More Pig-Out Photos

We’ve put up a few more photos of food from our regular visits to fine dining establishments in San Francisco. This time, Gary Danko and breakfast at Bloo.

I’ve put up a few more photos of the food we’ve eaten in San Francisco. It was a long time ago that Rochelle and I ate at Gary Danko, so the descriptions are curt. But the photos should make it clear we were eating well while there.

And in our photos from dinner at Bloo we promised a return visit, for breakfast. Well, we’ve gone twice for breakfast, ordering the same things both times. It’s quite delicious, and there’s no waiting, unlike at the popular Kate’s Kitchen just down the block (which is not as good, IMHO).

Brand Name Recognition

Rochelle and I are starting to get famous, via our web site covering the food we eat, and obsessively document.

Rochelle and I like to go out to nice meals, take pictures of the food we eat, and then post them on our web site with commentary. We do it more to amuse our tiny minds than anything else, but apparently some people do visit the site and read our sort-of reviews.

At least that was the news we got from our server at Bloo this morning for brunch. He asked “Aren’t you the people with the web site?” When we admitted it he said that some customers had mentioned it recently when they came in for dinner: “Who are those people? Are they trying to sell me something?”

Even Proctor & Gamble and McDonalds had to start somewhere.

Burke and Wells

Friends of ours, with a great journal of their journey to France.

Some new friends of ours have a great web site chronicling their lives. As a couple they go by their last names, Burke & Wells, and that’s how we think of them. To be honest, I don’t think I could come up with their first names at all!

They’ve done an especially good job on a chronology of their visit to France last year. In particular, their description of their dinner at Guy Savoy sent us into a fit of envy and lust.

Rochelle and I will be heading to Paris in September, to experience it for ourselves.

Looking Back at 2001

God knows we’re glad 2001 is over but, in retrospect, it wasn’t all bad.

Rochelle and I are both glad that 2001 is over with. It’s not as though a calendar can mark the boundaries of luck or experience, but as much as the date shouldn’t matter, you can’t help summing a year up into a theme. And 2001 sucked for lots of people.

But it wasn’t all bad. Rochelle and I were fortunate to be able to spend almost two months together, 24/7, and come out on the other side having more fun with each other than ever. It’s good to be married to a good partner.

Both Rochelle and I experienced job changes we hadn’t intended, mine because my company died, and Rochelle because her boss wasn’t right for her. Now we’re both in jobs we like better than what we started with last year, and which are overall more financially rewarding to boot.

We replaced the nasty carpets in much of our house with wonderful hardwood floors. The floors bring joy to us every day, and may go down as the best investment we made in 2001 (not that the others were hard to beat).

Inspired by the success of the floors, we got serious about lighting, and replaced five existing lights with 4 “new” (to us) period fixtures (this was the source of my Fun With Electricity postings). The one that gives me the greatest pleasure is in the office, which replaced a ceiling light and a 500-watt halogen lamp, lighting the office about 20% better using half as much electricity.

We also started in on our water closet renovation, but have stalled on that, because we decided that getting all of the excess crap out of our parlor and office was more important. Both of these jobs will be with us through most of 2002, I predict.

We threw or attended some really good parties, the best of which was Rochelle’s birthday, and the most impressive was David’s birthday. (One of these days we’ll get the food photos from that up on our site.)

We took some nice trips, including Mexico, Texas, and LA. We ate a whole lot of good food on those trips, most of which we photographed, and most of which we’re behind on publishing. A resolution for 2002, surely.

I bought a new Mac and transitioned entirely to Mac OS X. This is something which gives me pleasure daily, for a whole lot of reasons, one of which is that it enabled me to start this weblog.

I said goodbye to Tex, whom I miss dearly, but who is certainly living a better, happier life in her new household, where she’s the top kitten, with cat companions she likes, neither of which was true in our house.

Rochelle and I both made tremendous progress on our crap reduction and abatement programs, though we clearly have more to accomplish in 2002 (another resolution).

I’m sure we accomplished many other things we’re happy with in 2001, and my feeble mind can’t remember them. That’s why one of my resolutions for this year is to regularly update this weblog. I’m a little behind at this point…

RTFM

Contrary to popular opinion, reading the manual for a complex device like a digital camera is not hazardous to your health.

In the nearly three years since Rochelle and I got our first digital camera (for our wedding present to each other) the technology has gotten amazingly better. Between that and upgrading to a new Mac that doesn’t have a floppy drive (our Sony Mavica uses a floppy to store and transfer photos), we’ve been wanting to get a new one that would work better with how we take and share photos.

So, last week, after a couple weeks of trying to buy one, we finally managed to find a store with a Canon PowerShot S110 in stock, and bought it. We promptly went out to dinner and tested it out on our meal.

And then I couldn’t get the photos off the damn camera.

Theoretically it was supposed to be easy. Just plug it into my USB port, and iPhoto would open up and import them automatically. This is what we bought the new camera for! Except, after trying a whole lot of different ways to connect the camera, it just didn’t work.

Out of complete desperation, I actually resorted to reading the camera’s manual. And discovered that I needed to put the camera in Playback mode to have the computer see it as a camera.

Doh!

Um, follow the link to see our photos from Bloo

NYE2001: The End – 3

So we got home from the after dinner party fairly early, about 2am, because Rochelle has having some digestive problems, probably from all the rich food we’d been eating. And we pretty much went straight to sleep, only to be woken up around 6am by the rest of our traveling circus returning from the same party.

Rochelle — a morning person — got up and joined the group, still highly-energetic and talky. I never really woke up, and slept a few more hours before being ready to face the day.

With so little time left before Dave and Joyce’s party, no one wanted to go to bed, except Damon, who’d not only been partying with the best of them, but had been cooking for 100 while the rest of us were part of the 100, sitting, drinking, and eating.

Then we went to Dave and Joyce’s, and you know the rest.

NYE 2001: The End – 2

A terrific sushi party hosted by a retired sushi chef, a family tradition for New Year’s Day.

Edith and Damon’s neighbors, Dave and Joyce, are a retired Japanese couple who host an annual New Year’s Day party with their friends and relatives. Dave is a former sushi chef, and wonderful Japanese food is the cuisine (we will put the photos up soon, promise).

We managed to make it across the street around 1pm, with the goal of hanging out before we headed to get the airport to fly home. But the real tradition for this party is for Dave to push sake on the guests. “Kampi!” means “to the bottom,” and is the traditional toast. We heard it a lot at this party, so our plans to be mellow were for naught.

Even more fun, the hosts delighted in giving the women larger Japanese tea cups, while the men got the traditional smaller sake cups — all of which were continuously kept filled. So by the end, in spite of eating a large amount of sashimi and other delights, we were both, uh, very happy, but Rochelle was waaaaay more drunk than I was.

Somehow Damon managed to drive us to the airport (did I mention that Damon is superhuman?), where we were on to our next adventure.

NYE2001: Part 3

Damon, one of our hosts in LA, is superhuman. He cooks us brunch.

Damon, one of our hosts in LA, is superhuman.

After partying until 4:30am, having slept only four hours, he and Edith pick us up at the airport at 9:00am in the morning. We are headed to brunch!

Except, unlike a normal person who would simply be unable to do more than find the nearest Sunday buffet, he drives us to his restaurant, Cinnabar, and he cooks us brunch.

Not any old quick bacon-and-eggs thing, either. A poached egg, on top of seared filets, on top of crostini, with a lobster hollendaise sauce. Two of them. Each. Bacon and really fabulous breakfast potatos on the side.

This was one of the two meals where Rochelle and I simply lost our heads and forgot to take pictures. Which is a tragedy, because these were beautiful plates of food.

Rochelle and Damon cleaned their plates. I ate all of mine, and the rest of Edith’s. I’m a pig.

More, Way More Champagne

In which we buy more than four cases of Champagne, because we could.

Rochelle recently read that Grocery Outlet, the very low-cost food market, bought up substantial portions of the inventory of dot.bomb victim Wine.com, and was selling it at a huge discount in their stores. Obsessed with a good deal, and obsessed with wine, it became her mission to strike while the iron was hot.

She bought a dozen different wines, all less than $10, and over the course of two weeks, we tried most of them. And most of them were undistinguished.

Because the first few bottles were disappointing, we didn’t get around to trying the one bottle of Champagne she picked up, until the Friday before Xmas. Rochelle, David, and I all thought it was pretty decent, especially considering we knew it cost less than $10. Then Rochelle looked at the receipt, and realized that it cost way less: $2.99 to be exact.

Can you see where this train is headed?

Yes, the next day we were in our car headed to Berkeley and the nearest Grocery Outlet. After digging through their wine stock, we found tucked into the back corner an entire case of the same Champagne. We bought the whole thing, along with a few other bottles ranging from $1.99 to $4.99.

At a taste test we organized on Xmas day, our $2.99 bottle beat all comers. This wine’s a winner, and that meant another trip to Grocery Outlet, this time, to San Jose.

This store didn’t have any Wine.com wines visible, at first, but then we realized that they had a big stash near the front door, away from the wine section. Alas, our little bottle wasn’t there, but we did find a couple of $10 bottles, which both turned out to be quite good.

Then, in line to check out, Rochelle noticed yet another stack in another section of the store. “Hey, what’s that?” “I’ll go check it out…”

Score! Three unopened cases of our little find. We bought them all.

For those keeping track, yes, that means we have (had) four cases of this Champagne. Fridays are now officially “Champagne Days” in our house. So are Saturdays, and any other days we think it’s a good idea.

Come and visit us, before we drink it all!

Buche de Noel: UPDATE

Our Buche de Noel, while quite good, was not in the traditional style, and we were actually disappointed.

We took our Buche de Noel to my mother’s Xmas day feast, where 12 of my immediate and extended family gathered to celebrate the holidays.

While it was quite good, it was not in the traditional style, and we were actually a bit disappointed. A traditional Buche is a chocolate sponge cake slathered with ganache, and then rolled into a log shape. Our Buche was more of a solid log of chocolate mousse — great for chocolate freaks, but a little sweet if you were anticipating some cake to lighten things up.

Next year we’ll try the Buche from Patisserie Delanghe, which is right around the corner from Boulangerie Bay Bread, and didn’t have the huge line at 8:30am on Xmas Eve.

Delanghe did our wedding cake, and is an outstanding French bakery in their own right. They just don’t do breads, or much besides desserts, actually. But their desserts are outstanding.

Buche de Noel

The wait for our Buche de Noel from Boulangerie Bay Bread was more than 45 minutes, and we got the last one.

A follow-up to yesterday’s post about Boulangerie Bay Bread, that morning we went there to buy a Buche de Noel, a traditional holiday cake shaped like a Yule log.

We got there 10 minutes before they opened at 8am, and the line was already down the block, all the way to the corner. It took 45 minutes for us to work our way to the front, and the line was never shorter than when we first arrived.

A lot of those people were no doubt disappointed, because we got the last Buche. We also got an apple-cranberry tart, a couple croissants, some cookies, two sandwiches, and a big piece of croissant bread pudding (remember, we said we were pigs).

Next year we will be smart, and put in our pre-order a week in advance. We tried on Friday this year, but they had already cut off pre-orders by then.

Champagne!

Champagne is a favorite drink for special occasions. Our favorite special occasion is that there’s a cold bottle of Champagne in our refrigerator.

In my first year with Rochelle I drank more Champagne than I had had in my entire life prior to meeting her. Champagne was for special occasions, but Rochelle enlightened me, and now a special occasion is whenever there’s a cold bottle in the refrigerator.

We go to Champagne tastings as often as we can find them, and there are many during the holidays. This past week we took part in a single-grower tasting, put on by Amphora Wine Merchants at their sister restaurant, Absinthe.

Going into the tasting, we didn’t understand the “single grower” description. What this means is that all the grapes were grown by a single grower, which limits production, and ensures that the wines will remain “little,” at least in terms of market penetration.

The wines were spectacular, and markedly different from the very good, very consistent Champagnes we’re fond of, such as Veuve Clicquot, Bollinger, Taittinger, etc., which are blends made from the grapes of many, many growers.

The experience set us with the firm conviction that our next vacation will be to France, and specifically to the Champagne region, for as much tasting as our livers can handle. We’ve already come up with the official slogan of our trip: “Champagne, It’s What’s For Dinner!”