Category: Chris - AM Musings
 
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seaweed
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sky breaks with spokes of light
dancing waves await prancing puppies
fresh seaweed served on fine white sand
wet and gleaming with the smell of the sea  gazing at the infinite horizon  

 
 
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Michael Ondaatje in Conversation with Michael Chabon
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Michael Ondaatje signing books
Michael Ondaatje is probably best known as the author of "The English Patient", a novel that was made into an Oscar winning best movie in 1996.  One of Chris'  favorite author's, I tagged along to hear him speak at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco.  It was interesting to hear about a writer's creative process compared to what I am familiar with as an architect.  Like many things worthwhile, it takes hours of hard work for a few moments of pleasure.

After the interview, a long line of admirers lined up to have Ondaatje autographed his latest book, "The Cat's Table".

 
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Gahm Mi Oak Restaurant - NYC
Sul Lang Tang is a Korean soup of beef bones boiled carefully until the stock turns white. Whenever we visit Los Angeles, we always order Sul Lang Tang as San Francisco doesn't seem to have a Korean Restaurant that serves a good one.

Gahm Mi Oak Restaurant in Manhattan's Koreatown on 37th Street near  Broadway -- and right around the corner from the Empire State Building -- serves a superior Sul Lang Tang.  Chris has  declared it perhaps better than our Los Angeles favorite.  The intense beef flavored soup with slices of beef comes steaming hot.  Season it yourself at the table from large bowls of salt and slices of green onions.  This is a dish that isn't easy to attempt at home.  One the surface it is easy, but getting the right flavor and color seems mysterious to me.  When I went by the kitchen, the stove seemed to be a clay- like structure.  They wouldn't let me take a picture so I guess it is their "secret". 
 
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Roasted Figs
Chris loves them.  Here they are roasted with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinigar drizzled on top.
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Figs at the Bastille Market - Paris
Growing up near Fresno, California where fig trees abound, I never had a fresh fig when I was a kid. We didn't know anyone with a fig tree and they weren't sold at the local supermarket. The only fig I had was in a fig newton. 

 
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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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Chris knits
Although the heat of summer is still baking most of the country, San Francisco is an exception.  In San Francisco, you can wear a sweater almost any day of the year.  Still, winter is coming and like all of nature, we start preparing for cold weather.  Chris bought some yarn at Atelier Yarns on Divisidero Street and has started to knit a scarf of rich harmonizing colors.  See above.  Some lucky person will be looking very dapper this December.
 
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Berthillon Ice Cream - Paris
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At one time supermarket ice cream was the only common source for ice cream.  Now specialty ice cream boutiques abound and San Francisco has many good ones - Mitchells and Bi-Rite being two of my local favorites. Click here for the article.

The best,  sadly (for us) is made by Berthillon in Paris.  Their main store on an island in the center of Paris at 31 rue St. Louis-en-l'Ile near Notre Dame Cathedral, seems to always have a line.  Once on the island, just follow the crowd and you will find it.  This is definitely worth the wait.

If you don't want to stand in line, many cafes also serve Berthillon ice cream.   The photo above was taken at Le Petit Cler on Rue Cler, another great street of markets and cafes.  If you're enticed to go to Paris to try it, check out David Lebovitz's blog, My Paris.  Great guide of places to eat and go. 

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Chris found a place in Berkeley that rivals Berthillon. Horray! It's called ICI and I had the panforte ice cream.  It was one of the best ice creams I've ever tasted.   The June 24, 2011 San Francisco Chronicle had an article on the best ice cream to be found in the Bay Area.  Mitchells came out on top.  Bi-Rite and ICI are also listed.   See the article here.

 
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Incanto Exterior Wall Decoration
We celebrated Chris' birthday at Incanto Restaurant.  Located at 1550 Church Street at Duncan in Noe Valley.  At 6:30 PM parking was easy, but parking may be difficult at later times.  Featured in an Anthony Bourdain TV episode on San Francisco, it has a reputation for it devotion to pork and offal.   I love pork, but I'm a little quesy about innards.  Katie, however, is adventuresome and ordered the lamb heart tartar.  I admit it was good, but I stopped at a taste.  Katie gobbled it up.  

The design of the restaurant has a nice traditional Italian feel about it, but still crisp and contemporary.  The front of the restaurant faces east and at 6:30 PM the summer late afternoon sunlight reflected off the walls of building across the street -- backlighting and making the faces of my dining partners difficult to see.  It's a difficult lighting problem.  You either boost the lighting on the inside to balance the light from the outside -- or you shade the windows from the outside glare.

The salumi platter was available in three sizes and the mid-sized platter was generous and the selection good.  My slow braised pork shoulder lacked the succulent moisture I was expecting.  Best dishes were the ragu handkerchief pasta with duck egg on top - deliciously rich and Bay leaf panna cotta.  They have a great looking website and an interesting read.  Take a look here.
     
 
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Left Eve Lounge Poster - Right 1960's UC Berkeley Poster
Perhaps it's in the air, but I saw this poster on the left on-line for Eve Lounge that is a perfect re-interpretation of the 1960's counter culture rock posters.  We've been talking about 1960's retro design at Pine Street lately and have tried our hand at designing something in that vein.  The poster above on the right is something I found in the garage from my 1960's school days.  
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The letters are formed to take an object's shape and legibility is secondary.  If the poster itself is compelling, then it encourages you to study it deeper to read the message.  At the left is Chris' design for a T shirt.  

 
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Miller's Pastrami Sandwich - San Francisco
















I had my first "real" pastrami sandwich at the famous Carnegie Deli in Manhattan - piled high and impossibly delicious. Katie always ordered the Chicken Soup, Alex always wants a piece of cheesecake, and Chris wants the dill pickles. Too bad it's so far away.

Ted, at Mock/Wallace Architects is the "Pastrami King" and blogs about all things pastrami at this blog-site.  He'll tell you everything you want to know about Pastrami in the Bay Area and beyond.  He says Millers East Coast Deli  has the best Pastrami in San Francisco.  When Alex suggested going there last week, I said "YES!"   How does it compare to Carnegie? -- close. . .