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Friday, October 28, 2005

le chat volant. 

This story about a cat who disappeared from his home in Wisconsin and wound up found in France is not particularly exciting for most. But the kitty ended up not just anywhere, but in Nancy, a city in northeastern France near the border with Germany.

Yours truly spent the first 20 years of his life in Nancy, and sometimes it does feel like the only way to go back would indeed require to be bound and gagged, imprisoned in a container and shipped there.

If you go to Katz bagel, you can talk with Mr. Katz (the father of the bagel-maker), a charming older man who takes all the pictures on the wall. Turns out he was garrisoned in Nancy when he was in the US Army, somewhere in the 50s I believe. And he came back much later to re-visit, and was shocked. Here is how the railway station square looked like during his first stay:

Here is how the same square looks like now:


It would give a heart attack to a veteran, wouldn't it? It's a disaster. Oh well, luckily, they did not do the same thing the place Stanislas, Nancy's entry in the UNESCO world patrimony list, then and now (as of today's, cars are not allowed anymore, I just could not find a recent enough pic).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Theater (in French) in the City. 

A couple people I know are in there/ The space is rather small and will sell out, so make your reservation asap:

October 28 & 29, 2005. LE THEATRE DU COIN est heureux de vous convier à son spectacle 2005: POLAROÏD, l'assemblage de petites scènes & sketches d'auteurs contemporains, Xavier Durringer, Jean Michel Ribes et quelques autres. Dérives possibles ou imaginaires de situations du quotidien, ces instantanés de vie composent un spectacle humoristique et tendre, presque café-théatre. C'est la 11ème saison de la troupe du Théâtre du Coin qui a joué, par le passé, Une Aspirine pour Deux (Woody Allen), L'importance d'être Constant (Oscar Wilde), Dogg's Hamlet (Tom Stoppard), présenté au d'Avignon en 2003, et, en 2004, Golden Joe, (Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt). Le Théâtre du Coin est une troupe amateur, entièrement bénévole. Représentations: Vendredi 28 et samedi 29 Octobre, 19h30, au NOHspace Theatre, San Francisco, 2840 Mariposa Street @ Florida. Avec: Colette Beraut, Hélène Charmet, Karim Dabbagh, François Granade, Jean-Marc Parmentier, Pierre-Xavier Thomas. Mise en scène: Hélène Charmet. Eclairages & sonorisation: Gilbert Davoud. Prix des places: $12 sur réservation à theatreducoin@yahoo.com ou $15 sur place.

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Gastronomique. 

Weekly post up at SFist. About Osha Thai in the Mission. Next week: more Thai food, then we'll move on to something different.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

They write letters... 

Letter to the SFWeekly:

...What this is really about is whether San Francisco is a two-weekly-newspaper town. Frankly, that is a pretty boring debate. It's Savage Love versus Alt.Sex.Column. Meredith Brody versus Dan Leone. (Actually Leone wins hands down, I don't know why the Weekly hasn't poached him.) ...

Poor Meredith, crushed by the writing skills of a chicken farmer who would not know his osetra from his beluga!

Mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

This week is re-run week! Meredith recycles her favorite material.

For instance, her co-workers (the two fatigued from the fog red-blooded he-men most likely, downgraded from Hulky Hunks down to regular guy status) flake on her again, despite the allure of free food. As we said before, it happens that hungry people are busy. All the time. 24/7/365. It is not a reflection of Meredith's personality, who is just plain FANTASTIC.

Anyhow, she calls these guys dependably undependable, which is cutesy. Until you remember she always uses the same trick: a place is located conveniently inconvenient to my house. You can do it yourself too: my reviews of Meredith are consistently inconsistent. It's easy!

Another re-run: Joyce moaned with delight. Mmmm, where did I hear that?
Oh, here: ... I was back for lunch with Joyce, and her moans of delight... She sure moans a lot, dear Joyce, she wakes up the neighbors.

Oh dear: ... on a block otherwise empty of dining opportunities after dark (I wish the busy, popular lunch dive Tu Lan across the street would [clean up]). I have had dinner quite a few times at Tu Lan, it is not a lunch only place. If it's good enough for Julia Child, it's good enough for me. I guess Julia is not fussy as Meredith.

Still, she deserves some credit: HGS is in a location she would not go to usually, more gritty, unchic than her typical north beach restaurant. Of course, we are betting that next week, she'll go to the other place featured in G.A. Walden's piece, North Beach-y's Scott Howard.

Bullshit of the week: on her first visit, she recognized the waiter as the boss from the picture on the website; before her fist visit, she had been trifle worried because the Web site had described the restaurant's cooking as "healthy"... The question is: how did she look up the website prior to visiting, it is not yet google archived! Try it yourself (it will change soon, since I just linked to it, for instance). Google www.hookersgumboshack.com, and for a little while you will get the following message:
Sorry, no information is available for the URL www.hookersgumboshack.com

[update: she might have seen the website url from the advertising department, HGS is advertising a color 1/8th in the Weekly this week. There's supposed to be a Chinese wall between reviewers and ads, though]

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Mardi, c'est mercredi. 

Ok, I totally slacked last week. I focused on the flagrant dishonesty. Like, she really went to union city, yeah right; like, she goes to movies not as a job, but as a respite from eating so much lobster, and the poor girl deserves a food break, yeah right. But Winky in comments --again!-- made some excellent points regarding Meredith's work.

  • During the cartoony Fantastic Four I enjoyed the still-warm Cubano. The sandwich has been made at delessio in SF, and, if one is to believe what she wrote, paid for (a few minutes), walked back to the car (another few minutes, unless she parked at Flax), driven all the way to Union City (a good 45mn), parked in the megaplex parking lot, walked to the box office, waited while she purchased a ticket (a few minutes), went to the one of the 25 theaters and sat through the previews (another 15mn). If you are in SF, you won't go all the way to Union City unless you know you have the time to see your movie. So one can safely add another 15mn of margin. This adds up to about two hours. And Winky asks: it is still warm? Not very likely so, and in all cases, that is not a very fair way to evaluate the food of a restaurant.
  • My summer joke was "I haven't seen War of the Worlds, but I have seen Sky High!" Ha. It was the Summer of Fun.
  • How clever to suggest the whole of Truman Capote's life through one six-year chunk of it, rather than the standard birth-to-death biopic... Says Winky: "goddamn, lady, that's standard issue biography as they come, from boswell's johnson on. amadeus? jackson pollock? etc. etc. -- you could name hundreds without breaking a sweat." I believe it is the other way which is difficult: naming a movie which is actually a birth-to-death biopic. I cannot, right now.

  • Wood chips. 

    The Chron had an article today about a wine agreement between the EU and the US, which, being French, I feel obliged to comment upon, even though I'm not particularly knowledgeable. Basically, in exchange of protecting local appelations like port or champagne, which are abused by US producers, the EU would tolerate some winemaking practice from the US, like adding sugar, water, flavor, etc.

    One trick being used is to float wood chips in the wine in steel vats to give the taste of aging in an oak barrel. This is becoming ridiculous. Wine is aged in oak barrel because there was no alternative when that process was devised. The flavor is not a taste choice, it is not a feature, it is a side effect of the state of technology a few centuries ago. This is so Disneyland! Hey, they used to live in castles back in the old country, I want a tourret on my house.

    Those wood chip winemakers, they love these quirky traditions so much, they should carry some manure in their fancy cars, I hear they loved the smell on the horse carriage, back in the days.

    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Guess who? 

    Guess who wrote this:

    Tango provides a happy intersection of the never-waning craze for the intense, erotic Argentinean dance-and-music art form and venerable Spanish writer-director Carlos Saura's penchant for performance films featuring song and dance.

    and this:

    Unlike Flamenco, a wordless nonnarrative, the dance sequences of Tango are presented as rehearsals and completed numbers for a film within a film, enclosed in a mildly Brechtian story of a Buenos Aires director whose wife has recently left him and who falls in love with the girlfriend of the gangster who is bankrolling the tango film the director is creating.

    Isn't the meaning conveyed in these two sentences as clear as spring water?

    Ok, even though you guessed right, the answer to the initial question is here.

    Opera post 

    Yesterday's was Norma's opening at the SF Opera, a review of which I wrote up for SFist.

    Saturday, October 22, 2005

    Truth in advertising. 

    I was browsing the "new books" shelf at the library today, and saw Kirtsie Alley's How to lose you ass and regain your life, in the Fiction section.

    Friday, October 21, 2005

    We're safe! 

    Foie gras will not be banned by EU regulations, it has been included in the French national heritage. Schwarzenegger notwithstanding, we'll still be able to indulge in the fine pleasures of life. Even if we have to move back to France. But come to think of it: public education for the kids, public health, tamiflu for 25% of the population in case of an avian flu outbreak, and luscious bits of duck liver. It does not sound bad at all.

    Haloscan comments. 

    Ok, for those who leave comments here (first, thanks! We love your feedback!): it looks like haloscan is deleting the old comments, which I don't appreciate. I really enjoy whatever little community or debate there is, so I am switching to the blogger built-in comment feature. I turned on the blogger comments. I assume the haloscan comments will keep disappearing (to be honest, I am not sure, I sent them some questions, but they never replied), and I'll get rid of the feature when all of them are gone. Thanks for commenting, and please, during the transition phase, leave your comment on the link which says: 'comments here', then 'post a comment'.

    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Gastronomique 

    The weekly post is up at SFist. It is an interview with Julie Powell, a blogger who got really famous for her Julie/Julia blog, where she would cook every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within one year. It was in 2002-2003, before I knew what a blog was. First time I heard about it was, I believe, in San Francisco magazine, when Josh Sense said he did not like food blog, except for hers, as it had a purpose.

    This post is somewhat of a miracle: the schedule was jelled with the publicist on Monday, the book was shipped to me on Tuesday, I received it on Wednesday, read it in the evening (it's 300 pages, it is easy reading, but still took some effort) and off I went Thursday to meet her at 3pm. We were supposed to meet at the Redwood Room, close to her downtown hotel, but it would not open before 5pm, so I took her to Cup'a'Joe, a coffee shop which I believed would have a wireless connection. 3-4pm we chatted, had a lovely time, then wrapped it up, she had another interview to go to (how ironic would that be if it was Meredith Brody...) From 4pm to 5pm I cleaned up the notes --man that was some work, it's rather hard to type without looking--, wrote the intro, put it up on the site, handed the post to the SFist editor to publish. At 6pm it was up, which is as close to real-time as it's going to get.

    [Update: No Fucking Way! It was Meredith, and here is what Julie says about her day: After a couple of interviews, including one with a food writer named Meredith who is just FANTASTIC, and who bought me pork tacos and MORE gimlets, I am now ensconced in my hotel room... We are chopped liver, and Meredith is all capped up. Dang.]

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

    Meredith bores us with tales of going to the movies so as not to eat. Listen, you have a food column. You don't want to eat, then give it to someone else. They are many hungry writers.

    The dishonesty of Meredith is staggering: why does she sees all these movies? Not because she needs a break from eating, as she full-of-shitly claims. Telluride is not a fat farm, it is a job for her. She writes movie capsules for the Chicago Reader (see for instance the byline here. She is working as a film critic, she covers these festivals. It's fine, the girls gotta put bread on the table. But don't lie about it like 'I need a break from eating' or 'I only to the movies to take my 4yo nephew' or whatever crap she thinks she can feed us.

    And don't let your other jobs get in the way of your prime job. This week: I won't count how many words go to her movie babbling, but it's got to be more than half her review. Then she reviews DeLessio. What? I thought Bonnie Wach, her colleague at the weekly, reviewed it exactly three month ago!!! Well, that's why Bonnie got the Assocation of Food Journalists award, and Meredith got zip. Cafe Gratitude also, she came after Bonnie. How hard can it be to read your co-worker?

    More BS: she goes to a movie theater 30 miles from DeLessio. Why? Because of the double bill, and memories of a good time, she says. The fact that she lives in the East Bay? Nope, not a factor at all, if we were to believe her. Plus she ends up eating in the theater, something that she would not admit if she did it in the Clay. My theory: she never went to Union City, she just picked a theater where she could claim to eat inside without the story biting her back later. In all case: bullshit.

    More stupid stuff: she saw a man once eat chinese food, out of takeout containers! with chopsticks! The exclamation points make me cringe. But what did she expect, he was going to eat chow mein with his fingers? Oh boy.

    Monday, October 17, 2005

    Pictures from previous posts... 

    I got around uploading the pictures. First one is Dan Savage in action, at the Booksmith, in the haight, on Oct. 5th. I wrote about it there



    Second one is the cover of the Chron that day they could not complete a thought (which is not most days, please do not be so disrespectful).



    Actually, the sentence was complete, but it's more fun to pretend it's not. I see that I inadvertently made it incomplete in my other post. Shame on me.

    Bush defends Miers from his own....
    ...rank incompetence
    ...cronyism
    ...undemanding supervision [thx Seamus]
    ...falling ratings
    ...priapic appendage
    ...right
    ...brother Neil's (the one with herpes) unrequited attention

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    de young museum 

    We went to the de young today, just like about everyone else in town. First: it was a great pleasure to be in a crowded and lively museum, independently of what was on the walls. Museums should always be this way: free and accessible. None of that elitistic fortress bs.

    While there, the most amazing piece was the James Turrell installation. The Goldsworthy crack starts nicely, but ends up a bit contorted and just too much. Inside there is a few amazing primitive stuff from Oceania, and some impressive modern paintings. But the Turrell installation blew us away. It is a big set up in the sculture garden. A tunnel takes you into a red adobe circular moat. On the opposite side from the tunnel, there is a passageway into a circular room at the center of the moat. The room is a half-sphere with a circular opening at the top. It just cuts a round piece of sky out. It's just a pure sky, with no horizon, no trees or any distraction: a blue circle which almost becomes abstract. The essence of the sky. The room reverberates the noise, it has a pulse. In there, you hear sounds with a trailing echo. It is very eerie. I read a piece in the NYer a while back on his crater in Arizona, at the time thought it was a bit megalomaniac to build an art installation so large, but now I'd have to admit it must be quite powerful.

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Ray Brown Tribute. 

    Went to Yoshi's last night for the Ray Brown tribute. Wrote up a post for SFist. If you like jazz, go.

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Gastronomique 

    Post up at SFist.

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    Mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

    From Meredith:
  • I'm a princess. I eat not where it's good, and never where it's of interest to my readers, but only where it's convenient for me. I live in Walnut Creek, so I eat in Lafayette; my friends fly out of Oakland, we eat a block from freeway 80; I go to the opera, I eat on Van Ness. I'll make an exception only if they serve lobster.
  • My name is Meredith, and I am a Sunsetolic anonymous...well, not anonymous, I just said my name...I don't always make sense...I have been 3 years without going to the Sunset...Sometimes I have to fight the urge...But I'm strong, and with God's help, I won't go there ever again...
  • I don't always make sense, as I said. For instance: There are few things I like to do more at table than pick up a meaty bone and gnaw at it. It's an atavistic pleasure right up there with slurping oysters ...and eating corn on the cob with the butter running down your arms ... (If you play your cards right, you can do all three at the same meal. Hot fun in the summertime!) See, for one, oysters are not especially summery, what with the R months and stuff. Summer is when oysters spawn, so harvest in not a good idea (not that I care about environment). Plus, I only let butter running down my arms at barbequeues, not at a table. Last, atavistic means "which jumps generations," I know, I just read it on my word-of-the-day calendar. I cannot really point to a generation that did not eat meat, oysters or corn. Well, my dad does not eat broccoli. I like broccoli too.
  • Talking about corn, I'm a three-cob girl, myself. One in the mouth, one in the bu...oooops, I almost told you my secret.
  • I wanted to order some chicken: it won't be ready for one hour. Bummer, bummer, bummer. I thought I'd send one home to Mom, who is not allowed in our daddy-lil'princess conspiracies. Bummer! Then I wait for my order (mmmm! ribs! yummmy! Yuck! Soda!), then we eat under the tree with Daddy, we play tic-tac-toe. An hour passes. Chicken is ready! But I have another brain freeze, oooops, and I guess Mom will have to cook dinner after all.
  • I have really sissy girl friends, they even belong to some kind of sorority, delta delta napa, or something. But they are rich, so they are ok. And of course, I know Chez Panisse does not serve lunch, it is short-hand for Chez Panisse cafe, like, upstairs, you dutz. Duh.
  • But my guy friends, they are NOT GAY, ok? Stop that innuenitendo, innutendo, ...stop insinuating. They are red-blooded he-men. And that they don't want to have dinner with me is just a coincidence, they had other appointments, ok? It happens that people are busy. They are still fatigued from the fog.
  • a ... slab of beef, still attached to the massive rib it grew on. What, you did not know beef grows on ribs? Duh, where do you think your meat comes from? They have rib fields all over the central valley.
  • My waiter at the Prime Rib Place, he pour[ed] the sweet neon dressing over his shoulder into the salad bowl, then he poured from two, no three!, no four!, dressing jars at the same time, then behind his back and between his legs, and he poured in a handstand and concluded with a somersault. All I can say is: woo-a--ow.
  • I have absolutely nothing to say about Dr Atomic. The same day, I saw: an extraordinary matinee of the Overcoat at ACT, a play without words like a newly discovered expressionist silent-film masterpiece. But Dr Atomic, I take the fifth. Mumm. Shhh. Nothing. Don't pester me about it: my opinion about arts has nothing to do in a food review, I won't say a word. It's a principle thing. Food here, art there. We journalists have ethics....okay, I can tell you: it kinda hurt my ears, I annoyed the shit of my neighbor with my stinky doggy bag, and fell asleep digesting.

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  • Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Mardi, c'est mercredi. 

    This is an early edition of our "Mercredi, c'est ravioli" post. It turns out that someone found us googling: "I like a view, but I like to sit with my back to it" so we clicked on the search, and guess what: Meredith wrote this (and we made fun of it) in her Julius' Castle review, and attributes it to Alice B. Toklas.

    She is wrong, as usual. First, the actual quote is: I like a view but I like to sit with my back turned to it. And second, it was written by Gertrude Stein! See for instance here. Poor Meredith does not know that, contrary to what its title implies, Alice B. Toklas did not write the Autobiography of Alice B. Tokals! But that won't stop her from pretending, and writing up quotes she just found on google.

    Also, I am unable to find a link to it, but we have an answer to the question: Why did she choose Julius Castle? She makes up a lengthy debate in her review, she wanted to go to the touristland of Pier 39, and her guest was arguing for Julius as being the set of a movie. She also argues it was the location of her dad's lunch with Kinsey. She later admits to both the movie set and the Kinsey stories to be phoney. In a nutshell: lots and lots of fake and convoluted explanations.

    Then we remembered: the New-Yorker ran a story in the spring about FedEx distribution center in Memphis, which aggregates, sorts and distributes parcels from all over the world. The story started with a lobster coming out of some Canadian waters, being driven in a truck all to the way to Memphis, spending a week in some fish tank in a recovery center for traumatized lobsters in Memphis' FexEx facility, and then being shipped to restaurants all over the US, for instance that one in Miami, and this one in SF: Julius Castle. We are totally convinced her sick addiction to lobster is the only reason why she goes there twice, and twice orders it.


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    Yoshi's 

    I think this is really cool, so I'll link to it this time: SFist scored some tickets for Yoshi's and you can win them (today Tuesday) by filling in the form here. The editor will pick 3 lucky ones randomly sometimes tonight, and notify the winners tomorrow. The show is Thursday night, 10pm (second set), at Yoshi's in Oakland.

    Since we have an ivory tinkler among our commenters, let us add that Benny Green is the pianist for those shows. I like Benny's stuff, I have to say. Not avant-garde, and some of his originals are a bit sugar-coated, but good solid stuff nonetheless. He was a one time student of Ed Kelly, a Bay area jazz legend whom I saw a couple times performing at Pier 23, who passed away earlier this year. The Pier 23 gig was a great gig, by the way. It was with Robert Stewart. Kelly had a stroke, don't remember when, but had to stop playing. So he would still come and watch from a bench off the side. It was amazing music, no cover charge. It was a later show, so it was never too crowded.

    This post goes in all directions, but Robert Stewart is the headliner for a Katrina relief fundraiser tonight at Pier 23. $25 gets you in. There are a bunch of so called Fat Tuesday fund raisers. Pim favors 1550 Hyde, being all jet-set-y, unlike us, but there are no wrong choices here.

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    Monday, October 10, 2005

    Dr Atomic, follow up 

    A few more things about Dr Atomic the opera. I read a bunch of reviews, and most agree that the ending, with the choir lying face down is a powerful symbol, etc. I have to admit being distracted during that scene by this very staging: it is only powerfull if all abide by it. While most of the choir was lying down in fright, a few in the corner were actually looking up to the conductor (most likely to the monitor of Runnicles on the first balcony) for their cue. It looked like a few high school students in the back of the classroom too cool to really face down and play the game. The strength of the scene was diluted by this.

    Another thing that now annoys me (and I haven't seen mentioned anywhere, and I did not before) is the relationship between Oppenheimer and his kids. Oppenheimer's kids in real life did not end up too well: the daughter (the one in the crib on stage) ended up committing suicide. The son ended up as a contractor/carpenter, ie. as far from the line of work of his dad as possible. Both kids appear in the opera, one as a baby, the other as a toddler. In one scene, the toddler comes to his mom, and his being sent back. Prior to this, the mom, Kitty, drinks herself wasted by the crib. It is the maid, Paquita, who ends up providing the baby with love and tenderness. How dares Kitty prefering the bottle to her baby, what a shame! While this criticism is probably warranted by historical facts, I don't see why the father should escape it. After all, he is nowhere near the crib. He is the father of the atomic bomb, and it is the only progeny that matters to him.

    I understand Oppenheimer is the subject of the opera, and that it is the midwifing of the bomb that matters. Domestic life, shmomestic life. What bugs me is: why criticize the mother? If you avoid the topic of bad parenting from his side, avoid it on hers as well.



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    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    Gastronomique 

    Post has been up at SFist. It is an interview with Nina Zagat, who is in town for the publication of the new 2006 SF guide. The Chron had a phone interview with Tim published on Wednesday, darn them, they scooped everybody. The Ex mentioned the guide from the point of view of the restaurants (Gary Danko, Zuni) today.

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    Why did I read Debra? 

    I know I should not read her, but the topic on the main page attracted my attention: it is wi-fi coverage in SF. Then she proceeds to make fun of the idea on the ground that "About one-quarter of the students in San Francisco Unified School District score at "below basic" or "far below basic" on state reading and writing tests. Those poor kids may not be able to read a book, they might not be able to afford a computer, but Newsom thinks they have a fundamental right to Wi-Fi.

    Debra: that is exactly the point of FREE wi-fi: it is free, so poor kids don't have to pay for it. The cost of the computer might be an issue, true, but it is currently only a fraction of the cost of the service (back of the envelope: computer amortized over 3 years equals about $10/month, as opposed to $50 for broadband; computer prize divides by two over the next 18 month, while cost of broadband stays steady if no city competition). Plus, a computer IS an educational tool, connected or not.

    Plus, Debra, didn't you read? Google can provide it for free to both the city and the users. You won't have to pay for it. But they still should not do it because it would give poor people least they can access free porn? Come on, now.

    So she calls the idea an embarrassing fiasco and gives a list of other such fiascos. Among them: the attempt by then-Supervisor Matt Gonzalez to allow noncitizens to vote in school-board elections.

    How is that a bad idea? I am a noncitizen, I have a child. I pay state and city taxes (inasmuch my landlord factor them in my rent). Why should I have no say in my kid's education? If it is so far-fetched, why do European countries allow some foreigners to vote in their local elections? Taxation without representation is tyranny? Not according to Debra.

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    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    Savage Love 

    Stopped by at the booksmith for the Dan Savage reading. I am a bit of a fan of his column, but mostly I don't live too far from the store. I stayed for the first half hour, half of which was spend waiting for the diva, and the other half was his making child abuse jokes (along the lines: there were 18 people leaving in his grand-parents appartment: not enough privacy to abuse a kid or to beat a wife. Or a scene from his book in which his 6 yo has diaper rash from a long sweaty car ride, and at night, screams to his dads 'my butthole hurts, make it stop' in a poorly soundproofed motel). Other than that, he was this normal, witty, articulate guy -not even drunk (cf. comment at link above)-, which was kinda disappointing: I wanted a freak.

    Margaret Cho is reading there on October, 31st. Maybe I'll get my freak then.

    Mercredi, c'est ravioli. 

    Meredith adds a new chapter to her book: The Rest Areas Are Dirty on the Road Less Travelled, or: why I stay on Union st. The Marina merchant association is currently working on naming a parking meter after her, what with all the free publicity she gives them.

    A commenter keeps track of the lobster-meter. Let's just say this week it growls like a Geiger meter next to Dr Atomic. Lobster bisque, half-lobster on top of the cioppino, lobster and crab ravioli. And of course foie gras makes an appearance.

    Meredith goes to the edge of the marina, but her starting point is civic center, pointing her snobby nose at half a million places on the way. At the civic center, she enjoys a vegetable orgy: phallic squash like shy bananas, corn like enormous yellow dirigible looking for a field of bushes to land on, or cabbage who give too much head. She does NOT mention the carrots (may we venture: shredded like a nun's dream, if you know the joke).

    All aroused from the excitement of the veggie lovefest: Peter leaned over and whispered, "We should be going to a vegetarian restaurant, after." Going to a vegetarian restaurant, mmm? That is what kids call it nowadays?

    But Meredith would not commit the deeds of the flesh outside of the sanctimony of marriage, politely declines the sinful adultery offer: I was married to the idea of Capannina. And we'll be sure next time she dines with Peter, her mother will be present.

    Meredith hates that expression, "kill time." It is not like she would ever write about killing an hour around union square. Ever.

    She eventually gets to the restaurant, with no fooling around in the car, rushing into the chic, sleek storefront. However, the atmosphere is still thick with erotic undertones: We slid in next to each other on the banquette and the menu (and the rest of the evening!) was dense with possibilities.

    A bell rang in [her] head: I Secondi had been replaced with Secondi between her two visits. Could it be that one is very Italian, and that the other is not at all? That's her hypothesis, and it's ridiculous, but sitting so close to Peter's masculine warmth...bells are a-ringing, angels are butterflying around, rose petals are falling from the ceiling...she's not thinking straight anymore.

    She is still on her little cloud when describing the cheese, a mildly goaty Capretta. Capri, in Italian, means goats. Maybe it was only a mild goat? Her Italian is all over the place. She reads risotto nero con capesante alla Veneziana, and she believes the menu mistranslates, I think, as lobster bisque, a sauce that is NOT mentioned in the Italian.

    Enough with Meredith. We mentioned at SFist that her colleague Bonnie Wach won an award from the Association of Food Journalists. Did the Weekly acknowledge it and congratulate her (as we did)? If you have seen it, let us know, but searching at SFWeekly, we find zip, nada, zilch. Could it be that the editors are so enamoured of Meredith, Judy-Miller-style, that they don't acknowledge the truely good writer they have?



    +++

    Fill in the blanks 

    The headline across the front page of the Chron today (I have a picture, I'll post it when I find the cable to download it) was:

    BUSH DEFENDS MIERS FROM HIS

    They did not warn us, but the Chron is having a Fill-in-the-Blank Contest!
    The question: from his what? From his rank incompetence? From his cronyism?
    (ok, the Chronicle on-line answer is more boring: from his own; and inside the paper: from his right.)


    +

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    Chron ♥ Bush 

    At least, the Washington bureau does. Marc Sandalow, in his "analysis" of the Miers nomination:

    Democrats, conditioned to assail every announcement from the White House, reacted mostly with guarded optimism, though a few couldn't resist accusing Bush of cronyism for passing over a roster of sitting judges in favor of an old friend who has never served on the bench.

    Democrats, those darn Pavlovian dogs, also drool everytime someone rings a bell, whether or not there is food around.

    +

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    chez maman restaurant 

    I'm typically harsh on French places. Basically, I know what the dish is supposed to look like, so I will see poor execution right away, while I would give the benefit of the doubt to, say, an Indian or a Thai place. So it comes at no surprise that I did not enjoy the new Chez Maman, the second outpost in Bernal of the popular Potrero restaurant.

    The space is okay: I did not like the floor tiles to much, but the copper table top and the (zinc?) bar was nice. Food-wise, we had three items: a prosciutto cocotte $6, a chicken crepe $9 and a croque-monsieur $9. We found redeeming qualities only to the crepe, the rest was very poor.

    First, the cocotte: the menu is crafted-ly misleading, which I never appreciate. There is an explanation for what cocottes are (poached eggS, plural), but the explanation is meant to be general, for the three dishes listed below, as there was a single egg in a ramequin on the dish we got. You have to parse the fine prints carefully, don't you. Cocotte, btw, in French, does not refer to any food, but it is a slightly tacky term of endearment. It was served with only a few bits of bread and no spoon, which was annoying as the portion was so small you had to find a way to eat the sauce. There must have been bits of crisp'ed prosciutto, but they were counted.

    The croque-monsieur, basically, was served on a wonderbread toast. It was no really wonderbread, it was a tiny bit thicker, but it tasted the same, way too sweet. Plus, there was not enough ham, not enough melted swiss cheese, a hint of bechamel.

    The crepe with a mustardy chicken filling was the only thing I'd recommend.

    Total for brunch: $30 for two with tip and no drinks (I did not see any bottom-less coffee cup, and did not want espresso), and we left hungry and disappointed. Went straight to tartine for a bread pudding (for $4 I had more egg in my serving than in the cocotte), saw the croque-monsieur there and went: dang. That croque was a big slice of a country loaf with a heap of ingredient on top, not the anemic chez maman version.

    I was hoping maybe to do a review for SFist, but I am not too anxious to go back there for a second visit.

    Opera post 

    is up at SFist. It's about Dr. Atomic, whose world premiere was last Saturday. It is not an easy piece, but it has moments of absolute brilliance. There is a self-fulfilling prophecy however: new operas are rare (3 in the last 6 years in SF, tramway named desire, dead man walking and dr atomic), so expectations are very very high, everybody is very worked up, and few pieces can live up to the high bar. Nevertheless, Atomic is a fine work.

    I did not put it in the review, but it basically opens with a quote, which would be "rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme" in its original French.

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