Wednesday, April 30, 2008

primal elements

For fun and party mood, we headed for Medjool in San Francisco. Always wanted to check their roof top bar scene, and was not disappointed by the view, the ambiance and the crowds. Except that
_you cannot reserve a table there
-there is a huge line of people waiting for tables
- the crowd is young,overwhelmingly white,and seemingly conservative

So we retreated to the cavernous dining room downstairs and some of us had some fun with the food( see Dot with calamari ala greek). Cocktails were inventive (Moroccan refresher with mint and cucumber infusions) and the dishes were good (fries), but I felt like the food was produced on a big scale, with little attention to the details that make a dish really good.
While the city is good and busy and fun, a little bit of waves lapping by your bed, the wind rustling through the big branches of the pines next to the fireplace crackling with pleasure, is not bad either.
So for a little birthday retreat, we headed off to Inverness for a couple of blissful days.
Outside of the French doors, a small private beach in the early morning before the fog lifted calmed our nerves,a Little splashing of ocean water energized us, and the walks on the beaches uplifted our spirits. For sustenance: a lovely meal at Olema Inn ( with an amuse bouche and a view of the dining room for you),and some take out from local eateries eaten by the fire,looking out to nature.
some snaps to give you a sense of it....

Friday, April 25, 2008


Spring is magic, April is my favorite month, birthday oblige, and i get my inspiration from it.
I will be hanging some work at a new snazzy frozen yogurt place downtown Berkekley and I hope you will stop by .

It is called Yogurt harmony, and what a fitting name. I love yogurt,lived by it growing up, always plain with a dash of honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then,we lived through the decade of home made yogurt. that was never quite right , but now we have a local selection of delicious ones. The 0% yogurt ( Strauss or greek) blended with mayonnaise makes a great low fat alternative dip for an entree of blanched asparagus or artichoke. I also add garlic and cayenne and whatever strikes my fancy: lemon juice, fresh herbs..) .
As far as harmony, it has been my philosophy . Harmony of taste, mood, feelings, and colors.....

Monday, April 21, 2008


There is a strange thing going on with my little fig tree. It starts to grow a few figs from the get go alongside fresh unfurling leaves, as a teaser of wonderful things to come.After the few have ripened , we will have to wait months for the rest of them to grow to their full belly shape.Why ?
The peaches are so fuzzy, I give them a little loving caress when I go by, it is sensual to feel the silky fur.
Speaking of fur, here is another baffling episode: Saturday morning, I am already out,when significant gets ready to put his sneakers on to go exercise.He picks up a shoe from the floor of his closet, and feels the shoe heavy and starts touching something furry....What would you have done, beside screaming a little and jumping back ( what I would have done),but a baby opossum was there, all curled up and deeply asleep! Now, how did it get there ? If I am right, the house is closed up at night when the opossums roam the neighborhood,we have a crawl space under the house but without a hole to crawl into the house.....then, significant reminded me of the time I found a baby opossum in my bathtub a couple of years back, well, I had put that memory out of my head, it was too scary then ( how did that one get there too ??). Significant put the baby in the bushes and hoped for mother opossum to find it soon after.
After some nature mysteries, on to some human ones : we went on Sunday to the Marsh theater in the mission district to see a performance by Dan Hoyle, a young very talented actor who did a piece on Nigerian oil politics based on his year there as a Fulbright scholar. His one man show is a blend of Nigerian people's words and his own writing. The language is challenging but it definitively brings a sense of authenticity to the local characters he inhabits.The country government seems corrupt to the core,bringing a lot of despair to its people. corruption is a mystery .Why does it Bloom so freely in some country while others wouldn't allow it.....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Spruce restaurant in San Francisco is a fairly swanky place. It has the kind of huge( that spell fancy) door that require your full attention to open.Once inside, the restaurant is plush, modern with warm touches like chocolate brown banquettes and peccary leather chairs.The art on the walls is bold and interesting: big pencil drawings of the back of a man's head for instance.It was to be an early birthday dinner for moi, followed by a talk with Jhumpa Lahiri, one of my adored writers. The meal was sublime, sophisticated and restrained. The service was gracious, and numerous servers came and went.carrot soup with cardamon foam and sliced almonds, celeriac raviolis with truffles,followed by a trio of deserts, one being the "call it beignets when it is really doughnut holes" which were puffy clouds of golden dough sugar coated to a heavenly crush when glazed with a little creme anglaise.The chocolate dacquoise was as sinful and very pretty to look at. Then, off to Jhumpa, looking poised and lovely, a graceful vision that matched her exquisite and deceitfully simple style. She talked of identity, moments of life that she called crossings, and how she inhabits her characters like an actor would on stage, but for her it is on the page.
I got a couple of wonderful presents, one being given with the purpose of may be inspiring me... so here is my inspiration, a new painting, a crossing of the seasons,in more way than one.(click on it to see it bigger and tell me what you think)

Monday, April 14, 2008


I just finished a book,written at the beginning of the 20Th century by a woman who happens to be a great-great -great aunt (sister to my paternal great grandmother). She was quite famous during her time and very prolific. Her novels were sentimental, odes to the power of love, with a dash of of turmoil and offense towards the plight of women then. She talks of feminism, already in 1905,and rebels against the double standard of morality and the inequality in work, justice, marriage. Her character is a 30 year old woman, who married young and whose husband fell ill and became dependant and mean spirited. She took care of him, full filling her duty to the world.But, young and passionate, she fell in love with another man, had an affair and bore an illegitimate child that her husband thought was his.She hid the truth. She was a somewhat liberated woman for her day, working as a journalist in a newly formed woman's magazine and her view of life was seen through the prism of her free friends .In the end love prevailed, after a new lover requested of her total sincerity, and a devotion to love.
Her last line in the book goes like that: "He wanted to talk, put all his faith, all his tenderness, all his fervor in one word and he could only whisper: my dear wife... Victory belonged to love which had never weakened,never love, strong like life."
It is in my blood.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Love what you do

It is sweet and lucky to love what you do.It was a week of contrast. First, using my years of practice, I got to make great grilled steaks , salads with a crunchy twist ,perfect burgers with various toppings, and crazy s'mores.... I felt in control, knowing what to do each step of the way and to produce exactly what is expected. Then, it was off to the realm of food and art and to come up with visual ideas,recipes to experiment with : doing what I do best, beside burgers ! Here are a few snaps of some of the things I came up with: a fresh pea jelly ( that was paired with grilled lamb with salsa verde), a tapas of potatoes and mussels with golden caviar and deep fried green garlic and an exotic fruit soup, done 2 ways...... and what about these sour apricots, the color !!!!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

oakland weekend

First Friday of the month is the " artwalk" event in the new art ghetto of Oakland. I dragged significant, a blistery cold evening down to 23rd street and Telegraph avenue. The corner was crowded, the street was closed and a sound system was beating the rythm, while some young rappers performed. A graffiti artist was painting a mural, as I walk against the Northern wind, trying to see the fun silkscreen patches on funky fabrics, the self published manifestos, and the melted records turned into scalloped bowls. 5 galleries were open and showing some very accomplished art, as well as some little piles of hardened soil in odd shapes, which I liked anyway.The crowds were fun, a mix bag of locals, punky youths, artists getting calls on where the wharehouse party was, middle age prowlers with a sense of adventure. It felt like the east village, gritty,but with some money coming in,dynamic with new art displayed whimsically. We'll be back....
Then, off to Cesar for dinner.
we needed to warm up.
roasted mushrooms soup,the cod cazuela ( always) and the smoky,full flavored paella, did the trick( and what about the elderflower martini ? yes that too). The kitchen again used its repertoire of spices, condiments,oils and garlic with utter abandon and with the results of what a pair of strong brown calves could do, climbing on a rocky shore :confident, muscled and happy to be alive.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Do you remember my crazy rantings last year about my perfect delicious peach, the only fruit that my rescued tree produced ( but it was divine ). Well, it looks like the local bees have done their job again ( and what a job : they probably enjoy the powdery lickings as they fall head first into the fragrant blossoms), and out of the drying flower, a little pinhead of fruit is emerging.The tree is full of them.we will see how things fare this year,as I am hoping for a more prolific harvest. But again, who knows: one perfect peach was a pretty marvelous experience.