Tag Archives: San Francisco

Local, Organic and Everything a Meal Should Be…

On Tuesday Samantha and I went to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building to pick up ingredients for a meal that we were preparing for our last ESF class.  The only requirements were that all the ingredients had to be local and organic and it had to be delicious.  Sam  had the idea of doing two kinds of sandwiches, and since I am no foodie and was going to make banana bread I readily agreed.  We bought tomatoes, romaine lettuce, strawberries, avocados, chilies, focaccia bread, whole wheat bread, lemons, parsley, cilantro and skirt steak.  

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DSCN0679(Documenting Sam documenting the meal) 

The first sandwich was open-faced, it had Focaccia bread with a thin layer of  a parsley, cilantro, lemon and olive oil spread (that I made in a Food Processor, first timer woo hoo!), tomatoes and thinly sliced steak.  

DSCN0683   The second sandwich we made was on whole wheat bread, piled high with grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce, strawberries to replace the tomatoes and a avocado aioli….glorious

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One thing I noticed about the produce at the Farmers Market was that the size of the vegetables are much smaller than produce in commercial supermarkets.  Commercial produce is genetically engineered, its bigger and lasts longer so people think that they are getting more for their money.  But the taste is simply incomparable.  Silver has always said, “Once you taste a fresh, completely natural strawberry you just can’t go back to eating regular strawberries.”  And until I tasted  this  luscious, organic, beautifully over-priced strawberry  I thought it was kind of a crock of sh*t.

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Our last ESF class was filled with eating everyones homemade dishes, discussing the last chapters of Michael Pollans book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and talking about our role in the future of Media.  Silver brought up how Professors often say that the future of the media is in our hands, and that it is up to our generation to solve the worlds problems through it.  He continued to say that he disagreed with them, that the responsibility is not solely ours but that the media we are currently making IS the future and to keep making it.  The videos that Ashton and Chris produce, the writing Teresa and Laura publish, the photos Samantha and Ali take, and the amazing work that every other person has done throughout the semester for our Easting San Francisco class is where the media is headed.  This future allows everyone to publish their work, to receive immediate feedback, to be creatively expressive, to combine the various aspects of their lives, their friends, their work, their hobbies, and their passions through one photograph, one video, or one blog post.  

Although I do agree with Silver and admire his aspirations for us as media makers, I personally want to try to take time to distance myself from it (who knows if that’s even possible).  After 4 years of being required and assigned to create media I have come to mildly resent it .  I don’t want to exist as an individual who has to Tweet every time something interesting happens in my life, I don’t want to feel that I have to write a blog post, or consciously think about taking a impressive photograph.  I want to want to do all those things.  And I know in time I will.

DSCN0688Look how wonderfully it came together. Bye ESF.

Cole Valley

For our last ESF trip we travelled to Cole Valley to go to Zazie.  I have been to Zazie before with the oh so beautiful Samantha Blackburn for brunch but dinner was a whole different experience.  We all sat at one long table to enjoy our last meal together, we chatted and ordered some drinks as we waited to order.  Sam and I decided to split the flank steak in a brandy cream sauce , which is clearly the way a dead cow is meant to be cooked, topped with portobello mushrooms with asparagus and mashed potatoes.  

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We also got a side of the mac and cheese (which was one of the best things I have ever put into my mouth, I think Sam only had 2 bites).  

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Zazie only uses free-range, antibiotic and hormone free meats, and you can really taste the difference in the quality.  It also feels great eating a piece of a dead animal that was honored when it was alive, instead of abused and almost manufactured.  I started really paying attention to what I ate after I read the book Skinny Bitch, I had a strong reaction to it and starting eating vegan.  Reading in detail about how cows, pigs and chickens were treated, and how they were slaughtered disgusted me to the point where I was sobbing uncontrollably and refused to eat any animal products for 2 years.  Now, this was when I was in high school and my mom supported this lifestyle and actually did it with me, so I didn’t have to worry about prices or availability, and it was fairly easy.  When I went to college, trying to eat vegan in the school caf was almost impossible, so I started eating meat again and didn’t think too much of it.  After reading Michael  Pollans book Omnivore’s Dilemma, I expected to have the same reaction and was extremely surprised when I didn’t.  In his book he describes in painful detail the unnatural and inhumane treatment of cows in feedlots; how they are basically forced to eat processed corn to fatten them up to the point where there livers are abscessed , there muscle is marbled with fat, and can barely walk because their legs do not support their weight.  He also gives grueling details about how they are tortured into giving up their lives for our consumption.  While doing research for this blog post I went on Youtube and was re horrified by the mistreatment of cows, pigs and chickens, and will be giving up commercial meat until I can afford to eat free range meat.  I have always been a animal lover and have had pets that give up their love for me, I feel I can at least respect animals by eating ones that haven’t been murdered.  

Needless to say, we ate it all.

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After dinner we ironically went to McDonald’s for dessert, and I am usually all for McDonald’s.  I think that everyone hates on it because it’s fast food and there is a stigma about fast food after the film Fast Food Nation came out in theaters in 2001.  But its the epitome of capitalism, of America.  Every other corporation exploits and manipulates people just like McDonald’s does, so what’s the big deal? Why is it that when I say “I want McDonald’s” peoples reactions are along the same lines of disgust and repulsion? Maybe its because they have seen the horrible videos on Youtube I unfortunately just viewed.

I took this picture of the sprinkler system in the McDonald’s parking lot, they obviously need to repair their irrigation system, I mean we are suffering from a water shortage and drought…come on! 

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Dim Sum Experience

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So for our second to last field trip we traveled down to Chinatown to try some Dim Sum. Now, I have had Dim Sum before but this experience was like none other.  We walked into New Asia and I was instantly overwhelmed.  It was huge, with gold pillars, flat screen TVs, and about 50 tables filled with people talking and eating.  I immediately sat down in the waiting section and observed.  There was a lot going on, people pushing around steel carts full of food that looked completely foreign to me,  12 people seated at a table chop sticks almost flying trying to get a piece of pork bun before someone else did, waiters shouting across the restaurant to get a cart pushers attention.  It was full of life and interesting food.  I went upstairs to the bathroom and noticed that the woman waiting behind me had a live chicken in a paper bag.  The bag was rustling around, so I asked her “Is there a chicken in there?” she smiled and made a hand motion that led me to believe that there was a snake in the bag, I smiled back and then proceeded to use the restroom.  After the hostess shouted our parties name over a loud speaker we sat down.  The ladies with the steel carts starting coming by trying to serve us whatever they had, we selected a couple dishes and turned down a bunch.  (I sat at the less adventurous table, at Michael’s table there were all kinds of animal parts).  We tried some pot stickers, and some of shrimp stuffed noodles. I found out later from my friend Catherine that it is called ha cheung, or shrimp sausage literally (roll maybe?)… whole shrimp wrapped in a thin rice noodle.  Unfortunately I didn’t try it, I wish I could be more adventurous but the texture didn’t thrill me and I have a very sensitive gag reflex.  

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I noticed throughout the meal that a lot of the dishes were made up of the same ingredients.  The clear noodles, shrimp, pork etc.  For example they have shrimp dumplings, shrimp rolls and shrimp buns with broth, all of these dishes are made with the same noodles but vary in taste and design.  This reminded me a lot of Sushi, they make a classic California roll and then add Avocado and it is transformed into Dragon roll.  This is a good way to utilize a few ingredients to make a variety of dishes.  

Later we also ordered some Chinese broccoli which looked really beautiful, it was such a vibrant green, it had sort of a fishy taste because of the oyster sauce but it was nice to get some greenery in our meal.  Then came another dumpling that was different than the others we had previously ordered.  This one looked more complex and like it had more than just a few ingredients.  After talking to Cat about it she told me that it was Shumai, also arguably one of the most famous if not the most famous dim sum (since you can find a similar item in many Japanese restaurants that offer bento; similar but not the same), is a pork & shrimp dumpling (open on top) in essence.  She said that this was hands down here favorite.  

z167229878  (I didn’t get a flick of this dish so I stole one from the New Asia Yelp review)

I am certainly not as adventurous as my classmates who between 5 of them bravely nibbled on one chicken foot .  Sorry just couldn’t do it, I applaud you guys!  The Dim Sum meal was definitely a experience, and the next time I go I will certainly try to be more open about trying new things.  New Asia, I don’t know if I will be visiting you again but Dim Sum you cant count on it!

There’s just something about the Mission

As we drove down mission street trying to find parking close to our meeting spot at Balmey Alley and 24th, I sat in the back seat of the car staring at this random grassy hill off in the distance.  It was such a lush deep shade of green and it seemed to set the mood for what was to come of our class field trip to the mission. It was calming and somewhere I really excited to be at the same time. 

Balmey Alley is the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco.  The murals began in the mid 80’s when artists’ needed to express their indignation for human and political injustices that were going on in Central America.

The murals are beautiful and are made to express something to the person viewing it; whether it is as obvious as simply painting Frida Kahlo alongside her husband or a piece filled with different shapes that create a whirlwind of vibrant colors, the artist is trying to communicate something important to world.  With each stroke of paint that artist is releasing their position, their stance, their opinion for people to absorb, learn from and maybe even act upon.

When we were done documenting every square inch of the alley we walked around the corner to Taqueria Vallarta, an authentic Mexican taqueria.  I ordered a vegetarian burrito filled with avocado, rice, pinto beans, sour cream and salsa all wrapped up in a big flour tortilla.  I know, its not the most authentic Mexican meal but it was so good.  In fact outside of northern Mexico, burritos are not common in traditional Mexican cuisine and only might be seen in some non-traditional venues South of the Boarder.  

As I look back at what I ordered I feel like I should have thought about the experience a little more and ordered some of the authentic Mexican tacos that were in the front of the restaurant tempting people strolling by; two corn tortillas, carne asada, cilantro, red onion and a little salsa.  mmmmm

We then walked a couple blocks to Mission Pie a local bakery and cafe specializing in pies by the slice and taking ingredients from local farms.  Even though the Mission Pie website says that it “encourages urban folks toward intimacy with their food through live relationships with the people and places that grow our ingredients.”  I think we can all agree, that statement went as far as the text on the website, if their banana cream pie wasn’t effing amazing I honestly wouldn’t step foot in the place again.  Oh well. 

My hw assignment for ESF was to use food to tell a story about the mission or to use the mission to tell a story about food.  When Silver (my professor) said this I immediately thought that there isn’t a way to choose one to define the other,   they simply go hand in hand explaining  and evolving each other; just as we did as a class and the many people that live and experience it everyday use it to define themselves within their culture, gender, ethnicity, residence and identity. 

There’s just something about the Mission.

 

 

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North Beach :)

We started our journey at City Lights Bookstore on the corner of Columbus and Broadway, a place that epitomizes the SF Beat Era of North Beach. Founded in 1953 the bookstore is practically the birthplace of Beat prose and poetry and where revolutionary and evolutionary ideas and artistic expression flourished.

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The sun was setting as everyone arrived, some a little tipsy, some a little late, some a little tired but as we began our 5 minute walk through the streets of North Beach to Bocce Cafe the feeling of excitement and anticipation grew. The entrance was slightly hidden, but as we walked through a pathway covered with trees and greenery, up the stairs and through the doors I was struck by the openness and serene atmosphere created by the lighting and the traditional Italian decor.

We all sat at one huge table, settled in and looked at the menu to see how we could fulfill our appetites with a 15 dollar budget per person. Samantha and I agreed on sharing the caprese salad to start and then the penne pasta with roasted garlic and tomatoes. When the food arrived everyone was looking around to see what everyone else ordered, and because we were there not just to casually eat but to think about the food, the presentation, the ingredients and where they came from, the service, the atmosphere, and what we were actually putting in our mouths and consuming, dinner itself was more interesting and enjoyable. Many times when you go out to eat, its because you are hungry and you don’t want to think too much about food or to spend time preparing it. Being at the Bocce Cafe with 17 people all focused on every aspect of the meal was completely different and enhanced the flavor and experience.

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When the waiter asked if we wanted dessert, we all looked at each other and shook our head as if the thought of eating anything else disgusted us. Then the bill arrived and it was the easiest transaction I have ever dealt with considering our party was the size of basketball team (everyone knows that trying to pay the bill with a crowd over 4 is a huge pain in the ass, someone gets stuck paying more, someone doesn’t pay enough and it kind of ruins the whole dinner and night).

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Then after the meal we walked to The Italian French Baking Company where we were given a behind the scenes tour of the bakery. Seeing the process of making and baking the bread was fascinating and knowing the process makes me think more about where my food is coming from and the time and energy that goes into every loaf of bread (toast is probably my favorite thing in the world, so I eat a lot of bread).

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The North Beach Crew set the bar high for the other crews to follow. Congrats, the night was amazing!

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Green Apple Books

 

On a windy Wednesday morning as I stepped outside of my apartment onto 3rd ave to get some coffee at Marthas, I realized that I had yet to do an assignment for my digital journalism class.  On my way down the street I thought of Green Apple Books on clement between 6th and 7th.  I was pretty impressed with myself considering I hadnt had my morning cup of energy. 

When I arrived at the store I went through their 1$ used section for a bit (such a steal!), and then ventured inside.  Now, from the outside this little place does not look like it can hold more than a couple hundred books, but once your inside be prepared to be overwhelmed.  The place is stacked to the brim with good finds.  I must have spent 2 hours meandering around, exploring my curiousity, and getting lost (literally).  I went upstairs to see if I could find a good coffee table book and found this amazing photography book that I fell in love with when I was in NY earlier this year.  I couldnt get it at the time becasue it weighs just about 50 pounds.  The book is by this photographer named Dave LaChappelle , his work features actors, singers, models and icons in strange sceneries.  They are amazingly interesting and beautiful.  So my random trip to Green Apple books was a complete success!

Double Dutch


This past friday as my girls and I searched the city for a new bar/club to spend our night, my best friend cinthia remembered this bar called Double Dutch she went to freshman year in the Mission district. She said of what she remembered it was cool, played good music and had an eclectic group of people. So we gave it a chance.

When we arrived the place was packed, people were break dancing, turf dancing to old school rap, watching the action or just plain having a good time. We sat down in a booth that looked directly at the bar and people watched for a while before we got some drinks. As I looked around the small cozy chaotic place I was pleasantly surprised. I got up to join the commotion on the dance floor and had chance to notice the amount of character the place had. On one wall a framed picture of a New York tagger skateboarding through a construction site, on the wall behind me was a huge graffiti piece,
on the wall near the bar was a case filled with vintage SBs, and my personal favorite the wall behind the DJ was filled with old school boomboxes.

Most bars don’t go through the trouble of trying to create a atmosphere like Double Dutch, they figure a bar, some seats and alcohol is all you need. So if you like hip-hop, relatively cheap drinks, dancing and being surrounded by people who just want to have a good night, check out Double Dutch.