Blog Archives - AM Musings
 
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Dore Alley Sculpture
Saw this around the corner from our office on Dore Alley.  I posted a blog on the Mock/Wallace website discussing how we designed a studio for another large metal sculpture artist near Penngrove, CA.  Check it out.
 
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Smitten Ice Cream - instantly Frozen to Order
Like Merlin casting a magic spell, cream and natural flavors are put into a whipping container and chilled with liquid nitrogen.  In a couple of minutes your order is ready!  What a great way to differentiate your business.  The ice cream is good.


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Central Freeway - now demolished
Smitten Ice Cream is located at Octavia and Linden in Hayes Valley, San Francisco. This site was the location of an elevated freeway that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.  Removal of this huge barrier has transformed this neighborhood.  These vacant lots are posed for long term development.  In the interim several "temporary" structures have been placed there to house businesses.  

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Smitten Ice Cream
Smitten Ice Cream is one of the  interim businesses located here.   I have walked by several times before bringing Chris to try it out.  I didn't realize the ice cream was prepared to order until Chris ordered one.  

 
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San Jose Civic Center
After blogging about the back of the Pantheon in Rome and the Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco, I thought it would be interesting to examine the back of other buildings.  These portions of the building  are not the "front" face and therefore are probably not as self-concious.

The San Jose Civic Center Building by Richard Meier features an iconic dome in the front plaza and the tower serves as a backdrop to the plaza.  Backdrop or not, when it's done by a great architect, the back of the building is usually better than most other "front" facades.
 
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SFMOMA
SFMOMA is planning a major expansion to the 15 year old building designed by Italian architect Mario Botta.  The main lobby of the building features an oculus skylight with an open stairwell ascending the oculus.  The idea of a round skylight was a major theme of Botta's work during the 1990's and several of his buildings featured a variation of this idea.  
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Church of San Giovanni Battista in Switerland
Botta's Church of San Giovanni Battista in Switerland shown in this drawing to t he left shows a how the same idea was applied to a church.

 
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D&A Cafe Steamed Eggs
I've written about Chris' work on perfecting steamed eggs - Chinese style with just a dash of soy sauce on top and in this photo a sprinkle of green onions for color.   D&A Cafe on Clement near 5th Avenue in the Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco is know for its inexpensive Chinese food with generous portions.  While some of their dishes are better for quantity rather than quality, their steamed eggs are as good as any.  

The surface is smooth to allow the soy sauce to glaze the top evenly and the texture of the steamed eggs itself is like the best custard without air bubbles and barely set.  I'm happy to say that Chris' last effort matched this, but I didn't take a picture.  You'll just have to take my word.  You can see her previous effort here.  
 
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Magnolia Petal
Hard to avoid thoughts of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.    Life is a gift.  How shall I spend this precious day?    
 
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Hindu Deity Ganga
Carving of Ganga:  This small carving (about 15" high) is the subject of my first practice presentation I am giving as part of my Asian Art Museum docent training.  The sculpture is of Ganga the Hindu Deity of the Ganges River.  People growing up familiar with the Hindu tradition would recognize the lotus flower in her left hand and a water vessel in her right hand and symbols representing Ganga.  She is standing on a mythical water creature called a makara.  Hindus believe that all who came into the path of Ganga would be purified.

The deity Ganga and the Ganges River are one and the same.  According to Hindu mythology, Ganga came down from the heavens to form the Ganges River originating in the Himalayas, flowing 1500 miles through North India into the Ganges River Basin in Bangladesh and into the Bay of Bengal. The identification with water is significant for Ganga.  For centuries and to this day people flock to bathe in the Ganges River to be purified of sins.

My presentation went well. 
 
 
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Leaf on the ground at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.  Gorgeous color! 
 
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San Wang Pea Sprouts with Garlic Slivers and Mushrooms
I don't usually expect much in the way of leafy green vegetables from San Wang Restaurant in San Francisco.  I usually order their spicy egg plant or dry-fried green beans - both highly seasoned dishes. This restaurant is owned by Chinese owners who have lived in Korea and the wait staff speaks fluent Korean.  Their approach to vegetables seems very different form Cantonese restaurants.  

I was surprised to find their chowed pea sprouts cooked to perfection, the bright green of the vegetables still vivid and appealing.  Seasoned simply, it was a great accompaniment to the braised fish and hand pulled noodles.
 
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The flash of the fire and the creation of Wok Hay
Some of my earliest childhood memories come from the House of Chung restaurant in Reedley, CA where I watched the chefs shaking the heavy woks and tossing the ingredients, cooking them quickly.  The oils in the wok would sometimes vaporize and with the tossing, the oils would ignite in a dazzling display.  Wok cooking is hard work.  Any chef that has spent years behind a Chinese stove probably has burn scars on their arms to show for it.

That said, I grew up listening to elders wax longingly about the nature of wok hay an how this nuance to the dish is only possible with intense heat cooking in a wok and with an experienced cook who knows how to time the addition of ingredients and the length of cooking.  There is little margin for error and when done right, it is incredible.  The most humble of ingredients can be wonderful.

San Francisco native, Grace Young has written extensively on this subject and published several cookbooks.