Thursday, March 31, 2005

Vile France 

By way of Matt Yglesias I found this charming book:

He is on to us, we are devious, vile and good in bed: plenty of reasons to hate us.

Actually, going to Amazon, I see that people who bought the book also bought The American Enemy : The History of French Anti-Americanism and Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis". There's a whole French hating industry going on there (and at the National Review, where Denis Boyles, the author of Vile France, has a column on line). I hope he'll do a book signing in San Francisco.

Oh, and look at this cute review: "...I hate plugging my own book, Vile France...go to amazon.com and slip me five stars to counter those left-wing frog-lickers that have stumbled by to one-star me into oblivion. Make stuff up! ...
- Denis Boyles "

Make stuff up! With such a rallying cry, I bet this book is not short on facts.

Where is Laurel Wellman? 

This post is inspired by a comment discussion at SFist, but I mention it here: I wrote about Laurel Wellman a little while back, and many people find this blog googling for her. If you know of her current whereabout, we are curious, drop a note.

Laurel Wellman disappeared from the Chronicle, and obviously people wonder what she is up to. Rita assumes that she went to Thailand (how in the universe did Rita find this, what with the typo in the first name?) and found out that she authored the opus below:

The Lucky Cat, He Brings You Good Luck. Why is it He and not She who brings us good luck? Well, you gotta read the book, you won't find a spoiler here. The publisher of this undoubtly masterpiece is Chronicle Books. Their motto: We see things differently. So differently actually than one witty SF Weekly columnist, Dog Bites, used to make fun of them. Rather than explain, let's run an excerpt:

We are pleased to announce that the Spot The Chronicle Book contest has a winner, and would also like to thank Otto for this kind note: "Thanks for your continued and pointed barbs at Chronicle Books. They are an embarrassment to San Francisco, America, and book publishing in general..."[...]

Many readers were stumped by "Couscous: Fresh and Flavorful Contemporary Recipes." Surprise! It's an actual book, as are "Dude Food: Recipes for the Modern Guy" and "Airstream: History of the Land Yacht." (Hints for future contest entrants: Carefully study the Chronicle aesthetic. ... And don't feel too badly -- we wouldn't have believed anyone could have gotten an entire book out of the tiara, either.)

In the interests of disclosure, we must reveal that Dog Bites is still stewing over not having a Chronicle deal ourselves, especially since we have so many ideas, and could really use the advance money. Anyway, the winner of a pair of Styx tickets -- or, actually, a copy of The Volkswagen Bug Book: A Celebration of Beetle Culture -- is Jesse King, who correctly identified Blush On: Cool Cosmetics of the 1960s and 70s, Blossoms in Water: A Celebration of Tea, and The Heirloom Tomato Book as pure invention. Well done, Jesse!

Well, Dog Bites is stewing no more, the author of this bit is none other than the author of "The Lucky Cat", Laurel Wellman herself. Well done, Laurel!

Day in Picture 

There is a picture of the Eiffel tower today in the SFgate day-in-picture feature, at the top right of the on-line page. I was intrigued, what is happening in Paris?, so I checked out the day in pictures. And none of them was about Paris.

Is it always the same picture? Is the picture always non-related to the content? I am surprised I haven't noticed before, anyone has?

Food disaster, part III. 

I was shocked yesterday when I found out in the San Jose Mercury News that burger king was selling a 730 calories burger. I thought that the 560 calories of a Big Mac was already an obscene amount.

I am now speechless when I saw in the Chronicle Business section (it was a small item on p.2 of the section which I cannot find online. Here is the MSNBC coverage) that Hardee's is serving a 1,420 calories burger. For some, it is the calorie intake of a whole day. Add fries and a soda, and you have 2,500 calories.

The worst part: the introduction of "megaburgers" is credited to (quote from the Chron's paper edition) [turn] Hardee's around and [push] average-store sales to an 11-year high.


Gastronomique post is up at SFist.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

another food disaster. 

For the first disaster, see post below.

For the other one, Burger King has introduced a 730 calories sandwich. It is a breakfast sandwich, so add a cream-and-sugared coffee and an OJ, and here is half of your daily intake consumed by 9am.

Mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

This post mentions "800 words" at some point. The length of this post, including this, is 739 words.

-Do you still feel good about Meredith this week?
-So, so. Yeah, she goes to the tenderloin, and yeah, she goes to a Thai place. But I think I know why. See, as I mentioned earlier in our GIVE AWAY CONTEST, the Best of the Bay Issue is coming up. So Meredith's back is against the wall: who could win Best Thai if she does not visit a single Thai restaurant this year?
-How did she do last year, she did not review a Thai place last year?
-Yeah, you're right. In her 120+ review tenure at the Weekly, until today, she had reviewed exactly ONE Thai restaurant. So, for sheer lack of candidates, Thai House Express for Best Thai it is.
-Talking about the Best Of categories to be filled in, mmmm, where did she go for Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, pizza joints, burger places, burrito, ...?
-Let's put it this way: she has another month to review them all. On the other hand, the Best Cal-Italian Lobster has been intensively and exhaustively investigated.
-So you really think it's not you, but the Best Of the Bay pressure who made her go ethnic?
-I hope so, her review is hogwash and I want no part of it. The first 800 words are about some spam mail and an art gallery performance piece. The art performance set up looked Chinese. She uses this as an intro to a Thai restaurant, doing her usual: Asian, Shmasian, I'll just pile them all together. She thinks her "witty" title will bind everything together: "the art of eating." Oh boy, can't you find anything more trite? Get it? An artist recreates a restaurant, but the restaurant recreates art? Ta dah: art of eating.
-That's lame.
-Talk about trite! Here is her opening: Something recently came into my mailbox that seemed eerily apt, seeing as I was thinking about Chinese and Thai food. Already, Chinese and Thai lumped indiscriminately together. But what is eerily inapt here is the awkward introduction. I can hear her think: what kind of device am I going to use to bind together the art happening with my Thai review? But why, the first one that I can find. Apt is not the right word, lazy is.
-Well, for some people, Chinese and Thai food is similar. She has to adapt to the audience.
-But the art event was not even Chinese! The menu was in Danish, the food is middle-eastern. She had kebabs! So she artificially inflates the importance of China just so she can segue into Thailand! Asia-shmasia indeed. She tortures the poor art performance until it fits into her review, where it does not belong in the first place. Hogwash, hogwash, hogwash.
-And it goes on: when she leaves the art gallery, she and Joyce intend to visit the Sunset eateries. But, lamely, time had run out. At least she knows there are restaurant in the Sunset now. So instead of having dinner with Joyce, in one of these weird twists of the space continuum, she has dinner with Peter and Anita and Robert. It's like star trek. Her prose make it look like her dinner follows from the De Young Institute visit. I was picturing Joyce splitting like a mitochondrion in the car and morphing into Peter and Anita. I tell you one thing: with writing so poor, this is the only time I mention her in the same sentence as Joyce. Anyhow, she goes to Thai House Express and she liked it. Fine.
-Thai House Express, you say? Which one?
-The one on Larkin. Are there others?
-Well, there is Thai House Express on Castro. It is an off-shoot of Thai House on Market.
-Are they related to this Thai House?
-Don't know, do you?
-I am not sure. Even though I just read Meredith's review.
-She should know, she was just last week at Thai House's old location on 14th. Are you sure you she does not give this useful piece of information. I mean, if there are two places with the same name, you should let your readers know.
-Let me check again, I only skimmed through the first half, it was blabla-art-blabla. Nope, nothing. Guess she does not know either.
-Hey, it's not like she' being paid to know this stuff, you know.

Monday, March 28, 2005

it's ugly, but it's our own. 

SFist waves bu-bye to Twiggy. Twiggy was "SF's latest landmark", one that us tourists at le Blog were not going to ignore. So here is our picture of Twiggy:

twiggy Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Slow posting here, but my post at SFist went up last Thursday.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

French movie 

With all apologies, we totally missed that the Mechanic's Institute Film Series this month had a French theme. Actually, we missed that the Mechanic's Institute existed. The last movie in the series is La Cage aux Folles, which was later remade by Hollywood in the horrible Birdcage. La Cage's point of view on gay issues is dated circa 1978, but it is quite funny nonetheless.

(by way of Suzanne's French info page).

why did I read Debra? 

I know better than to waste any time on her column, but I read it nonetheless. She writes: I hate to insert facts here, but it is a fact that a feeding tube is not a machine.

Ok, good, a fact based discussion. I like this, I could get convinced by facts. But then: Those who argue that Terri should die note that her doctors say her prognosis is hopeless. Doctors are always right, correct? Facts, schmacts, if you can score a cheap point.

It's like the guy in the post below, who lost his finger in a fight to a burger: doctor say it won't grow back. But, wink wink, doctors are always right, right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Mmm, yummy. 

A woman bit on a human finger while eating at Wendy's in San Jose.

No one has stepped up to claim his finger. We assume the woman will require post-traumatic therapy for a little while. So will the poor Chron reporters who had to go to San Jose to cover the story. San Jose. The best quote:

The restaurant was open Wednesday, and business was brisk despite the finger incident.

As a compensation for the incident, the woman got to keep the gold wedding band she bit into.

We read the comics. 

Could not help but giggle today at the first panel of Don Asmussen's Bad Reporter cartoon: a newspaper with the headling De Lay: Schiavo smiled when shown Bush's social security plan.

Mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

We are still on a high from Meredith Brody's previous review (no North Beach, no lobster, no Italian food, no movie talk, no family talk, no 100 words sentences), and we are in no rush to get off our little cloud. Plus we left our hard copy of the Weekly in the train, and the on-line edition is not up yet (will be here eventually).

So we'll just quickly gloss through it: she reviews half a dozen places making Cuban sandwiches. We cringed a little when she opened by listing the Cuban sandwiches she's had, the best one in a mythical New-York of yore, where the grass was greener, men wore fedoras, kids had ponies and she was working at the Village Voice (she phrases it in a way that make it sound like she worked there without saying that she worked there; maybe she just wished she did). But Miami and Glendale had decent versions, are we re-assured, in case we wondered. Luckily for us, she did not go to Cuba, thus keeping the intro short and relatively painless.

Then she goes into her medianoche marathon. I had just noticed Lo Cubano myself the other day, so I was happy to read about it. She reviews a few other places, but the one I am very proud of is Los Flamingos, because I enabled it. How did I do that? Well, for once I promised to write a scathing blog post if she reviewed another Italian place. But also, when Robert asked Chowhound if the place was open for lunch, I am the one who provided the answer. Yep, they did their marathon on a Saturday, not because it's the day off from work for Gail and Robert, but because I told them so.

Even weirder, when I walked past Los Flamingos yesterday, I was looking at the reviews somewhat sloppily taped in the front door, and I was thinking about the impression this would leave with customers; an impression that Meredith prefectly captured when she wrote that the place looks like it has been open longer than it actually has. For once there, her words did not ring hollow, but true. Luckily, the Tiburon Film Festival ended last week, so I'm confident we'll get the life of a review of Fish in Sausalito, squeezed out under a load of East-German movies anecdotes. Otherwise I'll run out of material for this blog.

Best of the Bay prediction: Best Medianoche, El Nuevo Frutilandia. I'll write the little description when I find time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

best of the bay contest 

I just noticed last week that the SF Weekly distribution boxes out on the street now advertise for the Best of the Bay issue: please place your ad now. (picture courtesy of SFist) The issue will be released on May, 11th. So we will have the Second Edition of our Contest: Be Like Meredith.

Here's the rule: please submit (email or comment) an entry for the Best of the Bay. The entry should include (a) a best-of title. (b) a choice of a winner. (c) a short description (2-3 sentences max) in the manner of Meredith Brody.

Entries will be judged on the 3 items as follow: for (a) closeness to the actual SF Weekly titles; 10 points. For (b), 5 points if the place is indeed a Best of the Bay. For (c), the jury will award up to 20 points on how Meredith Brody's "style" is re-created. While we acknowledge that 130+ words sentences are not unusual in Meredith work, keep in mind the format to match is that of "best of the bay", not her typically verbose-overdosed long-form review.

All entries should be received by me by May 10th. If I get entries from more than 10 different contestants, the winner will get a copy of "Eat this, San Francisco" by Dan Leone, as a cleansing purge from embodying Meredith Brody. Results and submitted entries will be published here on May 11th.

As a reference, here are the rules last year, with my first three entries. And another two entries on May 5th and May 3rd.

Also, the results from last year, which I won in a landslide (I'm eligible to win only if I'm the only participant) are here. Yep, slam dunk, 5 for 5.

For those click-adverse, here is a sample of my entry and the corresponding Meredith entry. Guess which one is which?

Best Pig in a Blanket: Mi Lindo Yucatan, SF. the cochinita pibil can be ordered only a few blocks away from the missionary Good Vibrations, but it will have you moaning of delight nonetheless, with the delightful, gratifying, exhilarating, luscious, wet, juicy chunks of pork piled in a mountainous heap-like mound-shaped hillock and wrapped in the banana leaves they'd roasted in.

Best Pig This small corner restaurant is deceptively modest: Formica tables, linoleum floors, white-painted walls. The only attempt at décor is a few pieces of folkloric Mexican dress casually nailed to the walls and a couple of red stripes painted around the open kitchen. But from that tiny kitchen issues a number of exciting dishes, including our three favorite pig plates of the year: the cochinita pibil, big, luscious, juicy chunks of pork flavored with achiote that come to the table still wrapped in the banana leaves in which they were roasted; poc-chuc, a heap of tasty cubes of charbroiled pork, which you wrap in puffy homemade corn tortillas, adding black beans and grilled onions (and maybe a side of ripe avocado, too); and, possibly our favorite, frijol con puerco, a stew of massive, succulent pieces of pork buried in soupy black beans. Each of these dishes is only $6.75.

Pretty eerie, no? It is easier than it looks. I will remind periodically of the contest, by submitting my entries for this year.

blogs in France. 

Via Libé, an article about kids being kicked out of their school for posting offensive comments about their teachers in France. The blogging tool they prefer is called Skyblog, after skyrock, the national FM radio which is one of the market leaders for teenagers. Half of kids in high school have or contribute to a blog.

The school eviction sanction is harsh, but explained by school officials as a way to send a strong signal before the problem gets out of hand (these are public schools, so students are re-allocated to another one). Freedom of expression does not apply here since kids were taking pictures of the teachers with their cell phones and writing nasty captions, violating the instructors privacy and the law. Other schools, rather than excluding students, have uniformed cops explain the fine points of the law. Whatever deterrent works.

After the google employee (and others) fired for blogging, here is another tale of 'use your caution while blogging.'

Sunday, March 20, 2005

XOX truffles, Justa Bite, Molinari's 

For Easter, I got beautiful hand-made paper eggs (made in Germany by Nestler, I got them at Cliff's Variety in the Castro, but one can get them on line.) I say 'beautiful', but I really mean that they remind me of the one I had as a kid, which would reappear each year, with a new fill of chocolate candies. Even though it was really beat up at the end, I was anticipating looking for it in the garden on Easter sunday.

Nestler Easter Egg Posted by Hello

Anyhow, it's payback time. My kid is too young to eat chocolate, so I purchased the eggs to send to my mom and to my nephews. The nephews will get generic little chocolate eggs, but for my mom, I wanted to fill the egg with good stuff: XOX truffles. So I went to North Beach and got her 40 pieces ($16) in 8 different flavors (earl grey, lemon, hazelnut, orange, cognac, creme de menthe, casimira's favorite, raspberry). I picked a few to try, for proper quality control, and they will all be shipped approvingly. XOX is on columbus between filbert and greenwich.

While I was in North Beach, I tried Justa Bite, a new bakery across columbus from XOX. I sampled three eclairs, Strawberry, Mango and Green Tea flavored. I wanted to try a basic chocolate as well to benchmark against the eclairs I am used to, but got over-ruled. Before one thinks I'm a monster, these are bite-size eclairs, and only had half of each. Mango only had a faint flavor. Strawberry was okay. The frosting on top was a bit too thick and hard. Same with the green tea, but the flavor of the green tea custard inside was actually quite delicious: much stronger than, say, your run-of-the-mill green tea ice cream, a really intense green tea flavor.

The shop owners candidly admitted that the strong green tea flavor was disliked by many, as it is an acquired taste. I hope that they don't water it down though, it was the best one to me. They make pretty bite-sized fruit tarts and also a few scones (sampled one which was good) and cookies.

strawberry, green tea, mango eclairs Posted by Hello

I finished my North Beach trek at Molinari's. I got a deliciously creamy soft gorgonzola, some excellent head cheese, some slices of their house salami, some bread sticks (excellent for teething babies as we discovered eating with ours at Jackson Fillmore, where grissini are on every table) and a bottle of Lacryma Christi. I bought the bottle despite the otherwise knowledgeable Molinari's employee, whom I asked to described the wine and to give advice on food pairing. He looked at the price on the bottle, $19.99, and told me: "I'm sure it's decent". It better be. But I remembered the wine from my French lit classes way back when, it was mentioned in Musset's Les Caprices de Marianne, and have been curious about it since then, so I ended up getting it.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

sfiste gastronomique 

Here for this week's post at SFist. I might do more face-offs, I have a few places in mind, but tips, suggestions, comments appreciated as well.

scary scary scary 

I was reading Liberation yesterday, and they ran a story about a German citizen who got kidnapped by the CIA while on vacation in Macedonia, was sent to Afghanistan to be tortured, raped, and was eventually released back in Albania, 6 months later, to find out that his wife had moved back to her country with their children.

And for what? Nothing, his name was a letter off from that of a suspected Egyptian terrorist. The guy was just victim of bad luck and crushed in a horrible process. How come there is no outrage or calls for impeachment on such tactics is beyond me (as I type this, the Chron online page has Scott Peterson as the headline.) I am sorry the article is in French, but the whole story will send shivers down your spine. Just before, I was giggling at Giblet's take on the subject. But reality is as deranged as Giblet's fantasy, and this is really unsettling.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Harmony Bakery 

I stopped by at Harmony bakery, on Park st in Palo Alto today. I got a loaf of Irish Soda Bread, which was kinda small and set me back $4. So I was ready to dismiss the place, especially since the loaf crumbled in my backpack and was not manageable anymore: bunch of crumbs with hardly any cohesion. Plus they had only a few choices, and they had some new-agey vibe that I don't care much for. Like "would you try our vegan cookies?"

But then I ate my soda bread, and I literally could not stop. I just put some butter on it, in an ill-fated attempt to glue crumbs back together, and munched half of it in a heart beat. So now I want to try the other cookies. The hot cross buns looked quite appetizing. Actually, with my soda bread filter, everything about the place looks quite appetizing in retrospect.

Picture says: Grand Opening, but I think they just moved the store from somewhere around there. They are open 9am-3pm, and were closed around noon nonetheless, so it might be hit or miss.

Harmony Bakery Posted by Hello

Mixed signals 

Someone is sending mixed signals in this store front at the corner of 24th and Diamond (across from Bacco). Or it might only be a case of "the King is dead, long live the King."

conflicting messages Posted by Hello

Amarin Thai (Mountain View) 

amarin thai buffet Posted by Hello

Amarin Thai, in Mountain View, has become my favorite lunch place. It's on Castro st, a block away from the CalTrain station. I was meeting a bunch of people there, who all seemed quite happy about their lunch afterwards. I first ordered a chicken in coconut milk soup ($7.50 I believe) but then I noticed steam tables and a lunch buffet in the back. It was only marginally more expensive ($8.99) so I switched. As the only buffet eater in our party, I made 7 people sick, as I treated myself to three trips to the buffet: one for appetizer with some fried thingies, pot stickers and greens; one for curries (yellow thai chicken), veggies (japanese eggplant with tofu), grilled chicken in thai spices; one for dessert, a soup-ish dish of sweet corn and taro root in a warm pink thin custard. The waitress told me the thai name for the dessert, but I forgot right away.

All food was delicious. I can't vouch for authenticity, but it sure tasted good to me. The setting was worth it as well. Amarin has tables outside both on the sidewalk on Castro, and in a patio in the back. We sat in the back, and the weather was perfect for outside dining. I wish I had taken a picture of the garden. Oh well, next time, cause I'll be back big time.

not exactly Posted by Hello

More bad French? 

I thought for a second this picture below was another example of poor French, cf. Le Fleur du Mal the other day.

Butchered French, again? Posted by Hello

Click on the picture for why it is not a mistake. It reminds me of the Cheeseboard paper bags, which ask: "-Why do the cows have bell? -Because their horn don't work."

Mercredi, c'est ravioli 

WE WON! Oh, boy, is it sweet. Here, at le blog, we are cutting down the nets, we are doing victory lapse, we are jumping up in the air. Meredith Brody visited a no-non-sense place in SOMA, but far from the water or the Metreon.*

So either our campaign worked (we are read by the Weekly after all) or is it just the luck of the draw? She is bound to review a non-chi-chi, non-waterfront, non-Italian place once in a while. If we let her review for 10 years, sure, she will end up in Bernal; sure, she'll go back to a Chinese restaurant. It is sheer randomness, improbable, like tossing tail 8 times in a row, but sure to happens if the experiment is let to run long enough.

But let's look at the evidence: she went to Tamal before reviewing Myth or Michael Mina, and that can only be a testimony to the influence of Le Blog. No way a mule like her would pass up such appetizing dangling carrots for tamales without our constant prodding. So we give ourselves a huge pat in the back, and we say: "Meredith, thank you, keep up enjoying the beautiful diversity of this city, you might even like it."

We don't have the heart to criticize her review much. After all, it is the one we'll frame and hang on the wall, with our other hunting trophies. Just a little note to Meredith: if the place wittily identifies itself as "Vino y Mas(a)", you do not have to clumsily explain the pun (i.e., wine and more, with the "(a)" signifying the corn flour dough that traditional tamales are made with."). If it is obvious enough for Tamal's customers, it should be obvious enough for the Weekly readers.

*Not that she discovered the place, it got glowing reviews at chowhound and in the Chron. Link not yet working, review not up online yet.

Monday, March 14, 2005

still snubbed 

I just claimed that I haven't recovered from being snubbed by the Chron for their food blogger issue (their token French blogger was in Paris, how lame is that?), I'll do what every pissed teenager would do: call them Morons and sulk. Whatever.

Actually, I'll just link to Kos, who does it himself, without the sulking. His point (and how right it is) is that the Chron does not like Supervisor Chris Daly blogging because it cut them, the middlemen who attend traditional press conference and manufacture the reporting through their filters, out of the loop. But since the whole point of democracy is to have a transparent and easy relationship between the elector and the elected official, their complaining is ridiculous.

GOTV for the French in SF. 

It's for the French, so posted in French.

Le referendum sur la constitution europeenne aura lieu le 29 mai. Vous pouvez voter par procuration. Ci-dessous le message du consul sur la procedure de vote. Il faut 3 semaines d'avance pour établir une procuration. Le consulat de France est a 540 Bush st, a San Francisco, a la frontiere de chinatown.

Le message du consul, que j'ai reçu par un email adressé a la Stanford French Student Association:

Vous pouvez dès maintenant vous présenter à ce Consulat (ouvert au
public du lundi au vendredi de 9h à 12h30) muni d'une pièce d'identité
française afin détablir une procuration de vote en faveur d'une personne
inscrite sur la même liste électorale que vous. Vous devrez préciser
l'état civil de votre mandataire, sa date et son lieu de naissance ainsi
que son adresse complète.


Bernard LAROSE
CGF San Francisco
415 616 49 16

still slow blogging 

sorry, but it's been busy busy. And I haven't recovered that my wall-to-wall Meredith Brody coverage did not make it in the Chron article about food bloggers.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

sfiste gastronomique 

Post up there.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


to Sam, Pim and all the other bloggers mentioned in the Chron's Food section.

It is to their credit that the Chron embraces the food bloggers, as restaurant reviews and recipes is one of the areas where the bloggers have an advantage: they are willing to investigate, have access to the same information as the Chron journalist, have the same credibility, and they have a people-next-door quality.

The Chron's food section, and the weeklies get a lot of advertising from SF restaurants. If there was a centralized way to sell advertising to local blogs for these restaurants, then food bloggers would be a real threat to the Chron's revenues. Who is going to start it?

Mercredi, c'est ravioli 

Sometimes, I feel like Meredith Brody is my creation. She is a puppet which does as I say at the whim of the little strings I pull. If not, she could review a simple and decent Chinese place in Bernal Heights, and all my schtick would fall apart. But no, week in, week out, she slogs through high end Italian restaurants while quoting New-York places, just like I would want her to do, so I can keep producing scathing commentaries.

This week's she goes to Sociale, which is NOT in the Marina, it is in Presidio Heights. But folks, do not worry, there are no brown people eating with her there either. She mentions the well-dressed, well-behaved clientele. It is safe.

If I was really the hand behind the marionette, I would be really mean. I'd have her proudly state the obviously obvious. For example I would have her translate Italian words whose latin etymology subsists in their English translation. I would start with Cominciare (helpfully translated as "to commence") and just keep going, full speed ahead, straight to the cliff: Continuare, "to continue"..., Concentrare, "to concentrate"..., Complimentare, "to complement".

Then, I would stop translating when it is required: Febbraio Tasting menu. Why not translate Febbraio? It means February, so it dates the review, and it contradicts the present tense she's be working so hard to convey. But of course if I was Meredith, I would try to mislead my readers.

I would also show my mythical food reviewer has no taste buds: for instance, she would try to set off the ... mild earthiness of asparagus with something very earthy, like truffle.

I would have her say: I don't like letter grades (or stars); every experience is different. But the experience she would convey involves reference to NY's upper east side restaurants, just to make sure that no one can re-enact said experience.

I would have her make up stuff, like it was pouring on Valentine's day. I know I was waiting for my date at the edge of union square, to go to dinner. She's always late, so I had 15mn to contemplate the weather. It was not raining, and the lightly dressed couples walzing by where not wearing overcoats and umbrellas.

And then I would have her misquote some French, as for instance endroit de rêves (it should be de rêve, singular) just because. But I would only do all this because I have a very dark heart and I am very mean. And I would not fool anyone, no one would buy such a grotesque character could actually exist.

civic center entertainment 

Yesterday, there was an amazing homeless musician in the civic center bart station. He was playing Pachelbel with lots of passion, rocking back and forth with the music, his hands dancing on the keys of his little casio keyboard, his eyes closed, almost in a trance. Passer-by seemed to appreciate, and were dropping tip money into an open case. Except that those fingers were moving way too haphazardly and too fast for the mellow pace of the Canon. He was faking it, playing one of the pre-recorded practice tunes.

did the Guardian fall for a joke? 

I was reading the Guardian, and Paul Reidinger writes in his without reservation* about the White House chef being asked to leave due to style disagreement with the First Lady. Paul mentions that the chef was asked to cook food to reward Republican donors, such as coca-cola brined pilgrim turkey.

Of course, this was a hoax, and a good one. Let's see next week how Paul will extrip himself of this situation, with Halle Berry grace one might hope.

*for some reason, the link I provide brings an old column, even though it should point to the current guardian edition. I read the hardcopy during my commute, and I'll link to the actual column if I find a correct link.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

light blogging 

sorry for the light blogging over the last few days, I'm attending some seminar which keeps me busy.

Monday, March 07, 2005

blogging = journalism? 

This is the question in front of a Santa Clara judge, re: Apple sueing bloggers to reveal their source, who was leaking company internal confidential info.

If the answer is: true, bloggers are journalists, then, heck, I'm a blogger, I want my press credentials to cover the Giants. Not too far from home plate, please.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

why taxing mileage instead of gas is regressive 

gas mileage vs price 

The graph above plots the gas mileage of the 10 best selling cars and the 7 most fuel efficient cars (hybrid and diesel excluded), assuming a 55% city, 45% highway driving (same assumption as the EPA). You don't have to be a statistician to see that the cheaper the better fuel efficiency. So any proposal to shift from a gas tax to a mileage tax, as the one described here (by way of here ) or here, would be a regressive tax shift, and another effort to shift the tax burden away from the wealthy and onto the poor.

My bad 

I wrote, because of this sign:

that chevy's was coming to the Castro, to replace Fuzio. I was wrong: Chevy's WAS already in the Castro, as they own Fuzio Universal Pasta restaurants.

What happened is that Chevy's chain as a whole (which include the Chevy's and Fuzio restaurants) has been for sale, then the sale got called off, then Chevy's filed for bankruptcy. I could not find out what happened next, whether Consolidated ended up buying them eventually or someone else did or they sold the Fuzio chain away. Anyhow, the change of ownership is happening at that level. People at Fuzio told me that no changes in day-to-day operations were expected.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

self promotion 

I won't link to it if it ever happens again, no more self-promoting I promise, but here is my first post at SFist. It is about Alsace, where I have my roots, and a bit about Farallon, as an 'homage' to Meredith Brody.

Jackson, the editor of SFist, kindly asked for a contribution; I was hesitant at first, but then I thought: it's easy to make fun of my nemesis, but the big picture here is that she is hogging and wasting one of the few spaces that could be devoted to promoting good restaurants and educating foodies in San Francisco. Having someone competent at the Weekly would be a step in this direction. But SFist taking upon itself to produce original food content is another one. And a significant one, as SFist reaches about a third of the readership of the Weekly.

So enough criticism of the legacy SF newsmedia, there are constructive alternative to publicize places that are deservant of the recognition. So I took up Jackson on his offer, and will stick my neck out there*. After all, Craig's list has been the alternative for their classifieds, so why not sfist for their local entertainment sections.

*feel free to give comments/feedback/tips/help...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

Meredith Brody ignores San Francisco this week. But then again, she ignores the 99% of it outside of North Beach any week any way, so we won't take offense.

Her review this week is titled "abandoning control", about letting other people choose where she eats. Good I am thinking at first, she'll go out of her well worn path, she'll go to the sunset, the mission, noe valley, the richmond, glenn park, maybe potrero, one of those places she ignores day in, day out. But it turns out she lets her good friend Robert (favorite restaurants, according to his postings at Chowhound: Oliveto, Zuni and Chez Panisse), her dad and her sister Wendy pick restaurants for her. So it is a bit like George Bush giving presidential power to Dick Cheney: one won't see the difference.

One does see the difference: she gloats about "abandoning control" like it is the most amazing thing that ever happened to her; they stay in their East Bay, where they all live, instead of doing the bridge-and-tunnel shtick in the city. And I say good for them. Maybe Meredith could write for the East Bay Express and leave us alone. And we'd get Jonathan Kaufman, and the world would be a better place.


turmerik Posted by Hello

Turmerik is an upscale Indian buffet in Sunnyvale (ie. $10.99 instead of the regular $7.99). They are located right by the Sunnyvale Caltrain station, so if you have 4 hours for lunch, hop on a train, slog your way down there. You'll appreciate the relaxed pace of Caltrain in the early afternoon, as the train and the digestion will put you to sleep in no time.

I don't have that long a lunch, but I do work in the South bay (not today, I am posting this from the Sir Francis Drake, which has free wireless internet access. Don't know if it is today only or a regular thing, but it is darn nice). And I can compare Turmerik with the other buffets down there (sneha, sarovar, amber, banjara, sue's, etc.) and it is in the top tier. Food tastes fresh, and they have some rarer, more idiomatic stuff. They do have tandori chicken or chicken masala alright, but the achari chicken I tasted for the first time, and enjoyed greatly. My Indian co-worker, at whose whim we went there, could not name all the dishes.

Setting is warm and welcoming. Parking easy across the street in some big underground structure.

Le Fleur du Mal 

typo everywhere Posted by Hello

Of course such a delicate and pretty thing as a flower could only be feminine: it should be "La Fleur". This is a window display at the shopping center on Market st. whose name I forgot (Nordstrom?). I mean, major retailer who could definitely afford someone who speaks French, rather than some window display person who took a year in high school.

weddings on market st. 

wedding on market street Posted by Hello

In the top left, here are JR and Robert. They got married a year ago. To celebrate the anniversary, the SF Art Commission is currently displaying a series of pictures of the couple who got married at that time. JR and Robert's picture is on display, bottom left, in front of One Market. They had a little unveiling there last Saturday, thus the 'real life' JR and Robert in their matching flanel shirts. The pictures are taken by Felicia Carlisle and Jessica Hobbs, who were at the event as well, and they are really nice, heart warming pictures. It is a shame that some judge eventually ended up denying them the right to marry.

I'd suggest branding them with a hot iron instead. 

By way of talkleft, I was shocked to see this:
The Department of Homeland Security is experimenting with a controversial new method to keep better track of immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States. It is requiring aliens in eight cities to wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day.

Can't we just shakle them?

I had a sigh of relief when I saw it was limited to asylum seekers, so I am safe. For now...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

we French export our wackos to San Francisco. 

and no, I am not talking about me. From the squid list I receive this notification, with the catchy -for me- title: "Nude street performance."

"Femininity will save humanity" ~ Rael. Celebrate the First Femininity
Day ever, as Raelians across the USA present a fully nude choreographed
street performance to emphasize the crucial importance of Femininity.
The performance will take place at 1pm on March 5th in the gay
community of Castro and 10th, one of the few places in the USA where
nudity is no longer considered to be an offensive sight.

Rael, ne Claude Vorilhon, is a French wacko who found French laws governing sects to be too restrictive heard the calling from aliens to become a cult leader in Canada. Before that, he was a journalist for some French Car& Driver rag. In his view -I apologize if I misrepresent, I did not research the topic much, not matter how entertaining- the human race was created by ETs through cloning. He is an alien lifeform himself, according to his dogma. He was in the news two years ago after claiming but never proving that they had successfully cloned a humain being. Rael, as a good macho man, is all in favor of "feminity saving humanity," which mostly means women sleeping with him as much as possible.

So the nude party is probably a recruiting drive for this wacko cult. The good news is that they are so in touch with reality that the meeting point is at Castro and 10th: good luck finding it.

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