Hey, good lookin’

Posted by Anita on 11.28.07 1:03 PM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedFirst, a fun bit of good news: My photo of Sweeney’s cocktail was recognized for a host’s award in last month’s edition of Does My Blog Look Good in This. Considering all of the amazing entries that were submitted — more than 100 in all — I was stunned and flattered to be chosen again as a Good Looking Blog. (Seriously, I’m not just being gracious: Go check them out, and be prepared to drool.)

But now I’m faced with a classic dilemma: How can I top my last success? October’s posts featured such a bumper crop of (strangely similar) photos that I can’t decide which I like the best. Or, more to the point, which one might catch the judges’ eye.

Would it be the ghoulish (but oddly gorgeous) chicken still-life from Murder Most Fowl? Perhaps the sinfully creamy, toffee-topped cake as seen alongside Sweet & Spicy? Or maybe the fascinating rhythm of a bowl of Brussels sprouts, a la Dark Days Ahead? Might they prefer the rustic crate of heirloom apples illustrating Seasonal Stealth?

Oh, decisions, decisions…

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

Wanna help? Aces, I knew I could count on you. Here’s how:

First, consider the DMBLGiT rules. It’s not just all about the best photograph, so it pays to know what the judges are looking for. Prizes are awarded for edibility, originality, and aesthetics, plus an overall set of winners.

Next, click through to the Flickr set and check out each image at its full 350-pixel submission size. Then, pop back over here and vote in the poll below.

But we’ve got to hurry: The submission deadline for this month’s DMBLGiT is Friday, 11/30. I’ll leave the poll open until Friday at noon, then send in my entry under the wire. Feel free to leave comments explaining your vote, or even suggest an alternate image from the October archives, if you prefer.

Update: Thanks to everyone who voted!
The final tally was: Chicken 12, Sprouts 5, Apples 2, Cake 1.

other stuff
4 Comments »

 

Points, shoots & leaves

Posted by Anita on 06.11.07 11:43 PM

(c)2007 AEC *all rights reserved*In my youth, I was actually something of a photo geek: I built a darkroom in my parents’ garage, I worked for my Dad all summer between 8th and 9th grade to buy my first SLR, and I won a school-wide award for photography a year later. I was, even then, a tinkerer, a collector of gadgets and gizmos.

By all rights, you’d think an equipment geek like me would have some big, black, long-lensed monstrosity… when instead I actually tote a cute, shiny, pocket-sized snapshot-maker. I’ve looked longingly at the gorgeous shots created by those who own the real deal, all the while coaxing my poor little PowerShot into giving up decent photos.

Cameron — who hails from a photo-obsessed clan — hasn’t helped matters. He’s been egging me on to purchase a dSLR for months, reminding me of the old adage that equipment should always be better than the human behind it. I knew he was right, but I felt like I couldn’t justify the expense: I’d just upgraded my point-and-shoot last November, a purchase that set me back far more than I really wanted to spend. And ultimately, the blog’s just a hobby… it’s not like anyone cares whether the image is a little noisy, or the lens distortion gets a little distracting.

Early last week, my equipment envy reached a peak. A friend who just started blogging mentioned that he’d splashed out for some gear to help improve his online shots. I replied covetously, saying something to the effect of “I wish I could buy a dSLR, but it’s not like I have a spare grand sitting around.”

And then, two very interesting things happened.

I got home, opened the mailbox, and found a check — a completely unexpected payment for something I did on a lark more than a year ago — for $945. Not quite a grand, it’s true, but you could say that the universe had succeeded in grabbing my attention.

The next morning, I noticed a lot of inbound blog traffic from a link called “DMBLGiT: The Winners!” I clicked the tracking URL, and my jaw hit the keyboard. Holy cats: I’d tied for first place in this month’s Does My Blog Look Good in This?, the food-bloggers’ photo contest! I’d never even entered before, and I’m up there on the big screen with DPaul & Sean, and Ilva, and plenty of other talented folks whose blogs I read regularly and whose photos make me swoon. It’s so ridiculous, I still don’t really believe it. But does that stop me from celebrating? No, it most certainly does not. Celebrating is something I understand very, very well.

The rather obvious end of this little tale: I am now the proud owner of a brand-spanking new Canon 30D. At last, a real camera. Interchangeable lenses! A usable viewfinder! And best of all, as Cameron says, “It makes that Girls on Film noise!”

We took the new toy up to Napa this weekend, and both of us captured a surprising number of lovely shots, considering we hadn’t even read the manual yet. (No, I didn’t haul this behemoth out at The French Laundry. Shuh… even I have my limits!) I know it’ll take a while before I dial in the seemingly limitless new features at my disposal — no film camera was ever this confusing …or have I just gotten old? But in the meantime, if you keep an eye on my photostream, you’ll get to see me take my first baby steps back from the point-and-shoot realm.

(c)2007 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2007 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2007 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2007 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2007 AEC *all rights reserved*

equipment, geekery, other blogs, other stuff
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MxMo14: 1 week to go

Posted by Anita on 04.09.07 11:48 AM

RamblinRose(c)2007AECI was cruising through previous editions of Drink of the Week, and found that a suprising number of them have called for some form of bubbly. I guess you know my weakness now! Here’s a recap, in case you’re stuck for ideas:

Rosemary Five: You haven’t forgotten this one already…
Black Velvet: Guinness stout and bubbly
Gilded Pear: Pear Cognac, ginger-infused vodka, bubbly
Poire Royale: Pear Cognac or eau du vie, bubbly, raspberry

And here’s a new one, a riff off the classic Champagne Cocktail. but replacing the bitters with rosewater. At The Front Porch, our local Caribbean-meets-Soul joint, they’ve put together an interesting drinks menu despite their lack of a full liquor permit. Instead of the dreaded sake-tinis and soju-tails you often find at limited-license restaurants, all of their libations are based on ciders or bubbly.

Ramblin’ Rose
from The Front Porch, San Francisco

Sparkling wine
1 sugar cube
Rosewater (available at BevMo and most grocery stores)
A pesticide-free rose

Soak a sugar cube in rosewater, and place in a flute or champagne saucer. Fill the glass with bubbly, and garnish with rose petal.

—-

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drinks, Mixology Monday, other stuff, wine & bubbly
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Spring is sprung

Posted by Anita on 03.21.07 11:25 AM

carrots (c)2007 AECHappy first day of spring!

This morning, I got a lovely email from a reader with whom I’ve been corresponding about the Black and Tan ice cream post: “I really love your blog,” he said, “I just wish you posted more often!”

And frankly, as I told him, I wish I did, too. I often look down the list of Recent Posts and see that lately there’s often just one entry between last week’s Drink of the Week and the next. Yikes…

I still love the blog — don’t think I’ve lost the urge to blather about food — but I’m sure it hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that the posts slowed down dramatically when my dad got sick and I spent a lot of time away from San Francisco.

I was genuinely conflicted about taking our first-ever hiatus when Dad died in early February, but I honestly didn’t have the energy for anything at all but spending time with my family. Writing about anything light and entertaining just seemed so very pointless — callous, almost. And I knew, just knew, that everyone who mattered would understand.

It’s gotten better, and it’s getting better still, but this new part of my life called “Dad’s gone” is taking up more energy and time than I thought possible. Prepared as I was, I’m still caught off guard in ways that I never expected.

It’s not just all about grief. In case you’ve missed my constant gloating, we’ve also been remodeling our kitchen since the first of the year. Much as I had hoped otherwise, there’s just a lot less to write about when you’re cooking in a toaster oven. We’ve been eating out with alarming frequency, but we’ve had a solid string of truly disappointing dining-out experiences lately, and working up the energy to write not-positive restaurant posts is just to difficult to do very often, especially if you’re trying hard not to sound like a whiny, picky jerk. (That said, stay tuned for our New York City wrap-up, where I’ll bravely attempt exactly that.)

But, hey, it’s spring again, and I love hearing that at least one reader is anxious to read more. And I am itching to explore all the seasonal produce, tend to our edible garden as it creeps back to life, cook in our amazing new kitchen (any day now!), and begin to find a comfortable niche for my grief — a place that’s out of harm’s way, but still close by.

It may seem trite, but spring feels more than ever like a natural part of the cycle, a tangible — even edible — follow-through on nature’s promise of rebirth and renewal. Looking at it in that light, as daylight hours get longer and the sun brighter, I can’t imagine that I won’t be writing a lot more, and soon. Thanks for sticking with us through the dark days.

family, other stuff
7 Comments »

 

Farewell, Sunday supper

Posted by Anita on 01.05.07 3:37 PM

chix leg (c)2006 AECRuth, Joe and Jeremy Hoffman
Hoffman Game Birds
Manteca, CA

January 5, 2007

Dear Hoffman clan,

I’m having a hard time putting into words how sad I am to read in the CUESA Newsletter that I will no longer be able to buy your birds on Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Your beautiful chickens have become one of our weekly staples, and we’d even started coming to the market earlier so as to avoid being disappointed by your “sold out” signs.

I hope you’ll consider teaming up with a retail outlet in San Francisco; I don’t know how often we’ll be able get to Berkeley to visit Magnani’s Poultry, but the thought of going without your birds is too much to contemplate.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my love of your poultry, but I also couldn’t let the opportunity pass to let you know how much we appreciated what you’re doing. I hope the attached post, about your chickens, sums it up adequately.

Sincerely, and sadly,
~ Anita

farmers markets, other stuff, shopping
1 Comment »

 

That’s -so- last year

Posted by Anita on 12.31.06 8:38 AM

radishes (c)2006 AECI mentioned my 2006 culinary resolutions in passing last week, and it seems only fair to see how well I managed to pull them off.

I will eat more food that I can trace to its source.

I spent as many Saturday mornings as logistically possible at various farmers markets, and I can honestly say that I could count all of our 2006 trips to Safeway on one hand. We turned to Whole Foods and Tower Market for any needs that couldn’t be managed at the Ferry Building.

The experience was, frankly, eye-opening: We’ve developed relationships with farmers, gotten a much better feel for the rhythm of seasonal crops, and enjoyed observing that — although better food does, often, cost more — we’re more satisfied with a smaller quantity of good things as we used to be with an abundance of mediocre stuff.

I will make time for entertaining friends at home.

We did better this year — especially in the summertime, when it’s so easy to create an amazing spread from all the great produce — but there’s plenty of room for improvement in 2007.

I will find a talented architect to remodel my kitchen.

Check!

I will learn where to find better lunch possibilities near my office, and not just lazily fill my belly with convenient crap.

I definitely put my heart into this one, although I can’t say I was particularly successful. The best thing that happened to my lunch hour in ’06? Hands down, it’s the new “Foodie Court” and Bristol Farms grocery at Westfield SF Centre. (I didn’t say it’s good for my budget, however.)

I will teach the basics to my friends who want to learn to make Thai food.

Well… nobody asked. :D I think we got a little Thai’d out after three straight weeks of three five Thai meals a day on Kasma’s trip — we probably cooked less Thai this year than any in recent memory. But, once the new kitchen’s finished (and we have — hallelujah! — an exhaust fan) I hope that will change.

I will read cookbooks from the library before I buy them.

Boy, did this one take off in a big way. I’ve had a steady rotation of three (or more) cookbooks checked out all year. My local library makes it so easy! I just find the ISBN on Amazon, paste it into the library’s search engine, click “Request”, and wait. A few days or weeks later, I get an email telling me my book’s on the hold shelf at my local branch.

I’m having so much fun exploring new cookbooks that I’m working on a Bookshelf page so you can peek at what’s on my kitchen counter each week. (Please be gentle… I’m still beating my head against the monitor — Amazon and WordPress don’t like each other much, so I’m pretty much coding things by hand in my non-existent free time.)

This is the year I will try to cook at least one new recipe a week.

The library-book project pretty much made this a given, although there were definitely good weeks and bad weeks here. Lots of great new recipes made it into our regular repertoire, namely Pear and Arugula Salad, Bleu Cheese Cauliflower Soup, Peach Bruschetta, and Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

I will taste anything that’s put in front of me, no matter how ‘weird’.

See also: Thailand. And also last week‘s Drink of the Week.

I will use my new smoker (you know, the one I hope to get for my birthday) often enough to justify its purchase.

I guess we found other ways to spend that particular chunk of money. :D

I will give my time to the food bank, and not just when my company gives me time off to do it.

I did volunteer (with the office crew) this summer, but never made it over on my own, except when bearing bags of donations. I resolve to do better in 2007.

I will fill my new garden with as many edible plants as possible.

Another rousing success, thanks in large part to the persistence of my wonderful husband. He sourced some gorgeous edible specimens, pouring over Internet resources and picking the brains of some talented local experts. I’m tickled that we have a garden that’s as tasty as it is beautiful. Stand by for a citrus update in the next week or so…

We will finally take our long-awaited culinary tour of Thailand.

What a wonderful way this was to start our year. One of my resolutions for 2007 is to finally pare down my 1,500 photos into something manageable, and post them to share. If all goes well, perhaps I can dig up our notes and write a few ‘backdated travelogue’ posts next month…

How about you? Any food-related resolutions for 2007?

I’m truly curious… this isn’t just a lazy way to end the post. :)

holidays & occasions, locavore, other stuff
8 Comments »

 

Friday news nibbles

Posted by Anita on 10.20.06 10:57 PM

punkin doughnuts!Krispy Kreme‘s got a pumpkin spice cake doughnut on offer for the holidays, plus — so cute it’s almost scary — pumpkin-shaped raised glazed with ‘ittle Jack-o-Lantern faces (pictured at right) through the end of the month. Awww!

Hot on the heels of their “$6,000 combo meal” TV spot, the fast-food hucksters at KCE/Hardee’s (that’s Carl’s Jr. to us West Coasters) released a list of suggested wine pairings for their speciality sandwiches. Perhaps monsieur would care for a bottle of Peachy Canyon Incredible Red with his Jalapeño Thickburger?

Or perhaps a bottle of bubbly? Perrier’s launching a new campaign aimed at the younger set, going for that edgy thing in an attempt to ditch its Miami Vice-era aura.

I’m still reeling from their purchase of Sharffen Berger, so please forgive me if I don’t seem happy about Hershey’s buying up Oregon’s Dagoba Organic Chocolate.

News of the wierd: Until last week, the world’s largest curry house was located in West Yorkshire, of all places. Hard to imagine that it’s gone out of business, innit?

Another shocker: The Amish don’t want your flippin’ food stamps!

breakfast, drinks, levity, news, other stuff, shopping, wine & bubbly
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Odd couple

Posted by Cameron on 08.23.06 6:11 PM

Chicken and wafflesA few years ago I walked by a restaurant that caught my eye. The name promised a fusion theme and while I don’t remember the two cusines being fused, I do remember that the combination was unlikely enough (Japanese-Greek? Mexican-Scandinavian?) to make me stop and check out the menu in the window.

For sheer entertainment value, it was a great way to blow five minutes. The proposed fare sounded like the restaurant owner had asked a sixth-grader to combine the signature ingredients from two violently different culinary traditions. Lutefisk Gazpacho, that sort of thing.

One might make the same argument about chicken and waffles. I certainly did the first time that I was introduced to them. Individually, they’re great, but together? They turned out to be delicious. It was one of the rare moments where two completely different things mesh together perfectly.

other stuff
4 Comments »