Tag Archives: Ferry Building

Buy Me Something Good to Eat!

As I’ve mentioned 1,000 times*, it’s crunch week at my office. The new semester starts next week, so this week is all about Getting Shit Done. How does crunch week affect my life? For starters, I have to work a full five days instead of my typical four (#totalfirstworldproblem). Also, I may have to stay past 5:00 on Friday (#thehorror!). Aside from that, it’s pretty much bizness as usual.

Fortunately, crunch week gave me an excuse to buy myself a few treats Tuesday night. Evenings, I walk up the Embarcadero (past the Ferry Building) to my MUNI stop. Nine times out of ten, I resist the temptation to shop. Tuesday night, my willpower caved. I headed straight for Acme Bread, where I got this gorgeous loaf: It’s whole wheat with walnuts: a crusty, heavy loaf with a gorgeously crisp crust. When I removed it from its bag, I got flour all over my hands, my floor, and my black dress. No matter — the bread was #worthit. Dinner consisted of — you guessed it! — a Caprese salad, a slab o’ bread, and a glass of Sauvignon blanc. The kitchen door stood open, letting a small breeze through, and I lit my pine-scented candle. A cozy meal, I must say.

The bread wasn’t my only treat, though. Inspired by Monday’s cookieventures, I snagged a jar of lavender salt from Prather Ranch Meat Company: (I tried to disguise the blurriness of this photo by applying a grainy, scratchy filter: you like?)

The dude who sold me the salt assured me that I was making a Good Decision.

“You like baked potatoes?” He asked.

“Um, yeah,” I said. (Confession: I only like baked sweet potatoes.)

“Well,” he said, “this salt is fucking awesome on baked potatoes. It’s also good on everything else.”

Good on everything else? Yes please! If there’s one trait I admire in a spice (or condiment, or grain, or anything), it’s versatility. My next batch of muesli will include lavender salt. Hell, maybe I’ll make a baked potato just to see what this salt can do.

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*Maybe not on the blog, but IRL/via text/via email/via telepathy/&c.

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Cornbread Addendum

Per my plan to stop watching so damn much TV and spend my evenings doing things*, I whipped up another batch of Bittman’s cornbread last night. Per my goal to become more mindful (of my surroundings, of my current activity, and so on), I did not multitask while preparing the batter. That’s right: I waited to call my sis until after the batter was in the oven and I’d started cleanup. My attentiveness paid off: this loaf was superlative.

Mark Bittman’s recipe calls for butter or olive oil. I used the latter — more specifically, Stonehouse blood orange olive oil that Hook bought at the Ferry Building. My logic maintained that the citrus notes and faint sweetness of the oil would make this killer bread even more lethal; as sometimes happens, my logic was correct. Enjoyed with a pat of butter and a frosty Spaten, my blood orange cornbread made the perfect post-dinner snack/dessert. (Classifications: who needs ’em? One man’s snack is another’s dessert…)

Lesson learned from this baking experience: it pays to include all the ingredients in a recipe, especially butter (or oil).

My next cornbread experiment will be jalapeno and cheese cornbread. After that: pepper cornbread? Vanilla sugar cornbread? March is going to be Cornbread Month: this much I know is true.

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*You know: verifiable activities with a beginning/middle/end, and preferably with a tangible end result.

“Will Write For Food:” Dianne Jacob at Book Passage

Yesterday after work, Hook and I hopped over to the Ferry Building to hear Dianne Jacob promote the new edition of her how-to book Will Write For Food. Moved to action by the absence of any comprehensive instructional text about food writing (in all its various forms),  Jacob took it upon herself to create such a manual. I read the first edition a few months ago and found the book’s structure helpful for the time-pressed or singularly focused reader; each chapter addresses either a different style of food-related writing (i.e., how to write a proper restaurant review, how to write a recipe, how to write food-centric fiction) or a step in the process of getting one’s work published.

The new edition of "Will Write For Food," available now.

As is my way, I read the book from start to finish, covering the chapters that might not pertain to me yet, but whose information might come in handy at some later date. You never know.

Jacob noted that the biggest change to the updated edition is the inclusion of a chapter about blogging. The practice of food blogging, as we know, has exploded in popularity in recent years; that said, roughly 80% of extant blogs lie dormant*. Jacob related her own difficulties with blogging (“After a time, I wondered, ‘How do you come up with things to write?'”) and cautioned food bloggers not to give away their milk for free, so to speak. Warned Jacob,  if someone — an anthology compiler, say, or a cookbook author — asks to use a recipe or piece from your blog without offering monetary compensation, don’t let them! Word up.

Jacob also spoke briefly to the plight of freelance writers (i.e., that the recession is wrecking their careers), to the plight of underpaid restaurant reviewers, to the future of food-related apps. I agreed with all of her points save one: that Yelp and Chowhound and other such services are undermining the traditional print (now digital print) restaurant review. “If I’m in a neighborhood I don’t know and I’m looking for a restaurant, am I going to check Yelp, or am I going to see what Michael Bauer has to say?” mused Jacob.

A fair question. A frequent Yelp user, I’ll agree that I’d sooner use that service to find a quick bite than scour the archives of the Chronicle to see what Bauer has to say about each restaurant in a given spatial radius. But comparing Michael Bauer’s reviews to those posted by Yelpers is a case of apples and oranges, it seems. I don’t read Yelp postings for pleasure; I use them only for information and I take that information with a grain of salt. Yelp is helpful at best, hopelessly inaccurate at worst. Its users aren’t held accountable for their opinions, and Yelpers’ motivations are unclear: most want to provide what they view as an honest account of a restaurant (or bar, or dentist), but some posters are just curmudgeonly. Moreover, the writing on Yelp is atrocious! I can’t read more than five reviews in one sitting, lest my eyes liquefy and my frontal cortex explode. Srsly.

I read professional restaurant reviews for the same reason I read novels, essays, and features in the New Yorker: for the poetry imparted by the author, the expertise bolstering the author’s opinion, and the pleasure to be found in good writing. Yelp has its place, and Michael Bauer has his place, and those places are in different area codes.

Ah, but I digress. Jacob’s talk was informative, light, and brief, if attended by an audience of shameless self-promoters (but what can you expect)? Verdict: I’ll be ordering the updated version of Will Write to check out Jacob’s tips on blogging. In the meantime, don’t expect any changes here in Garkyland: I’m comfortable with things just the way they are.

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*So says Jacob. Though the stat wasn’t cited, I believe it.