Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Market Issue


Those three words got me to buy a copy of Saveur, which I have never read before. That and this photo.

Garlic and tomatoes and olive oil. Foodie heaven. Here's the recipe although that's not what this post is about.

Food Markets. Amazing. I go nuts in them. The biggies like La Boqueria in Barcelona. And the small ones like the one whose name I do not know in Cannes. My local Farmer's Market. The huge one in Pellissane with the 5-foot-in-diameter paella pan. The one in Chiang Mai with the fried insects. The Flower Market in Hong Kong. It counts. Some flowers are edible.

I'm not sure what it is about Food Markets. After all, I'm not an especially adventurous eater. Saveur contained an entire article on the merchandising at these markets -- how fruit is stacked in pyramids because it's most appealing.

As much as I consider myself a market connoisseur, I had only been to one of the 30 markets on Saveur's map of significant markets. And I only went to that one once -- it's the Dane County Farmer's Market in Madison, Wisconsin, where I spent four years at college! I guess I wasn't a foodie back then. Hilary, my college friend, did go a lot, which I find surprising since she has lived in NYC since graduating.

Some of our best travel finds are from the markets: Provencial fabric which is now a quilt for Thing 2, bars of olive oil soap, spit-roasted Bresse-Gauloise chickens and vegetables, stinky cheeses whose names I immediately forgot, teeny tiny strawberries, utilitarian baking dishes, spices.

Next summer's vacation rental was selected in part by Saveur's mention that the most beautiful food market in Italy is nearby. I look forward to seeing the mosaic-arranged fruit and letting Neeracha sample the cavallo, the local delicacy of horsemeat. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We're bracing for the future.

I've just come home from the orthodontist. My head is throbbing and I didn't have any work done!

Two years ago Eldest Daughter went to the orthodontist. She was not ready for braces and so we returned to the very nice orthodontist every six months until her mouth was ready. If all goes according to plan then she will only have braces once. Thank you Dr. Bigman.

Today I took the twins. I was completely unprepared for the outcome. They need braces and they need them right now. And lucky us -- their treatment is likely to include two rounds of braces plus retainers and neck gear. Fortunately they were thrilled: retainers come in so many colors and patterns, including glow in the dark, and you can even choose the fabric on your neck gear. Yeah!

We'll see if they are still so happy when the first bits of metal go into their mouths next week.

Please accept my apologies for the brief blog post -- I must refine my day trading skills now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Orson

I spent Friday afternoon in the city, first having lunch at Orson, then meeting up with a visiting high school friend and his family, which is worth a blog of its own.

I'd read a review of Orson on Bay Area Bites earlier in the week and, since it was near my client site, convinced my colleagues to go there for lunch.

The location is a bit challenging -- it's on Fourth Street between Brannan and Bryant Streets. That sounds fine until you try to walk there -- it's requires crossing through a major road construction zone. However, we were determined.

Although Orson is open for lunch and has an Elizabeth Falkner pedigree, it's not a lunch spot: the location is too obscure. We were the only people lunching on Friday, a day that people generally do lunch.

My pizza with goat cheese and bacon was good but forgettable. Colleague 1's corn chowder was too creamy for her taste and lacked enough corn. Colleague 2's fried chicken sandwich was better, is called out in the Bay Area Bits Blog, and is pictured above. Colleague 3's pastrami sandwich strayed a little too far from the standard for his taste. It looked like the pastrami was fried before being being layered between bread slices that were again fried.

At least my house-made lemonade was good! And the desserts were fine, fortunately, as Falkner has long been known as a local Go To Gal for pastries. My recommendation: skip Orson and go to Citizen Cake instead.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cake Truffles

Our friend Renie brought these to dinner Sunday night. Amazing. And I just love supporting local businesses, especially women-owned ones. Her web site is here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Old Friends

This weekend was filled with seeing lots of oldies but goodies. What makes an old friend anyway? Years of friendship? Depth of friendship?

We spent Friday evening celebrating Jeff's birthday at Michela and Tom's in St. Helena. Jeff and have been friends since I was 16. They were in from Chicago for Mara to do the Vineman Half Ironman. You go girl! It was a perfect evening poolside. The kids swam, the adults laughed and we all ate Tra Vigne pizza. Who knew that Tra Vigne did pizza to go?

Saturday Tory and her kids were in town from Hong Kong. Tory is a Febmom. So while she's a newer old friend (12 years) we've gone very deep with a wide range of subjects across the miles. This picture is of the four Febmoms and five Febkids who got together at Jen's to swim and BBQ. And on my way to the Farmer's Market to buy food for the BBQ I ran into Bryan, who I have been friends with since I was 8.

And that brings us to today: Sunday. Today we had Dave's high school friends and their families for dinner. (Is it becoming obvious why I weigh 300 lbs.?!) This included Bill, who recently returned from a Mt. Everest summit attempt. You can read more about that here.

It's a good thing I slept 10 hours last night!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Last Airbender

Thing 2 wanted to see this movie. I really did not want to see this movie. However, I promised I'd take her if she was an angel while seeing Eclipse with me and Thing 1. And she was.

We went late yesterday afternoon. She loved it and I sat next to her, reading a book by flashlight.

What does this say about my parenting?!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Dennis!

We're just back from Dennis' three-day birthday party / golf tournament in Tahoe. His wife, Margo, who we have known since Dave's first job out of college, outdid herself this weekend.

We have enjoyed so many of her social events -- the Christmas parties with the 11-foot-tree on a lazy Susan, the housewarming party for the house with the living room tall enough to have those trees, dinners she has thrown to treat her sales engineering counterparts, the birthday party she threw for Dave when I could barely function after having our twins, Seth and Lori's anniversary party, the brunch she threw before the quota club trip to Cabo, and on and on.

Margo and Dennis live in Monterey and are serious golfers. Their friends are well-traveled, mostly retired, well-dressed and well-coiffed. Although Dennis and Margo do not have children together, they were kind enough to invite ours to this fete, which I had wrongly assumed included other minis. Nope. Fortunately our kids were on their very best behavior and the affection flows strongly both ways.

Aside from Dennis' boss and assorted relatives, we'd known them the longest, which made me feel better since the average age of the guests was closer to 60 than to 50! Dennis and his father, Dennis Sr., used to run a waste equipment manufacturing company and were some of my most fun clients.

Friday night was a BBQ at the Dollar Point Beach and we feasted on the most amazing tri tip. It was Santa Maria-style if I had a guess. Saturday night was a more formal dinner at the Tahoe Maritime Museum in Homewood. Dennis loves Woodies, the wooden boats popularized early in the 20th century, and this venue showcased them.

Things I learned about Dennis during the roast:
  1. He has had more car accidents than he has fingers. Dennis Sr. told us about the ones he could remember. There must have been more.
  2. He learned to play golf to woo Margo.
  3. He pretends he is Led Zeppelin on an air guitar.
Many happy returns, Dennis! We look forward to celebrating the next 50 with you. Please do not attempt to drink the entire 1.5 liter bottle of Macallan at one sitting.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Signs of Summer

It's July 8. We're full into Summer Mode. Here are some of the highlights thus far:

Lemonade Stand
Thing 1 and her friend had a lemonade stand. I've long resisted my children selling things but I finally gave in. After all, it's not like selling gift wrap in the neighborhood, which you feel obligated to buy. People who are thirsty and who want lemonade will buy it. The friend made this gorgeous sign and the friend's mom and I stayed a good distance from the kids while they were doing their thing.

Lake Tahoe
We spent the better part of a day out on the lake with Ice Cream SIL, our nieces, and Steve, her dad, who my brother is lucky to have as a FIL. My SIL and the kids swam and then we had a leisurely lunch at Sunnyside. (Tip: Order the Kimo's Original Hula Pie for your appetizer.)

Our friend Dennis, aka The Big Sexy, is celebrating his milestone birthday (Hint: It rhymes with nifty.) with a three-day golf tournament up here this weekend. Guess where Dave will be?! Margo, his wife, throws no-holds-barred parties and this event will be no exception. It will also force her to forget the Wednesdays she has been spending in what Dennis calls "The Party Room" with a chemo drip. Love you M!

Dave and Eldest Daughter detoured to Las Vegas before meeting us up here. Dave met with his business partner and Eldest Daughter explored the strip and the Mandalay Bay pool with the business partner's daughter, who is older than our daughter but has significantly less freedom. No one is talking much about what they did so I think they had fun. We picked them up at the airport in Reno. As far as I can tell, Reno is one big strip mall (pun intended).

Fortunately the Littlest Pinks really wanted to see Eclipse so we did that while in Reno, which we never have to go back to. Eclipse was entertaining; the reviews have it right -- the production is the most polished. It is an action movie, after all. It also deviated from the book in some surprising ways.

Independence Day
Our suburb does a traditional hometown Fourth of July celebration. About 40,000 people from near and far flood downtown to see the parade. We had great seats this year -- in the shade and close enough for the kids to talk to the people on the floats. No Dykes on Bikes but lots of Kids on Bikes and veterans to cheer for.

Alameda County Fair
One of my favorite parts of the summer is the County Fair. I especially love the livestock Exhibits. Sadly, there were no newborn animals the day we went-- I'm good with pigs, goats, sheep, cows -- any will do. We took the kids to see their first horse race. None of their picks placed but it was fun and also a good math lesson for them. Dave and I used to see the horses run at Golden Gate Fields quite a bit before we had kids.

The Pinks ate their fill of Tummy Trash, (as shown by Thing 2, here), and also had unlimited wristbands for the carnival rides. The day wasn't too hot and it felt like a pure and simple summer day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Done.

My mother has retired!

The official retirement party was last night. At left are my parents, brother and Ice Cream SIL, Dave and the five granddaughters. Yes, my mother and I have the same haircut, she's 2 inches taller than me and she weighs 20 lbs less. And yes, Eldest Daughter is 1 inch shorter than me. I've got issues right now.

My mother has made her career as a paralegal. She was one of the first graduates from San Francisco State's Paralegal Studies Program and thus enjoyed a long ride in a still-growing field. We're very proud of her.

I struggled with what to get her as a retirement gift. She'd love a day at the Claremont Spa but you do it and poof, it's over. Instead I took our resident fashionista, Thing 1, to Lucy to select a few cute activewear outfits. Of course she needs to donate all her work clothes to Wardrobe for Opportunity. As she unwrapped them I cautioned her that it's a slippery slope between wearing yogawear and looking schlumpy. This talk was fairly irrelevant, though, as this is the woman who says to me every so often, "Honey, did you want to wear a little makeup?" I'm still not sure why I need to wear makeup on days I hang out with my immediate family and parents?

What I did not anticipate, however, was how much fun the party would be for me! The interesting people my father cowboys around with. Annie, who used to live across the street from my parents with her first husband and Terry, who lives in that house now. Renata and Mark, who have barely aged since we met 30 years ago. It was also shocking and a bit unnerving how much some of these people knew about me!

My father retired five years ago and has many hobbies and friends. My mom does, too, and we don't anticipate them having those turf issues you hear about with some retired couples. My brother and I have made it very clear that she is welcome to spend as much time with her five adoring granddaughters as she wants. Now if only we can get her to set up a Google Calendar so we can schedule that bonding time around their travels!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Exactly how do you define naked?

This was the topic of conversation Sunday morning on our way into the city for the San Francisco Pride Parade. I took Eldest Daughter, who is 12, and her friend Zee. What a blast!

It was a quick 30 minute BART ride into the city. When we got to Oakland, the flavor of the passengers began to change. The A's fans got off and the Rainbow Contingent got on. More and more stops brought more and more tutu'd, leather-clad, tattooed, pierced, tie-died wearing people. And also more people with less and less on.

As we left the BART station Eldest Daughter gasped audibly: she saw a woman wearing a mesh t shirt with nothing underneath. As we left the city she said, "Mom, was anyone out there wearing a bra today?"

I pushed Eldest Daughter and Zee right up to the barrier to get the full parade experience. I felt like Switzerland where I was positioned: to my right was a demonstrative male duo. To my left stood a tourist couple, the man clinging on to his guide book and with a camera hung around his neck. In a slow, deep drawl he kept repeating, "This is just wrong." But he didn't look away either.

The Pride Celebration reminded me how lucky I am to be an American and especially a Californian. Yes on Prop 8 and all that. I'm happy to live in a place where people can march for what they believe in and show their real selves, or at least dress up for a day.