Tag Archives: Tecate

A Day In the Life

When I say I eat like a frat guy, I’m not kidding around. I thought of this a moment ago as my glance lighted on the plate that, just minutes earlier, had held BBQ-chicken frozen pizza and a s’mores Pop Tart. (Yep, it was that kind of night.)

As an ode to tried-and-true features in women’s magazines everywhere, I thought I’d post a tru-lyfe account of my day in food. Ahem!

I allllllmost bought these, but resisted. #admirablerestraint

8:30: Woke up; a bit rugged. Put coffee on before I showered and, post-shower, horqed said coffee and a small bowl of hippie cereal (feat. flax, pumpkin seeds, oats, etc.)

1:00: After a leisurely Target jaunt during which clearance wine, cat litter, and a king-sized box of Cheez Its were purchased, it was lunchtime. Klassy dames that we are, Sabina and I hit up the adjacent Hooters, where I enjoyed most of an order of boneless buffalo wings and half a plate of fries. Also a bloody Mary: Grey Goose and extra olives.

It should be noted that our lunch visit coincided with a casting call for the show “Bad Girls Club,” which I’ve never seen. Our waitress described the show’s premise as “ghetto girls fighting with each other.” I don’t understand the absence of an apostrophe in the title. Moving on!

6:00: Returned home, where Sarah, Brent, and Kent were sippin’ Tecates. In solidarity, I also sipped one.

6:47: Hunger strikes! Noshed Cheez Its while chatting with mother on phone.

7:47: Dinnertime. Rather than cooking Actual Food, I succumbed to my baser urges and popped in a frozen pizza. Ate half of said pizza while scanning my G-reader and listening to The Kinks. For dessert? A s’mores Pop Tart straight from the freezer. Frozen Pop-Tart filling has a consistency similar to that of saltwater taffy, which is one reason I like the treats frozen rather than cooked.

***

There you go: a day in the dietary life of Garky. I’ll admit, I wrote this post mainly to amuse myself, but if y’all gain secondary enjoyment from reading about my simple-carb consumption, all the better! Perhaps A Day in the Life will become a recurrent feature? We shall see.

PS: Totally listened to “A Day in the Life” while writing, natch. Hadn’t heard the song in years but man, has it held up.

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27 is the Loveliest Number

I hadn’t thought so until recently, but it’s confirmed: 27 is the noblest of ages. (!).

Thursday was my birthday. I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, but I wasn’t extraordinarily stoked for this b-day: I wouldn’t be gaining any new privileges (legal or otherwise), I wouldn’t be hitting any chronological milestones, and I hadn’t had the foresight to take the day off work.

That’s not to say I was unstoked — I look forward to any instance of frosting-eating. I’m just saying that this birthday didn’t produce the level of anticipation as, say, my 21st birthday, or my 25th.

Guess what? This birthday (birthday weekend, as it were) was totally awesome. Here’s a breakdown of the highlights:

1) Office Pizza Party. My sis and coworkers (NDW, Anne, Stephanie, Brent, and Stephen) joined forces to throw me a lunchtime pizza party! The pizza was from Irving, of course; of course, Sys ordered my favorite combo: half pepperoni, half jalapeno + pineapple. (Note: people were seriously impressed by the jalapeno/pineapple combo. And I was like, “Consider this your formal introduction to the Queen of Pizzas.” There’s a reason I eat this pie like, once a week.)

The party didn’t stop with the ‘za, though: my pals also got a delicious cake (chocolate with white icing and choco frosting between the layers), which they adorned with a yellow-eyed chocolate bunny. (How nice that my birthday fell shortly after Easter, yes?) The cake decorator, in a burst of ingenuity, frosted my initials on a clear piece of plastic that was placed atop the cake. Why the decorator did this, no one knows, but this detail amused us all.

And Tampico: let us not forget Tampico! Stephanie brought back fond childhood memories with her purchase of bright pink punch. The taste is hard to describe, but I’ll liken it to the nectar you put in hummingbird feeders. That shit is SWEET.

A giant THANK YOU to my pals for throwing me such an awesome and sugary fete: you guys are the best!(!!)

Ti Couz's take on the shandy: it was as refreshing as it looks.

2) Dinner at Bar Jules. The Garky Girls are bad at keeping secrets. It’s impossible for us not to tell each other what we’ve gotten each other for Christmas (or birthdays, or Halloween, &c). We can’t hide our sadness or our exuberance. It’s cool: we’ve learned to cope by honing our faux-surprise skills. Hook, unlike us, is the master of keeping secrets, and he kept the location of my b-day dinner under wraps until half an hour before our reservation. That takes some skill.

Neither of us had been to Bar Jules; both of us have been itching to try it. Like so many restaurants in the city, Bar makes use of local, seasonal ingredients. Unlike its siblings, Bar structures its menu (which changes daily) around that morning’s market offerings. Each day, the menu is rewritten, and that evening’s guests can once again be surprised.

What caught my eye was the lamb chops, served with a gratin of potato, leek, and escarole. I’d actually had a steak hankering, but lamb sounded pretty good, too. Hook ordered a salad of little gem lettuces, radishes, feta, and dressing, followed by striped bass (salted; stuffed with fennel and lemon before being cooked) served with beets and the daintiest cucumbers of all time. Predictably (but no less laudably), our food was delicious. Served medium-rare, the chops were nearly identical in symmetry and pinkness; the lamb had a rich flavor, complemented by the wine I’d selected (Pino Nero, if you must know). The real star, though, was the gratin: those fingerling potatoes (more like fingernail potatoes, so tiny they were) were tender. The leeks added depth of flavor, and the breadcrumbs lent necessary crunch to an otherwise soft dish.

Hook was keen on his choices, as well. Our one complaint (aside from the fact that we’d evidently booked a res during geriatric dinner) was the limited menu. I understand Bar Jules’ desire to serve only items at the height of freshness; still, a beef option (that’s not steak tartare) would have been nice. I was craving steak, yo. Lamb is good, but it’s not steak. Capish?

Whether we’ll return to Bar Jules is undecided. Given the short menu and the plenitude of other great eateries, we might pass. Then again, we’ve been known to give plenty of places a second chance, deserved or otherwise. Time will tell! In all cases, time will tell.

Birthday portrait! Note the budding sunburn.

3) Surprise Picnic at Dolores Park! If you thought the birthday festivities ended when the sun set on the 28th, you thought wrong. Hook had planned a supersecret surprise picnic.

After brunch at Ti Couz (arranged by Sabina @ Hook’s request, so as not to arouse suspicion), H. suggested that we stroll to the park.

“Well…” I said. “I don’t know. I have some stuff to do.”

“It’s a beautiful day,” he countered. “We don’t have to stay very long.”

I knew something was up. I caved, and gladly. There, in our typical spot on the hill, were my pals, snacks and Tecate in tow. Acknowledging my love of frosting, Hook had ordered three varieties of Bi-Rite cupcakes: chocolate with mint frosting; banana with peanut brittle frosting, which was topped with crushed peanuts; and chocolate with buttercream frosting blobs (themselves encased in a thinner layer of chocofrosting).

Until Saturday, I’d only had Bi-Rite’s ice cream (HOME RUN). Rest assured, I’ll return for the ‘cakes. Heavy on the icing, the cupcakes were moist, rich, and of moderate denseness — I like my cake with a denser crumb, to be sure, but these weren’t slouchy. To the sadness of all gathered, the frosting began to melt in the intense afternoon heat,* rivulets of buttery sugar easing off the cakes’ domed tops.

Left to right: mint, banana, and plain ol' chocolate. Eff yeah.

Don’t even worry, though: we solved that problem. We solved it good. By the time the heat had broken, only two or three of the original two-dozen cupcakes remained. I hope that those remainders nourished some worthy raccoon (or, more likely, rat). I hope that glorious frosting fueled some dog’s pursuit of a frisbee. At the very least, I hope that frosting did not melt and puddle, only to coagulate at the bottom of the cardboard box.

And that, friends, was my birthday weekend. Pretty damn enjoyable, if I do say so myself. I was left with a wicked bad sunburn (thanks, strapless dress + inadequate application of sunscreen!) and a moderate case of heat exhaustion, but those were a small price to pay for such buttery, friend-filled revelry. I don’t know how 27 will shape up, but I hope last weekend was a predictor of things to come.

***

*Which is not a phrase you’ll usually see associated with San Francisco, ever.

Beyond City Limits

I am becoming a “City Person.” Some people claim I’ve already achieved City Person status, but this point is debatable. I have to say, it’s hard not to be a City Person when everything one needs is right around the corner (or no further than a twenty-minute bike ride, at least). High-end taxidermic goods? Step this way! Pain au Chocolate? Walk 50 yards and take a left. The biggest and best used CD selection I’ve ever had the fortune to witness? About a block from my house, beetches. Ah, yes: San Francisco is indeed the finest city in our fair land, so leaving it for any length of time can be difficult. On occasion, though, I brave the trip.

One such occasion was Saturday’s rooftop BBQ, hosted by my friends Melanie and Phil. After five happy years together, Melanie and Phil got engaged last week(!) and threw a barbecue to celebrate not only their upcoming nuptials but the gorgeous summer weather we’ve had in recent weeks. That, and their apartment building — blocks away from Lake Merritt and with an excellent view — has a badass and accommodating roof.

H. and I arrived around 5:30 to find M. making final meal preparations. Earlier in the day, she and Phil had marinated rough-cut veggies, chicken, and beef for the creation of skewers: EVOO & herb-rubbed veggies, BBQ chicken, Greek chicken, and mustard beef. In addition, M. had whipped up vegan potato salad and a vegan chocolate cake, frosted with ganache and topped with fresh raspberries. To this bounteous feast, H. and I contributed a pumpkin pie, a batch of strawberry-buttermilk muffins, and a bowl of the two-bean salad I became so fond of in grad school. (Note: this batch of salad was gussied up with a few additional ingredients, namely finely-chopped radishes, fresh peas, and feta.) Oh, and a 12-pack of Tecate, whose contents were added to the foam cooler brimming with like beers and scant-spread ice.

M. put us to work creating veggie skewers while she and Phil took care of the meat. Slowly, guests arrived, spirits high and beers in tow. They settled on the couch, remarked on the spaciousness and beautiful light of M. & P.’s living room, which Hook described as “chalet-like” and another guest termed “Mock Tudor.” (Both, I think, were correct.) Finally, the food was prepped. We slipped on our coats, slung blankets over our arms, and trekked to the roof, taking the service elevator and a series of perilous staircases to get there.

The evening was already cool; I was glad for the coat M. had lent me. (True to form, I’d come underdressed in a 3/4-sleeve shirt and thin down vest. When will I ever learn to Layer Correctly? Oy!) We spread a blanket over the gravel-topped ground and P. lit the grill. We shivered in our chairs as the coals flamed, subsided, smoldered. On the lake, bordered by white lights strung high above the street, a few stragglers pushed rented gondolas. Gondolas? I thought, In Oakland? Yes. Just one more reason to get out of the city once in a while — you don’t know what you’ll see.

As Phil tended the skewers, we ate a first course of salads. M.’s potato salad was unbelievable — and I’m not a potato salad fan. Her secret? She uses four types of spuds, vegan mayonnaise, good mustard, and chopped cornichons. What I dislike about most other potato salads is their mayo-ness; I’ve never liked comercially-prepared mayonnaise, so it follows that I wouldn’t like salads constructed around that ingredient. M.’s salad had a bold flavor dominated by the mustard and pickles; I could scarcely taste the vegannaise at all. I’ll be getting the recipe from Mel, if she’s willing to part with it.

At long last, we had skewers! H. and I shared a number of veggie and beef kebabs, both of which were gorgeous: charred on the outside, hot and juicy within. The veggies were good; the beef were amazing. Allowed for hours to absorb the mustard’s flavor, the beef — just the slightest bit rare on the inside — was alternated with like-marinated pieces of apple and onion, making a simple, hearty, perfect autumn dish. And dessert? Oh, goodness. No true Midwesterners would host a BBQ without having several desserts, and M. & P. did not disappoint. M’s chocolate cake was dense and crumbly and the flavor of the bourbon she used in the frosting came through, slow and deep. Peter’s gluten-free fruit tartlets were decadent, the fruit fresh and the tart shells crisp and buttery, reminiscent of shortbread. (“I did use more butter to make up for the lack of wheat,” P admitted. YES.) And my pie? All I can say is that Peter, a native of Germany and heretofore a stranger to pumpkin pie, ate four slices. A lifelong pie fan, I ate only one. Before we settled in the living room for more beer and a rousing game of Cranium, the pie was gone, its tin scraped and sticky and knife-punctured.

Congrats, Melanie and Phil! As we Russians say, God grant you many years.

***

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
heaping 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs, blended with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz.) 100% pure pumpkin
12 oz. half & half

unbaked 9-inch pie crush (store bought is good; homemade is better)

Method:

1. Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together the eggs and vanilla and blend with the pumpkin; fold this into the dry mixture, then gradually add the half and half. Pour pumpkin batter into pie crust.

2. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

3. Cool on wire rack for 2-hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate, but never freeze! (Freezing will evidently cause the baked pie filling to separate from the crust. At any rate, I don’t know why you’d want to freeze a pie this good.) This pie is best served with fresh whipped cream and coffee.