Tuesday, September 25, 2007


In San Francisco last weekend meeting friends, we stopped in at the South Market wine bar and restaurant Bacar for a quick meal. I have been there once, and remember it being a nice meal with an excellent wine list, but I do not remember being of this caliber. This meal was the best meal I have had in a long time. Interesting choices, well prepared and cooked meats, top class service and consideration...I was really floored by the experience.


We started with a beautiful bottle of 2004 pinot noir from hope & grace vineyards, it was great. Full bodied for a pinot, deep and delicious but not overpowering in the company of chicken and fish. Love the balloon glasses, I could drink diet coke or coffee out of these daily.

Because you never see this rustic and earthy item on a menu in California (I never have, as a dish unto itself anyway) I HAD to order the bone marrow. It was delectable, silky and luscious...a treat after all the walking of the past two days. I spread it on the wheat bread crostini it came with and it was perfect with sprgs of parsley to add a touch of grassy green flavor.

My constant dining and sleeping companion ordered the "warm mushroom salad", which was a misnomer. It was really a frisee au lardons, with warm wild mushrooms and butter lettuce added to the frisee. It looked gorgeous, and he swears it was yumminess. Two pics, one for the presentation and one for the good bits at the bottom!

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For mains, I ordered the oven-roasted chicken and he ordered the salmon. Both were exceptional. The chicken was perfectly cooked, juicy with crisp skin served over a genius bed of chicken livers, warm green grapes, slivered green beans and candied walnuts with a reduced chicken jus...and along the side of the plate was a pureed sauce of walnuts and bread, soft an subtle flavor, warm homey texture. I would fly back to SF just for this dish. Why do I love chicken so? It tastes....just like chicken.

The salmon seemed well paired if not well cooked. Not well cooked for a barbarian, anyway. My companion cannot eat any meat that is not cooked within an inch of charcoal So he sent back the lovely slightly pink salmon so they could scorch it to his liking. It came back served over lovely little fingerling potatoes and honeydew melon. I love the idea of pairing the salmon with the honeydew..sweetness and light with that unique flavor and fatty texture of salmon. Nice. I didn't taste it because I don't always want to share food. Usually because I order what I want to eat. I see no reason to share. Unless yours looks better than mine.

Last but not least was the cheese course (for me) and the chocolate "looks like a gooey pile of sugary junk from Ralph's" dessert for him. I never understand this type of dessert. If I want chocolate, I want something simple like a chocolate mousse or chocolat pot de creme. Whatevs! My cheese was great, some kind of tomato rubbed pecorino.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Weird and Wonderful Things About Tokyo

My first visit to Japan was indeed a trip. I am comfortable and happy almost anywhere I go, I behave myself as an "ugly American", attempt to speak the native language, and obey both local and universal customs. However, none of my world travels prepared me well for Tokyo. Tokyo is so many things, in so many parts of the city, that once you get used to the customs and flavor of one neighborhood you are quickly adjusting to the next. It is genteel, mild mannered and steeped in tradition, wildly exotic and kinky, luxurious and frugal.

Some cool things about Tokyo:

Diet Coke out of a vending machine with a screw top lid. Isn't it pretty? Small things amuse the small minded. What can I say? Light Taste & Refreshing.

This truck advertising a new song by the band, "Arashi" haunted our tracks for days. The sound of the new single "Happiness" blasted into the air in neighborhoods as far and wide as Shinjuku, Omotesando and as far east as Ropponggi.

Bathrooms are an experience unto themselves. In a ritzy department store in Ginza, when a customer sits on the seat the music of a running stream and chirping birds plays to drown out the sound of any untoward flatulence. In nearly any westernized locale, the toilets are equipped with seat warmers and a bidet with three choices of stream direction and intensity. And in a final thoughtful gesture, I noticed several toilets accesorized with emergency systems. If your flatulence, nausea or bird flu gets the best of you, pull on the red emergency chord and help will come running.

Lastly for today, boobie pillows.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Saturday Night Lights, Wahiawa, Hawaii

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High school football. The fanfare, the pageantry, the excitement, suspense and adolescent intention is a weekly autumnal event that is commonly staged across the green athletic fields of Iowa, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Americana plays itself out in common ways in the stands and at the sidelines in New Mexico, Florida and Maine. Quarterbacks, cheerleaders, the waterboy, the pig skin, and the omniprescent stage parent screaming out directives to the coach from the first row of the bleachers.

Watching these archetypes skew themselves in Wahiawa, Hawaii has made my week, maybe even my trip. Natives take for granted that their version of this play is not unique, giving themselves credit for their mimicry but failing to note the stark juxtapositions between the paradigm of American high school football mainland style and the simulacrum of high school football Hawaii style.

Wahiawa, Hawaii is a small rural town of 16,000 people, about halfway between the south shore tourist mecca of Waikiki and the north shore town of Kahuku, a famous surfing destination reknowned for big waves and anti-hale sentiment. The view from the stands is stunningly beautiful, to start with. From where I sit, I see rain forest trees, mountains built from the lava rock of a hot spot volcano, and the threat of mercurial tropical skies overhead. The kids are a dazzling mix of ethnicities. Hawaaian, Japanese, Samoan, African American, Phillippino, and even the occasional Caucasian face thrown in to the mix. But the majority of the students stem from a medley of genetic combinations of all the above and more. The culture of the game and the island is in perfectly aligned to the harmonious mosaic on the field. A true diversity of people, ideas and habits that astounds the senses of someone who was raised in suburban middle class unexotic Northern California.

Food? What would 2 hours of football be without snacks? Hot dogs? Cotton candy? Popcorn? Um, no. There are no hot dogs at the football game. They serve egg rolls, lumpia and fried rice at the food stand. My dad treated us to a snack from his favorite deli in town. Again, a mixing of Hawaiian & Japanese in the form of poki sushi. Anywhere else I might just call it spicy tuna sushi, but this is poki. The nicely textured chunks of square cut ahi tuna, mixed with a generous portion of tobiko and whatever else makes it hot and savory. It comes in two forms of spiciness, "mild" and "creeps up on you and make you breathe fire".

"Creeps up on you" is at the top, and "mild is on the bottom. We ate every morsel and it was delicious. Our team lost, but have you ever seen a cuter receiver?

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