, though still very much fun. I've had lunch at Martin Yang's new place M.Y. China, with my fabulous globe-trotting friend Xiaoming. I've also gotten my holiday cards out, and started plotting round 2 of holiday baking which will likely be this weekend, just in advance of Christmas dinner in Sonoma. It'sso  nice to have this break before jumping in to a new position in a new field in January. Lots of things to do between now and then though…

Cheddar Cheese Scones

 
image from farm9.staticflickr.com

Nothing says Thanksgiving appetizer like baked treats loaded with butter and cheese, yes? Thus, my cheddar cheese scones, hot out of the oven and destined for tomorrow's Thanksgiving buffet table…

  • 3 cups flour, self-rising
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (8 TBSP)
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

Butter 2 cookie sheets or spray with cooking spray; set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F (220 c.) Sift dry ingredients together.
Add butter, cutting in or thumbing in, until butter is integrated
throughout, leaving you with tiny flakey crumbs that clump together if you squeeze them. Slowly pour in buttermilk, stirring in with
a knife until just combined. Add cheddar cheese and combine in with your hands. You will
have a very sticky dough. You may roll out the dough on a floured board
to a 1 cm (1/2 inch) thickness and cut with a 2" pastry cutter into
rounds, or use a floured ice cream scoop, or your hands, to make the balls of dough
equal sizes and drop onto your cookie sheets. Personally, I prefer the
drop scones, as you get some crunchy bits on top.

Bake 12-15 minutes until they are golden on top. makes up to 20 drop scones, 24 rolled scones.

Me and My Disturbing Online Alter Ego

My disturbing online alter ego

I usually confine my talk about gaming to my other blog, Bible of Dreams. But all the mudsligning going on this election season regarding a Maine Senate candidate and her "disturbing alter-ego" got the best of me, so here we are.

I've gotten used to the level of nastiness that shows itself in our political races. I've resigned myself to the fact that candidates seem to not be able to be even vaguely civil to each  other. But I hadn't expected to see a candidate made fun of due to her totally legal, and with 10 million other players of the game world wide, pretty mainstream online gaming hobby.

Can someone explain to me exactly how someone playing an online game makes them unfit to hold office?

Give me a break!

If anything, playing World of Warcraft has connected me to a much wider cross-section of the U.S., including a much wider range of political sentiment and economic ranges than I come into contact with in my daily life. I like to think I understand a lot more about this country I ive in, and the challenges facing its people thanks to having gotten to know so many more of them through my online gaming.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

My Portland Summer Vacation Notes

Waterfall at Portland's Japanese Gardens

Hot on the heels of an awesome birthday week, which involved much fine dining and an incredibly awesome bowling night, we packed up and headed to Portland for a few days. This was both L's and my first visit to a city many folks had described to me as "a little San Francisco."

We flew in to PDX and picked up a rental car and headed to our hotel, the Ace. My primary criteria for choosing a place to stay in Portland was I wanted a quirky boutique hotel that had a distinctly Portland feel to it. Given the skewering the Ace received in the Portlandia episode The Deuce, I think I chose wisely. I was tempted by the Jupiter Hotel (home to the Doug Fir Lounge), but given my being a light sleeper and every review of the place commenting on the noise, that didn't seem like a wise choice. We'd been hoping to spend at least one night at the Kennedy School,
based on my friend Adrienne's rave reviews, but they were booked up. As
it turns out, Portland was in the midst of a 90-degree plus heatwave, so
we were glad we'd ended up at the Ace, with its arctic blasts of air conditioning.

Before moving on, I should note that all of the rooms at the Ace are decorated individually, with some sort of theme. I was hoping we'd end up in the room with the huge cat mural that I saw on their website. But instead we ended up in Room 420.  It had a funny little poem stenciled across the walls…

Location-wise, I couldn't have done much better either. The hotel was
located on the line between downtown and the Pearl districts, and only a
short block from Powell's Books.
This meant that there were tons of places to eat and shop located
within a reasonable walk from our hotel, even with the oppressive heat.

I was actually a little worried about being so close to Powell's. Our
tiny San Francisco apartment is overflowing with books already (this is
hy I have been trying to make as many of my book purchases as possible
these days on the Kindle.) With that in mind, as well as what we could
easily find at the fabulous independent bookstores in SF, we focused our
attention on the Gold Room, Powell's auditorium-sized Fantasy and SciFi
books room. I am honestly not sure how many hours we spent primarily in
this room. All I can say is after we were done here, it was time for
beer and dinner, in that order. Somehow, we managed to make it out of
there with only 4 books, ruling out others as being too heavy to carry
around, available for check out at the library and so on. My two books
were  The Player of Games (Culture) by Iain M. Banks, and My Favorite Fangs: The Story of the Von Trapp Family Vampires. by Alan Goldsher. Now, don't judge me on the latter– I wanted some frothy fun vacation reading, and it delivered just that.

Welcome to the Beercation 

Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House
Having checked the weather before we left home, and seeing how hot it was going to be, combined with my love for Pacific Northwest microbrewed beers, I informally dubbed this vacation our "Beercation." So where did we have our first sip? At one of my favorite craft brewers, Deschutes. (NOTE: San Francisco peeps you can usually find Deschutes on tap at Toronado.) Both the Chainbreaker White and the Twilight Summer Ales I tried were perfect for a hot Summer day, and went well with the seriously great pub food. And the decor and atmosphere made it hands down one of the most inviting brew pubs I've been in.I highly recommend starting with a plate of the deviled eggs — you'll thank me later.

Our second brew pub of the trip was Rogue Ales' Distillery and Public House, also downtown and within walking distance of our hotel. We ended up doing sampler sets of 4, which had a creative presentation. I tried Dead guy ale, Cap'n Sig's Northwestern ale (my favorite), Youngers Special Bitter, and American Amber. My big disappointment here was that the Voodoo Donuts Bacon Maple Ale was not available for tasting, though you could buy it–and any other of the many Rogue Ales– in the bottle to take home with you.

Our third and final brewbup of the trip was McMenamins pub at the Kennedy School. It was a friendly and inviting pub, with good beer and american pub food. What made the trek out there worthwhile was getting to see the Kennedy School itself. It's such an indescribable feeling to be wandering the halls of what quite clearly was a school, and sitting in the cafeteria, drinking beer, at midday. If we'd been staying longer, I would have loved to have tried out even more brewpubs, having received some excellent suggestions from #pdxbeergeeks via twitter.

artisanal cocktail at the bar at Clyde Common in PortlandThings to Do, Places at Which to Eat

WIth my focus on dealing with the hot weather being the overriding theme for this vacation, I didn't make any reservations for this trip. I'll pause here for a moment. That's right, for the first time in years, I didn't make even 1 night's plan for eating out at a foodie destination. I decided instead we should play things a little more by ear. And guess what? It worked out famously. And I still got to eat some truly remarkable meals.

I'd heard great things about Clyde Common, the restaurant directly off our hotel's lobby, and we made sure to sample a few cocktails here over the course of our stay, and enjoy a leisurely long dinner in the upstairs balcony.The cocktail menu is inspired, with a number of spectacular house creations including several barrel-aged cocktails, and a daily punch special. This place gets packed, making a long wait the usual, but the time flies by quickly with one of the cocktails in hand, snacking on the french fries with harissa and crème fraîche.

The meat slicer on the counter in front of the woodfired brick pizza oven at Oven and Shaker in Portland.Although we had a great dinner at Clyde Common, my favorite meal of the vacation was at Oven and Shaker, which had not been on our radar at all. We'd peeked in the windows and perused the menu one afternoon as we'd walked around downtown, and made a note of it in case we found ourselves in the mood for some pizza or cocktails, since both sounded solid from the descriptions. We found our way in here on a day that had been swelteringly hot, and the only seats available in the packed house was at the counter in front of the pizza oven. Despite some trepidation at the thought I might keel over from the added heat, we settled in and started watching the team make pizzas as we looked over the menu. We decided upon the antipasto and a pizza. When the antipasto arrived we were intrigued — the salami, mozzarella, provolone, iceberg letter and radicchio were roughly shredded and assembled with the chickpeas and dressed with the wild oregano vinaigrette in a stack much like a large bowl of coleslaw upended. It was delicious — a really fresh take on the antipasto platter. The superstar of the meal however was the pizza. It was wafer-thin, blistered, and topped with just the right amount of goat cheese, leeks, chives, basil, and speck. It was on par with the pizzas at A-16 here in SF. It's going to be the one place I tell everyone I know who plans a trip to Portland to make sure they check out.

Most of our breakfasts during the trip were ad hoc, including grabbing some toast and coffee at the hotel's breakfast room. But we did have a hearty American breakfast at Kenny & Zuke's in the same block as our hotel. Pop in and grab a bagel and have a nosh.

Our day trips included a drive over the border into Washington to visit the offices of an agency I collaborate with a ton at work (/waves at the aha! peeps), plus significant visits to the Japanese Garden and Multnomah Falls. The Falls you see at the top of this post are one of the waterfalls at the Japanese Gardens. The partially shaded gardens were an ideal place for a long walk (the gardens take up 5.5 acres) even with the heat. Of course it helped that I had a huge sunhat on and L gifted me a handmade paper fan from their artisan shop. The only complaint I had was being bummed that they do not have a tea house, unlike our Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park.. But the scale and beauty of the gardens mostly made up for that.

Multnomah Falls was another must-see, and involved a 30-minute drive outside of the city. I was one of the slackers who didn't make it much farther than the lower falls viewing area btw — the trail was a little too steep and vertigo-inducing for me. But L made it to the top, dodging insanely motivated people pushing strollers up the trail of a million (or perhaps only 13) switchbacks.

We also found time to literally chill out over a beer and enjoy the latest Oliver Stone film Savages at Living Room Theater. After the show, we sat in the dining room, with the floor-to-ceiling windows open onto the street, and a jazz trio playing.

Despite the unexpectedly Summery weather for our Pacific Northwest trip, I still got why everyone told me I'd like the place, and why everyone mentions there being "so many trees." I hope to find a good reason for a return visit.

Portland Resources

Ace Hotel Portland
http://www.acehotel.com/portland
1022 SW Stark St., Portand
 (503) 228-2277

Clyde Common
http://www.clydecommon.com/
1014 SW Stark St., Portland
(503) 228-3333
Open daily for dinner and other meals on selected days as noted on their website.

Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House
http://www.deschutesbrewery.com/locations/portland
210 NW 11th Ave., Portland
(503) 296-4906
Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight

Kenny & Zuke's
http://www.kennyandzukes.com/
1038 SW Stark St, Portland
(503) 222-DELI (3354)
Open daily for breakfast and all day eats as noted on their website.

Living Room Theater Portland
http://pdx.livingroomtheaters.com/theater_tour.html
341 SW Tenth Avenue, Portland
(971) 222-2010
Hours and showtimes vary but box office opens at 11:30. Seats are assigned first purchased-first pick, so buy your tickerts in advance to ensure a good seat.

McMenamins pub at the Kennedy School
http://www.mcmenamins.com/797-courtyard-restaurant-home
5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Portland
(503) 249-3983
Daily 7 a.m.-1 a.m.

Multnomah Falls
http://www.oregon.com/attractions/multnomah_falls
50000 Historic Columbia River Hwy,
Corbett,
OR
(503) 695-2376
Daily dawn-dusk

Oven and Shaker
http://ovenandshaker.com/
1134 NW Everett St., Portland
(503) 241-1600
Daily 11:30 a.m.-midnight

#pdxbeergeks
http://www.pdxbeergeeks.com/
Not sure what brew pubs should be on your must-visit list? This is the place to find out. Follow the hashtag on twitter, and check out the blog.

Portland Japanese Garden
http://japanesegarden.com/
11 SW Kingston Avenue, Portland
(503) 223-1321
Monday 12-7 p.m.
Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Powell's City of Books
http://www.powells.com/
1005 W Burnside

Portland, OR 97209
(503) 228-4651
Open daily 9:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

Rogue Distillery and Public House
http://rogue.com/locations/locations.php
1339 NW Flanders
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 222-5910
Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
Friday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

 

Birthday Week: Incoming!

jewelry cat is keeping an eye on you

I always make a point to take my birthday off from work to ensure its chances of awesomeness. The one year that I *did* work on my birthday, I had to manage a PR issue that nearly made me late for my own birthday dinner. Never again!

This year, I'm ratcheting it up a notch and taking off my birthday week AND the following week. The second week will primarily consist of a trip to Portland, a city I've had on my "to visit" list for over a decade. But the first week will be all about getting out and about in San Francisco. Agenda includes:

Now, to just get through this week — only 5 days standing between me and some serious fun…wish me luck!

Take Me Out to the Ballpark

SF Giants

I made it out to my first SF Giants baseball game of the season on Friday night, thanks to L's Stub Hub browsing. A nice big order of garlic fries was consumed, as was much local beer. And I rounded out my evening finally obtaining a panda hat, which was handy for the long cold bus ride home.

Most years I've gotten to go to 2 or 3 games, often thanks to work-related excursions or folks having additional tickets and taking me along. It's been the only sporting activity I like to watch for well over a decade now. I like the strategy — and watching the runners on base psyching out the pitcher…adn getting in a nice long hard slide into base on a steal…good stuff. Of course having a gorgeous ballpark with Bay views and yummy food and microbrews also helps.

It's been a pretty quiet Summer so far. Well, other than the train wreck of a Jesus and Mary Chain show we went to a few weeks back. That was noisy and disappointing. Incredibly disappointing. At least I knew all of the words even though a certain someone else seemed to forget a number of the lyircs. Ahem.

Still trying to pin down dates and details for a small trip up to Portland in Mid-August after my birthday. I'd asked for PAX weekend off, but since we didn't get tickets for that after all, I need to revise my request. Plan is to stay at the Ace in downtown Portland since it appears to be an excellent area for walking around. It will be my first visit to Portland — my only prior Pacific NorthWest experience having been a trip to Seattle a number of years ago for work and a mini vacation. So if you have Portland must-see and must-eat suggestions, leave 'em for me!

Speaking of August, I very briefly toyed with the idea of having a cocktail hour or some such social event for my birthday this year, but then decided against it. I can't fool myself into thinking I'd somehow love a big shindig if it were for me. I truly prefer having the opportunity to have more meaningful one-to-one conversation than is ever possible in a large group. I'm hoping instead for a fancy dinner at Jardiniere with my sweetie, and hopefully a number of individual lunches and post work cocktail hours with friends in addition instead. Yes, Bay Area peeps, THIS MEANS YOU!

And now, back to my Fortnum & Mason Royal Blend tea and playing on Pinterest.

Cap’n Crunch Coffee Cake

image from distilleryimage4.s3.amazonaws.com

I've been making one variation or another of this coffee cake since I was in high school. For my most recent batch, whipped up to celebrate my friends Sharon and Ian's housewarming party, I decided to try a little something different with the topping. Instead of the usual brown sugar and butter topping, I went with some Cap'n Crunch. And it was delicious!

For the Topping

  • 3 Cups Cap'n Crunch Cereal, smashed by hand so it is partially crumbled
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup powdered milk
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TSP salt

Combine all these ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

For the Coffee Cake

  • 3 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 5 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1/2 Cup butter (room temperature) or shortening
  • 1/2 Cup milk
  • 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375. Grease your loaf pans or muffin tins (I've even used brioche tins with great success for these.) Mix all the coffee cake ingredients in a large bowl or your mixer until blended together, about 1 minute. Spread batter into pans and sprinkle topping over the  top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the topping starts to brown. Then cover with foil to resume baking for another 20 minutes. Test with cake tester and remove from oven when cake tester comes out clean. Muffin tin sized cakes usually are ready in about 30 minutes, but larger pans have taken up to an hour in our terrible electric oven.

Enjoy!

 

Moulin Rouge, via Gatsby

I have a terrible confession to make.

You are likely to shake your head in disbelief when I tell you this.

But I've decided to come clean: I just saw the film Moulin Rouge this week.

*ducks for the inevitable pelting with overripe vegetables that follows*

I can explain! 2001 was a tough year for me. And the previews here in the states showed that zippy little number done to the tune of the Can Can. It looked to be far too bouncy and jubilant for me to digest. And thus, I never saw it.

Over the years, as I listened to friends whose taste paralels mine, or at least frequently overlaps when it comes to movies, I would smile and nod when their unbridled love for this movie would come up. "Mmmmhmmm" I would say, before bouncy off on another topic as quickly as possible.

So what made me take the plunge this week? It was the trailer for the new Baz Luhrmann film based on The Great Gatsby, as seen above. Gatsby is one of my all-time favorite books (tho it seems I most unfortunately lent my vintage copy of it out to someone who never brought it back to me.) So knowing that I will defintiely want to go see Gatsby, and having had an evening with movie watching on the agenda and nothing in hand that looked particularly inspiring, we rented Moulin Rouge from the iTunes store…and I positively loved it. Of course.

I'm sorry it took me so long to see the film, but am glad to finally be able to add to the conversation the next time someone brings it up as one of their favorite movies, or an example of Ewan McGregor being positively adorable, etc.

Now, what else do you secretly suspect I've never seen and should add to my queue ASAP?

8 Things People Who Do Not Live in San Francisco Think they Know About the City

Every so often, I am reminded that having lived in this city for almost 2 decades, I have a distinctly different point of view on a number of items related to our fair CIty. And thus, I share with you this list of things people who do not live in San Francisco often are certain they know about San Francisco. Please leave me some of your favorites in the comments!

8 Things That Are Not True About San Francisco But Many People Seem to Think Are

1. It is OK to call us "Frisco" for short.

2. Every place from Marin County to San Jose to Oakland is all San Francisco.

3. When you tell me you're coming to San Francisco and want to meet up, but are actually in San Jose, that's OK because I can just take BART there.

4. Parking is plentiful in the Marina, on a weekend night, so we don't need to pay for parking/valet. We'll just circle the block again…

5. Everyone lives in one of those adorable Victorians.

6. There are no straight guys in the City, so if you move here as a single lady you are on your way to spinsterhood.

7. If you come to visit, be sure to pack shorts, you'll want to be wearing them for your trip to Ocean Beach.

8. Cabs are plentiful and can be flagged down from any street corner throughout the City.

How Pinterest has Changed the Way I Share Links on the Web

I was a latecomer to Pinterest, having fallen in love with the reblogging charm of tumblr . But as you can see from the tumbleweeds rolling through my tumblr page, I've changed course and have pretty much moved over to Pinterest instead for my content sharing.

Misserikasf_Pinterest_boards

What prompted this change? Although I love the content being shared on tumblr, I never had the ability to really slice and dice what I was sharing by topic. With Pinterest,not only am I able to do just that, I'm also able to easily visually scan the content I've shared, which is especially handy for the hundreds of recipes I've bookmarked in web browsers and my google Reader RSS feed reader over the years.

For all the foodie content I'd been hoarding, I started up three separate boards: cocktails, cook this, and baked treats. Then for the miscellaneous geekery , I have star wars, hello kitty and geekery boards. I even started one to save all the interesting infographics I inevitably share and can't put my finger on ever again. Then I tackled my travel photo stash, and made a Pinterest board for my travels, focusing just on a photo or two that captures a specific place/moment in time, and one for windows since they are so often a topic for my photography.

I feel bad about having been neglecting my tumblr. Because it was a ton of fun for a number of months. But at this point, it doesn't make sense to me to be keeping up two profiles that basically are focused on the same activity, so you'll be finding me on Pinterest instead. Hope to see you there.