November 2007


Blue Bottle in SF

After hearing about this coffee from everyone, I finally went to the Blue Bottle coffee stand in Hayes valley to see what all the fuss is. I ended up getting an espresso and a drip coffee. I’m not much of a coffee drinker, although ever since coming back from Italy, I have been enjoying my espressos. This one was very, very thick and strong. It had no bitterness however and very good crema. I thoroughly enjoyed my espresso but was surprised by how thick it was. I figured everyone else around me was ordering the drip coffee so I figured I should as well. The coffee was outstanding and my sister and Courtney concur.

It was a very New York feeling, finding this small stand tucked away on an alley away from traffic to see a line of people waiting just for coffee. After having it though, it seems it is worth the wait. Apparently Blue Bottle will not sell it’s coffee unless it is under 2 days since the beans have been roasted, so you will always have very freshly roasted coffee, and it shows. As a plus they carry Miette pastries in case you need a snack.

Blue Bottle in SF

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Mix in Iron Chef with an intriguing story and Korean cuisine! Out in theaters in Korea “Le Grand Chef” now taps into the increasing popularity of food and cooking movies. I can’t wait to see this film.

Trailer below:

Looking for a spot to eat after a few games of bowling in Alameda, we decided to go to a small Burmese restaurant. We noticed that the decor had changed but didn’t think much of it. However it then became apparent that the restaurant that we thought we were in, Hinh Tha, was no longer. It is now called Bagan Restaurant, and to our surprise, in very small print it said “A Burma Superstar Restaurant”. Apparently the previous owner had sold the space to the same family that runs Burma Superstar. There as the same items on the menu as it’s San Francisco pair, but there is no line to wait and all the food that we had was excellent.

The great thing about Burmese food is that it is both familiar and exotic in its tastes. The familiar side comes from it’s link to Indian and Thai cuisine, but the exotic come from the slight differences in the flavor combinations that it uses.
We had the Tea Leaf Salad, which is always a favorite at Burma Superstar. We followed with the Samusa Soup, which was spicy and the highlight of the meal. For our mains, we had the Garlic and Chili Shrimp which had the most familiar of flavors since there isn’t much variety that can be had with garlic and chili, and a noodle dish, which was my least favorite, but still very good. Dessert was coconut ice cream over a type of pancake or flan.

I definitely was very glad to find such a great restaurant and recommend it. The waiter did say that they were trying to keep the restaurant a little quiet since they have only been open for 2 months and are still feeling out what their capacity is. There are still trying to get into a groove, but worth it. Next time I will remember to take some photos.

Bagan is located on Park between Alameda and Central. Already on yelp.

There is nothing quite like secret societies, especially when they do things like this. The Untergunther, the cultural restorative arm of the UX, an underground Parisian society, has restored a clock in the Panthéon in Paris unbeknownst to the museum. Check out this article in the Guardian about a Paris Underground. Pics of the the clock restoration can be found here. I wonder what other activities they have done throughout the city. For those who speak French here is the Untergunther site.

In the winter of 2001 I finally got to fulfill one of my wishes, to travel around the world. I had a good 3 weeks to travel the world. I booked an around the world ticket through Airtreks. They specialize in around the world tix as well as circle Pacific and circle Asia tix. You can customize you tickets to allow for ground transportation as well as any connecting flights. Well worth a look at if you are interested.

Inspired by Amelie, which came out that year, I decided to highjack a friend of mine’s coconut pirate from his office and shoot pictures from my travels.

San Francisco to Washington D.C.

Around the World 2001 - Washington DC

I started from San Francisco and booked a flight to Washington D.C. to visit my sister. The pic should be obvious. I tried to find iconic places that symbolized each of the places that I visited. It was a little difficult to take a picture of the pirate in front of the White House, so I went with this pic instead. I have visited DC many times before, but this was one of the first times to actually go out to the monuments and actually sight see.

Washington D.C. to Barcelona, Spain

Around the World 2001 - Barcelona

My next destination was Barcelona. I’ve always wanted to visit Spain so I chose this location. I stayed at a cheap hostel and really got to experience late night dining and partying. I ended up getting to a club a little too early 11pm, so I took a nap and went back around 1am and it was still a little empty. Barcelona is beautiful, but it was a little difficult to be there by oneself. I definitely would have enjoyed it with someone else. This pic is at the Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi.

Barcelona, Spain to Prague, Czech Republic

Around the World 2001 - Prague

What better place to be around the holidays that cold, cold, Prague. It ended up being a great time to be there due to all the Christmas Markets all around and the fresh, delicious, mulled wine. I ended up drinking lots of Becherovka while in Prague. I also met some great girls from Scotland and learned the term “being skint”. I tried to think of a good pic for this leg of my trip and ended up with the Prague Castle in the background. I probably should have taken a pic of the Charles Square or the Charles Bridge.

Prague, Czech Republic to Seoul, South Korea (via London)

Around the World 2001 - Seoul

Next leg was the longest leg of my trip. I ended up having to connect from Prague to London to Seoul. It was definitely interesting seeing the flight status map in the plane and seeing names that definitely was not familiar since you end up flying over Siberia to get to South Korea. I was trying to find a mid place destination but was short on time and money since I knew that I needed to stop in Korea and Japan. Again, Seoul wasn’t a place that I did much sightseeing since my parents live there, but I ended up going to Kanghwa Castle. That is where the pic is taken.

Seoul, South Korea to Tokyo, Japan and Kyoto, Japan

Around the World 2001 - Kyoto

My final destination turned out to be the most problematic for the coconut pirate. I ended up having no problems throughout all my journey with customs until Japan. They saw the coconut and started to grill me about what it was and to make sure it wasn’t food that I was bringing in. I ended up finally convincing them that it was an art sculpture and let me on my way. Again I was thinking of an iconic place for my picture in Tokyo and probably should have picked the street crossing in Shinjuku, or maybe Tokyo Tower, or the Imperial Castle, but ended up traveling down to Kyoto and shooting a picture there at one of the temples.

Tokyo, Japan to San Francisco, California, USA

I finally arrived back home in San Francisco after a memorable and once in a lifetime trip. I did however forgot to take a picture of the coconut pirate with an iconic San Francisco location. I think this calls for another around the world trip.

Foods of Cinque Terre

We had some fabulous food while staying in Cinque Terre.
Starting clockwise from the top left corner, we had to have the pesto. The pesto in the region is delicious. It is the only pasta dish that you will get parmesan cheese to add to your dish. Creamy without being milky, garlicky without smelling of garlic for days, and just the right amount of basil. This was from a restaurant in Manarola on the main strip of restaurants towards the pier, though I can’t remember the name. It was open relatively late. Delicious.

We ended up going to this restaurant in Monterosso al Mare twice since the food was so good called Miky. It was the most sophisticated out of all the restaurants in Cinque Terre, but was well worth it for the quality. It can get crowded but we lucked out and got in without reservations for dinner. We went back for lunch the next day. The first pic is from one of their signature dishes. They take pasta with seafood and cook it partially. Then they put the ingredients all in a casserole dish and cover it with pizza dough. You then bake it to capture in the flavors and infuse it into the pasta. It is then served table side to you by opening up the dough and placing it on your table. You end up with a pasta with pizza dough underneath. Delicious.

Next pic is one of many foccaciarias in Cinque Terre. I’m normally not a foccacia fan but I never knew that there was so much variety in your simple foccacia. I believe this one is from a place in Manarola as well. Delicious.

The last pic is one again from Miky. I started with an anchovy sampler. It came with simple anchovy with oil, with lemon, fried anchovy, then finally stuffed anchovy. Delicious.

We had many other great meals in Cinque Terre. Another highligh was at Restaurant de Billy in Manarola. Make reservations since this is a great little spot with a great view. Unfortunately the pics we took didn’t turn out so great. We had some pasta then some grilled fish. Delicious.


Cinque Terre - the drinks


The drinks in Cinque Terre were also fabulous. Starting clockwise from the top left corner.

I’ve had regular affogatos before. I think it translates as drunken, not as in alcoholic, but submerged in liquid. However, in the land of smaller portions and realistic European portions, this was the one thing that I ordered that I felt was supersized. However I didn’t care. Creamy vanilla gelato with espresso added. Delicious.

Another great thing at Miky was the fact that some of your dishes came with not one but several basalmic vinegars to try out with your meal. The center bottle was definitely the highlight, slightly acidic, not too goopy, and just the right tones. Delicious.

With wine all around you in Cinque Terre we couldn’t say no. The two main types that we ran across was Sciachetra and Cinque Terre White Wine. Unfortunately we didn’t really discover the beauty of Sciachetra till our final days in Cinque Terre. It is a brownish, brunette colored dessert wine that tastes like a cross between a port and a banyuls. It isn’t syrupy, isn’t overly sweet, and isn’t too sharp. Delicious.

Finally we tried several bottles of the Cinque Terre wine from around the 5 Towns. This is a pic of one from the Riommaggiore town, but we found that the Manarola DOC tasted better over this one. Regardless, I’m becoming more and more a white wine fan and this one is special. I will start hunting this wine down to enjoy at home. It is refreshing with a crispness that isn’t sharp or bitter. Not buttery like Chardonnay, but not acidic like Pinot Grigio. Delicious.

Bake Sale Betty's

The bad news: now that the word is out, there is a line going out the door for Bake Sale Betty’s. The good news: it goes by fast. I think that they finally figured out that the demand for the chicken sandwiches is high. I got there around 12:20 but they assured me that they will not run out of the chicken sandwiches. They apologized for the line and even offered up some delicious shortcakes for free. I like the use of ironing boards as makeshift outdoor tables.

The sandwiches are still delicious though I think the cabbage mix has lost a little of it’s tang and there are less jalapenos, equalling less kick. One of these days I will try out the egg sandwich.

Don’t be discouraged by the line, but the secret is out, according to this article. You can make your own chicken sandwiches if you don’t want to brave the line. It is a double edged sword. You want someone to succeed if the product is worth it, but you also don’t want too many people to know about it. You especially don’t want that said product to be compromised by said demand. My friend, Thomas, said it was like your favorite band that you once saw at a small club, that is now playing the stadiums.

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