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Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Family Moment Full of Cheer

Last night was pretty monumental for me and my family. Beside the fact that there was Lobster Mac n Cheese in the mix, the family got along splendidly. More important, I got to hang with my younger brother Evan and his girlfriend. It had been nearly two years since we had seen each other. Both of us into our mid-30's, we are finally able to see each other as adults and enjoy one another. So we all met up with my mom and her husband for dinner at The Lazy Lobster in Long Boast Key. And so I ordered the Lazy Man Lobster which came "out of the shell in drawn butter. I super sized and got the Twice the Meat option. We all got a sampling of the "House Specialty" Lobster Mac n Cheese which is "fresh steamed lobster meat with macaroni and white cheese baked with toasted crumbs." This place rocked! I got to try my mom's Lobster Bisque. My bro was nice and offered up the house made potato chips that came with his Lobster roll.

We were all stuffed with lobster, when we went without the parents to World of Beer. I had picked up a childhood friend Evan, who was also visiting his family down in Florida. It had been 7 years since we had hung out. But thanks to Facebook, we have been able to keep up the latest and greatest adventures that occur in our lives. Back to World of Beer. I went straight for some Drafts. Started with Delaware brewed Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA after they were out of the Punkin'. This beer is described as a "Double IPA with huge hops and a huge fruity finish. Expect lots of citrus and a floral aroma. Dry-hopped for extra aroma!!!" I still need to try the Punkin' Ale at some point. I then ventured to the Unibroue Trois Pistoles from Belgium. It is a "Strong Belgian Dark ale with an aroma of ripe fruits and spices. Brewed from roasted malts giving it a fuller, malty sweet taste." My friend Evan suggested we dry a few bottles and we went with a pale Lager from Poland called the Zywiec. My brother's friends were awesome to hang with as well. His buddy Quincy has come out to Cali before and it was definitely great to see him in his town, living it up. The night ended at Linksters for some shots and last drafts before we shut the place down. And I have some shocking news. I got a #1 meal at McDonald's. Something was definitely going on, because I can not tell you the last time I had a BIG MAC. It was tasty as I mawed it in the parking lot with fries and a coke.

Now, less than 100 miles till we land in San Francisco, I reflect to a short but wonderful holiday. It has been a long time in the making and the fact that I am walking away from the experience with a smile on my face speaks volumes. But I am rather excited to be coming home and going out dancing tonight with my buds. My 2nd family. Can't beat that...

Friday, November 27, 2009

A New Face, A Familiar Place

Since I only write about things I enjoy, I am omitting my review of the gay bar I went to last night in Sarasota. At least that's where I think it was. But I did get a chance to experience my first ever facial this morning at Marina's Face Body & Nail Care of Longboat Key. Marina herself, states that my face is "full of fantastic things." It was definitely a treat to get groomed. Thanks Mom for the gift. I also had a chance to eat at Nosh A Rye for lunch. This place definitely lived up to the "New York Kosher-Style Deli," it claims to be. I had the combo pastrami/corned beef sandwich and an Arnold Palmer and some home made coleslaw. Hit the spot! Just went to visit with my younger brother at his new home. Got to chill with his Golden Retriever Emma too. Cute and lovable Emma. Back at my timeshare drinking a bourbon and getting ready for a sunset walk down the beach. Tonight apparently is Lobster Mac n Cheese. I am seriously excited about that. I did just snack on 2 small thin slices of pizza from A Taste of Italy. Good job guys! Nice to see authentic pizza. So, I am nourished, cocktailed and ready for the sun to set. World of Beer is where my bro and his friends are taking me later. Best to pace myself then. We will just have to see. ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Getting Lost and Found in Florida

I have been in Florida for 16 hours. Got in at 12:30am. Not an open bar in site because I was at the Marriott at the Tampa Airport. Duh! I did manage to score some nib bottles of Jack from a flight attendant I flirted with staying nearby. And so I finally crawled outta bed and left for my rental car at close to 11am. Upgraded to a Mustang, 275 South toward Bradenton and then 75 South into Sarasota. I ended up lost and added an extra hour to my trip but it didn't bother me in the least. Of course I had my mother in my ear every five minutes but hell, its Thanksgiving! One day, right? And so when I finally got my bearings and pulled into her gated community, I noticed all the baby swans and looked for the manatees. Long Boat Key is rather beautiful. Had lunch with my mom and her husband in the kitchen. It was rather comforting and sweet. Just some knick knacks and family, what a moment! My mom and I drove to the time share I was residing in for a couple days. After I saw the beach view from my room, I quickly unloaded mom back at her place and went back to the beach for some sunning. Oh, I almost forgot, I went to the coolest Liquor Store hidden away in the mini mall by mom's condo. Tucked away, unique in the fact that it remained open with neighboring stores closed for the holiday, I entered and grabbed a 6 pack of Barbados Brewed Kalik and a good ole' bottle of Four Roses Bourbon. As I sit here, drinking a glass, looking through some shots I took with my Toy Camera App, I am anxious for upcoming dinner with my family. Long time in the making. Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Stocking Up Before Stuffing Up

Holiday season has officially begun. I decided to take the day off and prepare for a long flight to Florida to visit my family. Of course, my body still woke up before 6 this morning. After watching many episodes of Sex and The City and Curb Your Enthusiasm, I finally departed the house and began my walking ritual to Ritual for a much needed Gibraltar. I than trekked down to Bar Tartine for some breakfast. Both the Savory and Sweet Bread Pudding were unavailable so I settled on the Breakfast Sandwich with included soft scrambled eggs and their house-cured bacon on a homemade biscuit. Of course, I had to pair it with a sparkling Rose. And for not having either pudding, they offered up a house made Huckleberry Donut. Scrumptious! On the way back to pack, I got my second Gibraltar at Ritual. I am only off to Long Boat Key/Sarasota for a couple of days but I needed to soak up all that SF has to offer before I head out. So, I enlisted a buddy to drive me to SFO but not before a stop at Pal's Take-Away. Today's menu included Aunt Nona’s nice chicken cacciatore sandwich on Acme bread w/ smoky tomato sauce, Annabell’s rapini, grated reggiano, a little spicy mayo and Cold-poached Tombo tuna w/ pickled onions, cucumber, salsa verde, Blue Heron lettuce, on Acme kaiser roll. Both of which I had packaged up in preparation for 2 flights to my final destination. I also got their Faro salad w/ ginger roasted Kabocha squash, Annabelle’s savoy cabbage, toy box tomato, fresh herbs, pickled walnuts... and a bag of Bacon Chips by the folks at Who's Your Daddy. I arrived at the Anchor Steam Bar in American Airlines terminal and ordered a tall Liberty Ale. I opened my chicken sando and the Bacon Chips and moved on to the salad. So I am now writing mid flight to DFW and contemplating eating the Tombo before landing. I have ordered my second Miller Lite of the flight and have read an entire Entertainment Weekly. I guess I will hold off till landing and see what beer may stand up to the Tuna. I am looking forward to sharing the Thanksgiving experience in sunny Florida. That's if the weather decides to cooperate. Apparently, it's currently raining. I am known to bring the sunshine and flowers wherever I go. Let's see if I live up to my reputation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ice Cream Is For Winners!!

Sunday I grabbed a mocha at Four Barrel with Lori. I asked my buddy Mark to meet me there pre-brunch. And would you believe there was a salted caramel and a cornmeal cherry donut? And I imagine you can bet I had at 'em? Well, you are absolutely right. I did it and I brought Mark and Lori with me. Thanks Dynamo!! So we are having a good gab when John and his co-pilot P.D. Bird Aka Patricia Dolores dart by having a little chat. P.D. Bird is the cutest Lil parrot and joins John for all his deliveries of coffee tugged on his shirt. It's friggin' adorable. I also met Mike from Jutland in Denmark. He works in proteins or shall I say, he works with the lab instruments that do protein analysis. We talked coffee, sausage and fitness and he told me of a feat he had recently done in England. It was an 80 mile walk with chums over a 5 day period coast-to-coast. The Hadrian Wall. Sounded like a cool adventure for me and a few of my chums. I digress. Lori went on with her Sunday errands and Mark and I went on to brunch. He suggested Pork Store but we ended up at Frjtz 'cause it was close to noon and that's always an excuse for beer. I got an Abbey from Belgium and the Da Vinci with fries rather than home fries. Oh, and some Curry Ketchup for dipping. Yum. When I walked my pal back to his rental car and said goodbye, it was then off to Gold's to remove some guilt. Bumped into an old friend and we ended up spending a nice afternoon together catching up on old times. Since we missed prime-time Beer Bust Sunday afternoon, we decided to have dinner with one another. Another gem in my hood is Blue Plate. I mean, this place is comfort food center. Meatloaf. Mac & Spanish drunk cheese. Brussel sprouts oh my. And I had a rather tasty Pork Chop too. And wouldn't you know, they are also serving Back in Black by 21st Amendment. Fantastic! That might be my current favorite draft. Hmm... The evening closed with an Affogato and we were back to Four Barrel for a 2nd round that included their espresso shot poured over some ice cream. Don't worry, I was back at gym early Monday morning. Still weighing close to 190. I started reflecting back almost 50 pounds heavier, wondering of my habits. The key to my successes is the balance. Thank goodness I am flat-footed. ;) I texted Riley after I started biking from the gym to my office, convincing him to meet me at Cento and Little Skillet. I wanted him to be aware of what was in his backyard. Well, he convinced himself to squash his current diet plan momentarily when he saw chicken & waffles on Lil Skillet's menu. I tried to resist my temptation, when he offered me the most perfect bite. And when I say, most perfect bite, I mean he shred the fried chicken, poured the syrup over the accompanying waffle and cut me a massive piece. And I grunted and jumped up in joy. I also attribute my enthusiasm to the 2 Centos I had inhaled as well. Heehee... So why stop here... Last night, my bud Roy came out from Marin to grab some supper. After cocktail hour at my crib ended, we walked down Valencia to try out Pi. Opened last month, thin crust pizza. Ok, now were talking. Great beer drafts and menu of beer in general. Now, my ears are perking up. Roy and I had already touched on the subject of meatballs earlier in the evening. So, it was a no-brainer, in terms of the topping we wanted. We also tried the Cesar and the fried mozzarella with pizza sauce. Robust! I ate 5 slices of the "largest and tastiest pie," according to Roy's critique. Since it was still early, I convinced Roy to go on a walk with me. I had a craving. I was pleased to see Jake manning the counter at his Humphrey Slocombe. He let us try everything. Lots of holiday cheer. I am remembering Ginger bread something. There was this pink apple sorbet or something. All I know is, I ended up with cinnamon brittle and brown sugar yogurt in a cone. Boy! Did I have some crazy dreams last night... Already caffeinated and on BART train heading to the East Bay. Off to Sacramento. What fun? Can you feel my sarcasm? Is it Thanksgiving yet?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Neon Indian Finally Debuts in San Francisco

It was Thursday night and I just finished a plyometrics workout with Mike from and I decided do vegan for dinner. I ordered I AM WHOLE at Cafe Gratitude. I love quinoa and kale and it is rather fulfilling. Sitting, counterside, enjoying my meal. The girl next to me comes back to her plate and bottle of wine. She gazes up and offers me a glass. At first, I hesitated. But after her second attempt, I succumbed and struck up a dialogue, as I sensed she needed to talk. After 2 glasses, I completed my free love therapy session and biked home in preparation for the main event. Larry arrived ahead of schedule. Michael and I jumped in his car. Mark texted and said he was getting on line for will call. Aaron called as we pulled up to park. Riley texted he was 10 minutes away. And we all seemed to meet and man the line to get into RickShaw Stop. Paul had friends visiting from Montreal that wanted to get in. All tickets were spoken for as security made announcements down the line. We bid the Canadians goodbye and we started moving into the club. It was cool to have gathered the 7 of us together. We all were experiencing this nightclub for the 1st time and we were all poking around having fun before the 1st opening act of the evening. Love X Nowhere proclaimed into their set that they were retiring the band. Apparently alot of their faithful fans had come out to support their final performance. Everyone cheered and the music was very memorable. Night Jewel was next up and equally entertaining. I was having a hard time containing my excitement as they exited the stage. I could see the stage was getting set and mic check went 1, 2, 3...and then Neon Indian busted into their set. They covered most if not all of their material all from Psychic Chasms. But my absolute favorite song Deadbeat Summer rocked me so much, I am still watching the video I shot with my iPhone. The thrilling surprise at the encore was the lead singer announcing he would do a song under his other pseudo name VEGA. The song No Reasons just makes me dance and jump. Even while riding my bike, I still do plenty of bouncing when listening to it. The night was pure amazement and the pictures are certainly proof of that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finding My Passion

Last night in a rush to make my friend Steve Taylor's set at Argus on Mission Street, friends and I ran to grab me some to-go food. Alex, from Noeteca, Noe Valley's newest French Bistro, pleasantly obliged. I was able to try his savory quiche that had ham and cheese. I completely mawed it along with the accompanying greens that were provided. And I treated myself to the TREO dessert which was chocolaty and creamy and devoured instantly. So it was that we came upon Argus on schedule only to find out that Steve was running a bit late. So we popped over to Baby Blues BBQ. This was our first time and we landed right in the heart of all the action, the bar. Greeted by a lovely young girl Alex who offered us some beer, I went with the 21st Amendment's Back in Black. The Amendment never fails and this Black IPA, although unusual in color, was most excellent. I even had a 2nd pint because of how fabulous it was. My buddy Riley ordered the Brisket platter that came with 2 sides. He chose the greens which were not bitter at all, like Alex had mentioned. They tasted light enough that I kept grabbing his fork to pick at 'em. We each had a piece of the cornbread which I was delighted by. And also as Alex suggested, the blues on the cob, which is there corn on the cob with cotija cheese. Now I understand why I tend to drool when I see those cheesy corn cobs throughout the Mission District. The blues on the cob was spot-on! Even more interesting though, was talking to one of the owners. Paul, who labeled himself, the lead fiber guy for AT&T recently changed careers and went into the "family business." One of 10 children, he and his sister, whom he transplanted from Philly decided to open a 2nd shop. There family has had Baby Blues in Southern CAL since '04. Paul, having grown up surrounded by the "family business" had much success in the Telco space. Passion, on the other hand, seemed to be a challenge. He mentioned that 2 of his former co-workers had been in earlier and they just looked miserable. Paul seems to be happy as a clam. It was rather inspiring to hear his story of how he lives up the block in Bernal and that he gets to work with his family. Alex happens to be his daughter and they got along so well. Apparently, they have gone to Burning Man together. Now that is some family. But, I left the place with a smile on my face and a confidence that things are changing for the better. Surrounded by friends, we watched Steve do an incredible set at Argus and then ventured into the Castro for last call. Late night and early morning because of my ab class commitment. Now it's time to caffeinate...So I bid you farewell as I walk to Cento for my morning shot.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clementine's In Season

I woke up early again. Heavy headed, tossing and turning till I finally stumbled out the door at 10:20am. I needed something sweet and all I could think about on my way to coffee was Toffee Chip...Toffee Chip. So, of course, I stopped at Anthony's Cookies. "Is that it, just a toffee chip?" The gentleman at the counter asks. And when presented with that, I think it would be easy to guess that I also got the semi-sweet chocolate chip. Friends to the left of me friends to the right walking down Valencia St. It was great to bump into Clementine and her parents Kevin and Jenny. I convinced them to walk with me toward Ritual. And then I convinced them to walk with me to Rodger's coffee & tea when Ritual was overflowed. We bumped into my friend Bianca of Bianca Starr en route. Her boutique just opened a few weeks ago but she is already getting raves from the SF Gate and such. Bianca supported our stop at Rodgers, as it is her neighborhood spot. I tried the Kenya Blend today. Rodger even let me sample for the 2nd week in a row, his concoction of beignet and some mix of bacon, caramel and nuts, that you dip it into. How could I resist such offers? Sitting with the family I lured into this deliciousness, I remembered a trip we all had took to Barbados some 2 years ago. That was when little Ms. Clementine was conceived. Today, 4 teeth and counting she offered up so much love. Children are amazing that way. I left the store armed and ready for a solo brunch at Bar Tartine. I sparkled with water. Did you know that's the new restaurant movement, house sparkle. Me likey, very, very much. I paired the Gew├╝rztraminer from Navarro with Tartine's Sonoma foie gras panini, crabapple jam, brioche, rocket and green salad and flew off to the clouds. When I landed on the surface again, I continued my voyage down Valencia, up 16th Street to Market, walked through Castro, over Dolores Park way and back to Ritual for another attempt. Carmel, a Barista, exclaimed her Gibraltar, her finest and I insisted I shoot a shot of her and this creation for my blog. Her picture and others of this experience are seen above. Enjoy the rest of your day, whoever is reading this!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dynamo, Pal's & Humphrey again...

So my morning began walking home in the rain at around 6:30. I watched The Bear episode of The Sopranos On-Demand and collected myself before heading out for the morning agenda. The drizzle continued as I rode up to Dynamo Donuts and collected my Chocolate Rose donut. Sandy, a lovely Barista, made 2 exceptional Gibraltars for me and fed me some serious dialogue about an ex Orthodox Jew she once dated and hated. It was then down to the boxing ring to get my weekly haircut by Mike ( Mike is from Jersey, like myself, which means, no bullshit. It is interesting to watch Mike and hear how he expresses his opinions when roaming around his gym or sitting in his barber chair. He is not afraid to tell it like it really is. I, on the other hand, have learned to keep my mouth shut around here. Well, let me re-phrase that and say that it's a continuous learning process in terms of shutting up. Sometimes, you just got to, you know, say something. But Mike has big balls and I appreciate that and I am inspired by his techniques in the gym and in life. So it was a nice visit with him and then off to Gold's Gym. I managed to get a whole workout in even before ab class. Troy then tortured us to the point of exhaustion. But I love it! He motivates and pushes you behind your limits. I think, if you're serious about fitness and want to continually challenge yourself and you live out here in the Bay Area, I suggest visiting and finishing a Troy class. After a steam and a shower, I called Jeff, my Pal, from Pal's Take-Away and ordered the Pork Ball sandwich Vietnamese style. I ate it at the counter when I arrived along you some delicious cabbage salad they tossed up. And I looked up at Jeff and David when I was done and I said, "Do I deserve Humphrey Slocombe?" And without even waiting for their response, said, "Yes, I do!." Today after trying many beer flavored creams, I decided on the sweet corn and the balsamic caramel. I know, I am drooling just recapping it for you. Another Saturday in my hood, another tour de 24th, another blog about my favorite things...another chance to say good night.

Friday, November 13, 2009

SOMA Eats part 1

Not long ago... ok, 10 years ago, there was absolutely nothing to eat South of Market. But then, the Ball Park was built. First called Pac Bell Park, then SBC Park and now it's AT&T Park. Since this park opened, construction in the SOMA area has been going in an aggressive manner. You have enormous lofts and condos. There is also a rail system that cuts behind the Mission Bay now. With all this growth, there are now places to eat and drink. Looking back 10 years, I used to work at 185 Berry and made it a daily ritual to eat between McD's and Victor's for burritos. I still frequent Victor's once-in-a-while. I never do McDonald's though, not even for their french fries and soft serve. I still work in the area and grab my Cento's every morning. I have recently discovered d'Urso as well. This Italian Delicatessen is reminiscent of New York's finest. My first visit landed me on their #1 sandwich specialita which included Italian dry salami, Gorgonzola, arugula, frisee, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The sandwich just hit the spot in some many ways. The combination of ingredients, the bread, the freshness and the quality all stood out. And since I am a big health nut, the portion size also was key in the fact that it was simple and delicious. I have also tried the one with mild toscano salami, mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar and had the same enthusiasm.

This morning I tried their breakfast sandwich. It was simple and light and very tasty. I requested egg whites to go along with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozz. I got to dine with the owner Joe and got a chance to bend his ear on his mission and his flavors that he offers in this fine deli. Joe stems from back east which automatically is a thumbs up in my book. Also the fact that he is Italian helps too in terms of his knowledge in building the right menu. I had the chance to watch him develop the daily sandwich, which today, includes one of my favorite cuts of pork, porchetta. I may have to go back and give it a try, partly because of how easy on-the-eyes Joe is to look at. ;) Stay tuned for some of the other hot spots I frequent in this booming hood. CHOW!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Music to my ears...

Emerald Triangle

When you live in San Francisco, there seems to always be something going on. If you ask anyone that knows me, they will tell you that I never stay home. How could I with Basketball season starting and all the great local musicians that have recently been playing out? Last week I had the opportunity to see Sean Hayes (not of Will & Grace) play twice. First time was at the Independent, where I got the VIP treatment thanks to a bud. That allowed us to go upstairs in the club and have select viewing above the floor and overlooking the stage. Sean is one of those musicians that easily makes you groove and sway to his sweet funky vibrations. He has released 5 albums to date with a new one on the slate to be released shortly. My favorite songs stem from Alabama Chicken, Big Black Hole & Little Baby Star, and Flowering Spade. Rattlesnake Charm aka the remixed Dream Machine on Mark Farina's Air Farina was the closing number that night. It blew my friend, who graced me with the royal treatment, out-of-the-water.

It was easy to convince our friends to join us for his 2nd appearance this past Sunday at a smaller venue in the Mission called Amnesia. There, he was a 2 piece for several numbers and evolved into 3 piece for some of his upcoming new tracks. Amnesia was a lot more intimate and I got great pleasure bringing the boys from the Eagle over to mix with all the Hip Chicks on Valencia Street. It was quite the dichotomy.

Wouldn't you know I was back at the Independent on Monday to catch Emerald Triangle. They really lived up to their myspace page and "melted my face off." I mean, Andy Cabic, from Vetiver, whose most recent record Tight Knit, is the soundtrack of 2009. This is an album that I can listen to over and over. He was joined by legendary producer/ solo artist Jonathan Wilson, who has worked with Black Crowes, Jonathan Rice from Jenny Lewis' most recent band, Neal Casal, who has played with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals and Farmer Dave Scher of such outfits as Beachwood Sparks and Interpol. With this lineup, I was in the clouds, floating in the air. Especially hearing Cabic's tracks from Tight Knit. The group also played songs from each of the players catalogues. The surprise for me, were the songs organizer, Farmer Dave, brought out. I also got to rub elbows with one of my favorite local musicians Bart Davenport and his wonderful lady. I have to thank my buddy Steve for the invitation to this incredible night.

And I did by showing up to Steve's solo gig last night at ATA. It was A Night of Acoustic Song and Improvised Film called Silhouettes and Serenades and Steve Taylor was the opener. He played a lot of new material along with some of his friends and collaborators. He was followed by Foxtails Brigade and the wonderful Emily Jane White was the headliner. I had brought my own 27 oz. Bud light to the show and watched these great musicians do their stuff.

Alas, I am up early summarizing the weeks' events with a huge smile on my face. I hope you enjoy the videos and can relate to some of this musical brilliance.