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February 24, 2011

...And back again

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Tammi and I got back from Barcelona this afternoon. It was a great trip and I've got loads to write about. I hope to spend the next day or two catching up on my posts about this trip, San Francisco, Aspen and Hong Kong.

February 18, 2011

SF: Stopover

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On my way back home from Aspen, I ended up with an unscheduled 18 hour layover in San Francisco. I'm happy with any time I get to spend in the Bay Area, so it was welcome. Most especially since between the snow storm I had just come from and the ice storm that had covered pretty much the rest of the country had left California blissfully alone.

I credit those few hours in SF for planting the seed in my head that I absolutely needed to get the hell out of dodge and that convinced me to go for tomorrow's trip to Barcelona. I'm so sick of being cold. Four days in the 60's without the spectre of another cold snap and any moment will be like heaven.

August 11, 2010

Quick Bite: Bar Bambino

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Before heading out of San Francisco in June, my colleagues and I grabbed lunch at Bar Bambino in The Mission. Here are a few analog shots from the meal.

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Continue reading "Quick Bite: Bar Bambino" »

August 5, 2010

Analog: San Francisco

Cable Car

I took the first batch of Ektar winnings out for a spin on my trip to San Francisco in June.

Buddhist Monk

Last week, I finally got it developed. After looking through all of it, I have to say, I'm hooked on analog all over again. Follow the jump for some SF Street Photography.

Continue reading "Analog: San Francisco" »

August 2, 2010

Quick Bite: Stuffed Squash Blossoms at Rustic Tavern

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Rustic Tavern, Santa Monica, Los Angeles. 2009.

July 30, 2010

SF: Lark Creek Steak

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While in San Francisco, my colleagues and I had dinner at Lark Creek Steak upstairs at the Westfield Mall, the place with the awesome food court I mentioned last year.

The best part was that we scored seats at the counter, watching all the action in the kitchen. The food was great, but for me, the more entertaining part was watching (and shooting) the staff as they worked.

Check out some of the highlights after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Lark Creek Steak" »

July 27, 2010

Quick Bite: Tapenade

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Olive Tapenade, Fraiche, Los Angeles. 2009.

July 16, 2010

SF: Boccalone's Nduja

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While in San Francisco, I always try to swing by Boccalone in the Ferry Building. A couple years back, Chris Cosentino, the offal-loving chef of Incanto, opened up this Italian charcuterie shop selling all sorts of interesting salumi including 'fennel-orange' and this, nduja.

Pronounced, end-oo-ya, this spicy sausage evoked a bit of mystery last year when the NY Times wrote up a piece about it calling it "The Lady Gaga of pork products." So, yeah, that's a little stupid, but I had to taste it anyway.

Take a look under the wraps after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Boccalone's Nduja" »

July 15, 2010

SF: 4505 Meats

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Unfortunately, I didn't end up finding time during my trip to San Francisco to do a butchery shoot with Ryan Farr as I'd hoped to do after meeting him at Cochon 555 in the spring. I did manage to catch up with him briefly at his stand at the Thursday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.

I spoke to him for a bit while he was setting up and he gave me a quick taste of the day's special. It was all i could do to walk around and wait for them to start serving to get a full serving for myself.

Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: 4505 Meats" »

July 7, 2010

Los Angeles-less

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The powers that be have decreed that I won't be making my annual pilgrimage to Los Angeles this year.

What's funny is that, I dreaded going to LA my first couple times out there, but after getting my bearings - and a ton of recommendations from friends - I really came to enjoy it out there.

Sadly, I suspect the most work travel the job will be sending me on will be to the mothership in the depths of Office Park Land.

June 28, 2010

SF: Incanto

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My first meal in SF was an early birthday dinner at Incanto, Chris Cosentino's Italian offal house in Noe Valley has long been on my wishlist of places to eat, but was never convenient when I was in town. This trip, I made time for it.

The food after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Incanto" »

June 22, 2010

Quick Drink: French 75

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You may have noticed by now that my drinking habits tend toward the beer and wine. I typically steer clear of cocktails, but when my waiter at Incanto recommended Heaven's Dog in San Francisco's SOMA Grand hotel as a great cocktail bar, I wasn't going to walk in and ask for their wine list.

Instead, I asked the bartender to come up with a concoction friendly to someone who liked the bubbles of beer or a sparkling and wasn't so into a strong liquor flavor.

He came up with the French 75, a classic drink he said was mentioned in Casablanca.

The drink mixes cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice in crushed ice, strains it in chilled champagne glass, then gets topped off with champagne. The citrus cut through the liquor flavor, although by the end the pucker was a little intense. Even so, I'd definitely order it again if I walked into a cocktail bar and wanted something refreshing that wasn't going to knock me down.

June 9, 2010

San Francisco by Bartender

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This is probably my 10th or 11th trip to San Francisco in the last eight years. I like it here, I feel like I have a good lay of the land and know a fair number of great places to eat and drink. The only problem is that since I'm almost always here for work geekery, my free time is limited and so I often end up returning to the same old favorite places and neighborhoods and don't get quite so much time to explore.

I usually ask around for recommendations, but this year I've got a theme. asked a few bartender friends for recommendations for both bars and restaurants to visit while in the area.

The list is extensive and if I get to a fraction of these places in the next four days, I'll be lucky. Similarly, if I added links and whatnot to every place listed, this post would never go up. Google's your friend folks, sorry.

After the jump, the bartenders and their recs. As a bonus, I also got a list of recommendations from the waiter at Incanto, where I had dinner Sunday night (more on that to come).

Continue reading "San Francisco by Bartender" »

June 6, 2010

Take the Train to the Plane

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Well, I'm taking a cab, but I loved those old commercials when I was a kid.

After this wonderfully full and celebratory week, I didn't think I could top it in New York, so I'm off to San Francisco to celebrate some more.

Actually, I'm going for a conference and will be surrounded by geekdom all day, but a trip to SF is always a good excuse to catch up with friends, photograph, explore and eat great food.

Stay tuned for updates from out west.

March 23, 2010

Butchery: Ryan Farr at Cochon 555

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Friday night I got an email from FoodBuzz telling me that I'd won a pair of tickets to Cochon 555, two days away. I was elated. At the event, chefs from some of the best restaurants in town had their way with five 125 pound pigs and handed out the results to attendees.

Yet, I only ate a couple small plates. Why? Because I'm a meat nerd and butchery awaited. Instead of grazing all evening, I spent a couple hours in the corner watching Ryan Farr, San Francisco's butcher king take apart a whole pig of his own.

Farr went muscle by muscle to show us cuts and techniques that I can't wait to try at home.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

He frenched a loin rack like one would a lamb roast. I think I'd have to see that several more times to even contemplate doing something like that.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Really though, the coolest part was what Farr did with the head. He deboned it, removing the skull, then he stuffed the face with shoulder meat. After that, he sewed it all up with butchers' twine and a needle. See the slideshow after the jump for a blow by blow.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

I think I've found my next butchering challenge. Seriously, I've been all about cheeks and such for ages, it's time to graduate up to a whole head.

Talking to Farr about the classes he teaches back in San Francisco, I found out that unlike the classes here in New York, his classes are completely hands-on.

Before the session, I introduced myself and told him about my Butchery project. He was into the idea and told me I'd be welcome to come in to photograph a class the next time I'm in San Francisco. I'm hoping to be there over the summer at some point, so keep your fingers crossed.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Continue reading "Butchery: Ryan Farr at Cochon 555" »

December 16, 2009

Lunch: Is Go Go Going?

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It's a testament to my priorities in the world that the first reports that Hideki Matsui was leaving the Yankees for Los Angeles, all went something like this: "What about Go Go Curry?"

The hazard of basing your entire business around a single free agent player is pretty clear. But then, we've all enjoyed the quirks that make this place so interesting. According to reports, there is no plan to close up shop, although a Los Angeles branch may be in the works and the owner maintains his allegiance to Matsui.

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Despite the recent abundance of Katsu in my diet, I decided to stop in yesterday to check out the scene on the ground.

There was no sign of a change in color scheme or Angels gear anywhere. The staff still wore Yankee colors and most importantly, they still give out free toppings coupons on 'Go' days, that is any date with a '5' in it.

Best of all, the Katsu is still wonderful, the curry still think and the new-to-me pork sausage makes for a tasty combination with the other elements of the meal.

December 15, 2009

LA: Metro Rail

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Back when I went to Los Angeles over the summer, I explored the LA Metro a little more. Last time, I was too intimidated by the lack of turnstiles to go very far in for a look. This time, I braved my fare-beating phobia and wandered in further.

As it turns out, payment seems to be optional all up and down the west coast public transit systems. Besides San Francisco, my western explorations this year yielded a bunch of fare cards that were never read, checked or even requested. It's an odd thing. More on that as Transit Week progresses.

As for what I found deep under Hollywood Boulevard, it was curves and arches and vast open spaces. There actually appeared to be people flowing in and out this time, although even with the traffic of a two trains coming in the space is so big that it seems like just a trickle.

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October 10, 2009

LA: Kogi

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I've been putting off my Kogi post (for months!) because there is just so much already written about the phenomenal hype surrounding the truck. You've heard it all before. It's been on the food blogs, the food mags, trend reports on the cutting edge and even on NPR. Yes. Food trucks are awesome. Yes. Many of them use Twitter. Got it. And really, more importantly, yes, Korean and Mexican foods fuse well.

So, here's the short version:
Long line, great food, totally earns the hype.

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I had two tacos, one with spicy pork, the other with short ribs and a pair of sliders. All were topped with shredded kimchi.

In hindsight, given that the beef on the sliders is that same as is in in the taco, I'd have made my second taco chicken or maybe have used it as an excuse to gorge myself on a kogi dog.

Regardless, much like the dinner the other week at Minetta Tavern, I walked away disappointed that the hype for Kogi seems to be entirely earned.

Being so good means that it's actually worth jumping through stupid hoops like standing in line for 45 minutes or having dinner at 5:30pm because you aren't important enough to score a reasonable res. And that annoys me, because really, I'm rarely willing to put up with that crap.

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The good news is that the little secret of the Kogi Truck is that they sell the same menu most nights at Alibi Room in Culver City. I didn't make it there on my last trip, but it's definitely on my short list of places to go next time I'm in Los Angeles.

September 30, 2009

Food Finds: Big League Chew

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Mitsuwa, Torrance, Los Angeles. 2009.

Who knew they still made this? It seems decidedly unwise to sell gum designed to look and chew like chewing tobacco. But there it is, still on the shelves somewhere.

August 30, 2009

LA: Santa Monica Pier

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The pier at Santa Monica sits on the other side of the Pacific Coast Highway from the Downtown area. Walking down the wide wooden pier reminded me of a mini-Coney Island. There are shops, a restaurant and a small amusement park. Buskers danced to Michael Jackson songs and off to the side a dozen people were fishing.

Down below us, on the beach, people played night Volleyball.

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August 13, 2009

LA: Japanese Toilets

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The Mitsuwa in Torrance has Japanese toilets! I wonder if the one in Jersey does. Not that I need one, but it would be pretty fantastic....

August 12, 2009

LA: West 4th/Jane

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In the middle of Santa Monica, West 4th/Jane sits in homage to a transplanted New Yorker's memory of Corner Bistro, a couple thousand miles away. I didn't get to go in, so I can't say how well the burger compares.

Apparently they just opened a couple months ago and got a fair amount of blog attention. Based on at least one site, which refers to it as being inspired by "NYC Gastropubs," it sounds nothing like the original.

Hell, the fact that there seem to be more than 5 things on the menu and a hundred beers available should tell you all you need to know.

West 4th/Jane
1432 4th St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

August 11, 2009

LA: Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs

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While it does seem as though I ate everything while in LA, there was one local delicacy I passed on: The bacon-wrapped hot dog. Oh, I've had hot dogs wrapped in bacon before, I just haven't had any that were 'griddled,' as seen here, on a baking sheet on the street.

As someone who has often celebrated street meat, it's probably dubious for me to draw a line here, but I was skeptical enough to pass it by. All I had heard about the dogs was that the local health department was down on it. I mean, bacon cooking at lowish temperatures in sunny California presents a few obvious concerns to me too.

But apparently there is a long history of these dogs in Mexican lore and particularly in Mexican communities in Los Angeles.

Personally, I've let my cautious side stop me from partaking in these in the past. But seeing the crisp bacon and smelling the aromatic peppers and onions, I was truly tempted. It's only the meal I had just finished that stopped me from finally giving one a try.

August 8, 2009

LA: Traffic

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August 7, 2009

LA: Musha Again

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I've got nothing new to say about Musha that I haven't already said. I had another great meal there the other night.

My only complaint for the evening was that the dishes should have been paced out a little better. Within 15 minutes all of the small plates we ordered were delivered and cluttering the table. It felt a little rushed and diminished the experience a bit. Otherwise, the food was spot on as usual.

Instead of yammering on some more about it, here's some eye-candy:

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August 6, 2009

LA: Pizza Mozza 2 Go

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Following the market trend that has popped up here and there, Mozza has opened up a shop a couple doors down from the Osteria. It's called Pizza Mozza 2 Go. The name is pretty straightforward, but the store is not just a takeout window to the popular pizzeria.

Nancy Silverton stocks the shelves in the front counter area with some of the key ingredients that she uses at the restaurants as well as some gems that she's managed to source on trips to Italy.

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In the back room, customers can wait for their pizza over a glass of wine. The waiting area looks awfully familiar to the New Yorker's eye, with marble-topped tables that look to be the same as those used in the large bar area at the front of Otto.

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And really, because I can't stop raving about Mozza, this is what I had for dinner that night. The housemade fennel sausage was fragrant and wonderful.

LA: How To Hail A Taxi

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Apparently, Angelenos require instructions for this very complicated task.

Update: LAist linked to this image the other day. Since holding out your arm is so difficult, texting may be the answer...

August 5, 2009

LA: Fraiche

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Last Monday, after we finished our main setup, we returned to Culver City to eat at Fraiche, a block away from Ford's. The food is primarily country cuisine from France and Italy, serving rustic meals in what under other circumstances could have been a romantic dinner. If I ever manage to come out here away from work and with Tammi, I would love to take her there.

Above is the Oxtail parpadelle I had. Oxtail is great for this sort of preparation. The meat shreds into pieces that fit just right on the fork with the pasta. The sauce was a puddle of broth that moistened every bite and hung along the face of the rough-textured mustard greens. The sweet meatiness balanced out the greens' typical harsh bitterness.

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To start, I had an order of Tete de Veau, which is a fancy way of saying head cheese, which is really just a euphemism for 'cow face and jelly.' It's the jelly bit that usually gives me a little trouble. Sometimes it's just a little too much texturally and lacks much in the way of flavor. It can just get in the way of the meat that I'm actually looking to eat. But when it's done right, there isn't too much gelatin and what there is of it, melts into a concentrated beef juice.

This was like that. The meat was firm and hammy and in thick chunks that fit well on the slices of bread.

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The meal was great and the space was nicely put together. We sat outside in the dining section of the patio. Right across from us was the bar's patio, which featured high tables and stools as well as a couple couches. I could totally imagine sitting out there, lingering for hours with friends after a meal.

Fraiche
9411 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
310.839.6800

LA: Poolside

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Really, after a long day on site, there's little more relaxing that hanging out by the pool. I never actually went in, but just sitting along the side, having a drink and feeling the evening breeze is one of the most relaxing things in the world.

August 4, 2009

LA: Hannibal

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I love it when a plan comes together.

August 3, 2009

LA: Homeward Bound

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Heading home tonight. Back in a bit.

August 1, 2009

LA Observations: An Industry Town

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Even the parking lots in LA reference the movie industry.

July 30, 2009

LA Observations: Preserved Cars

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I can't take credit for this observation. Honestly, I'd never noticed it until my colleague pointed it out: Cars seem to last longer here. Everywhere you go there are older cars. And not necessarily classic, iconic cars, but also entirely forgettable beaters like Hondas from the mid-80s.

According to my travel companion, this is related to the climate. In the Northeast, we've got moisture all year round, whether in the humid, stormy summers like this one, the rainy springs and falls or the snowy winters. It's a desert out here. In my experience, it really doesn't rain in Southern California. Presumably this means less water and rust damage.

The longer I'm here, the more I start to notice the random mixture of cars on the road. I suppose the fact that cars last longer makes it more affordable to live in a town where you have to have one.

July 29, 2009

LA: Ford's Filling Station

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When I told my travel companion that he might not make the reservation I made for Ford's Filling Station, he insisted that we would just have to go again later in the week. He -had- to go back to Ford's. I managed to move the reservation back a couple hours and we had a late dinner that night.

Like a lot of restaurants these days, Ford's menu is based on the notion of working with local, seasonal, quality ingredients. The restaurant is said to be the pioneer of both this philosophy of cooking and of the downtown Culver City area. Apparently, the area was fairly desolate until some investment in a local theater revived it. In a recent interview with LAist, Chef Ben Ford talked about how perceptions of the area have changed as well as his preference of sourcing food from the farmers market.

The food really shows the care that goes in it. My main dish, the Jidori chicken had a wonderfully crispy skin with remarkably juicy meat. The mashed potatoes and succotash on the side completed a great comfort food combination. I ordered a side of Mac n Cheese too, which looked fantastic, but after this and our starter, I couldn't eat another bite.

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We began with a long strip of flatbread topped with jamon serrano, cheese and caramelized veggies.

My only complaint about the entire meal was the order of Pork Rillettes. I found the grind to be too fine, leaving a pasty texture that didn't really work for me.

Overall, one disappointment out of the whole meal was perfectly acceptable. The meal definitely reinforce that Ford's is a place ot return to again and again.

Ford's Filling Station

9531 Culver Blvd. Culver City, CA
310.202.1470

July 28, 2009

LA Observations: Power Lines

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Most power and phone lines in New York have been underground for well over a decade. So long that I tend to forget that the entire world hasn't done the same. In LA, these towers are everywhere, cutting through the landscape for miles.

LA Recs: The Tower of Justice Returns

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Stephen, a.k.a. The Tower of Justice is a long-time friend of the blog. Last year he offered tips on where and what to eat in San Francisco and he has advised on LA Eats in the past as well. Below is an extended and updated list of recommendations. Note the liberal use of the term 'bomb-ass.' That's how you know it's real.

Here are a few options to consider:

Downtown

Near the Staples Center is Philippe's, which as you may recall is the birthplace of the au jus roast beef sandwich.  They don't serve it with au jus in a dipping bowl, but instead ask you how many dips you want--one, two, or three.  Get it with two, which provides you with enough juice to give the meat some flavor but not too much so that the french roll loses its integrity.  They also serve 10 cent coffee.  It isn't transcendent but it's novel.  At each table, you'll find spicy ass mustard or horseradish sauce (I can't remember), which is bomb-ass.

In Chinatown, which is about 10 minutes northeast of downtown, you'll find Empress Pavilion which has some great dim sum.

In Koreatown, which is about 10 minutes west of downtown, you'll find all sorts of good eats.  My favorite is Beverly Soon Tofu on the northwest corner of Olympic and Vermont.  It's a spicy tofu soup made with all sorts of good meat/seafood combinations.  The bowl is a mini-cauldron that is bubbling when it is brought to your table at which point the waitress drops a raw egg into the bowl so that it can add another layer of flavor.  If you go, order the pork/seafood combination broth and ask for it "regular" spicy.  ("Spicy" spicy is really too hot, to the point where it begins detracting from the meal.)

There is also a Kyo-Chon chicken joint in K-town.  I've been to Bon-Chon, which also recently opened a store in LA k-town, and I still prefer Kyo-Chon.

Two other places to think about.  One is Honey Pig, which is a korean bacon joint.  They have giant pans in the shape of an inverted cone placed over a gas grill.  The inverted shape allows the bacon grease to burn off and collect in a pool at the bottom.  They serve the bacon with all sorts of kim chee, all of which you can wrap either in some leafy green or a rice wrap slathered in sesame oil.  Be sure to save some of whatever meat you're eating because the wait staff will come and make fried rice at the table with the leftovers.

Another place to try is Park's BBQ, which is on Vermont, just north of Olympic (and around the corner from Beverly Soon Tofu).  I've never been to Park's but the word on the street is that this place has the best beef bbq in K-town.  I think they even offer kobe beef short ribs.  Yikes.

Mid-Wilshire

One place in the mid-wilshire area you may consider is Umami Burger.  I have a pic of my burger in my mobile uploads folder on FB.  It's more novel than profound.  My umami burger had a patty, shiitake mushrooms, and a parmesan crisp.  My sister had the green chile burger which was better, I thought.  I hear good things about the triple pork burger.  

Another place you might try is Loteria, which is at the Farmers market at the Grove shopping center.  Loteria serves up some bomb ass chilequiles.  The head chef there is often featured on KCRW's "Good Food" podcast.  

Westside
I noted Musha on your list.  Everything there is good, but here are a few things you MUST try:
Kakuni (slow-cooked pork belly)
Saba: this mackeral, which not everyone loves because of its extremely fishy taste.  I recommend this if for no other reason than to experience having the wait sear your fish at the table with a blow torch.
MFC: Musha-Fried Chicken.  Enough said.
Vongore Udon: this dish is a relatively dry udon dish with clams and mushrooms. Savory goodness.
Spicy Tuna-Dip: they mix up some sashimi grade tuna with some spicy sauce, and serve rice cakes on the side.  

Some other good items include the risotto, which they serve tableside in a big block of parmesan cheese; somen noodles, which are really clean-tasting; an omelette with octopus and soba noodles (I can't remember the Japanese name).

Another place in Santa Monica is Bay Cities Italian Deli.  Their "Godmother" sandwich with spicy peppers is legitimate.  

If you get a chance to swing through Westwood, I also recommend your swinging through Stan's Donuts.  They have peanut butter and chocolate and peanut butter and banana donuts, both of which are great.  I usually go with the banana donut because it has real bananas.

A day ago, ToJ added one more suggestion to this list of wonders,

"Check out Daikokuya in Little Tokyo. Bomb ass pork ramen. The broth is milky white from pork parts having been cooked in it for days."

Bomb. Ass. For real.

July 27, 2009

LA Recs 2: Laura's Finds

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This is Laura. She moved out to LA last year to go to grad school. From pretty much the minute she landed, I've been hitting her up to go eat at places I read about. As she was procrastinating during finals, she put together an extensive list of places she likes or has heard good things about. Here are the highlights:

La Brea Bakery La Brea and 7th St - Los Angeles REALLY delicious sweet breads, seating outside and a few tables only at that but great if you want to grab a cup of coffee and a scone or muffin or breadstick. $-$$ (for pastries...)

Campanile
La Brea and 7th St.
Same owners as La Brea Bakery
Good brunch on the weekends. Fancy place that is kid friendly. Website says brunch times during the week as well but when I went at 11:30 on a Friday they gave us lunch menu only. But that's ok because the mushroom and truffle omelet was still on there and it was YUM!
$$

Phillip's BBQ
Crenshaw just south of I-10
I haven't been here personally but I have seen the trough of meat (pork ribs, beef tip, chicken, you name it-they BBQ it) that my friends have ordered and it smelled good! You order in pounds of meat...and if they run out of corn bread then they just give you a whole loaf of Wonder Bread...mmm
$$

fraiche
9411 culver blvd
culver city ca 90232
310.839.6800
Really good specials and seafood! And wine. Kind of a fancy place, totally delicious!
$$$

Taco truck by the Ralph's parking lot
Glendale Blvd and Alvarado (just off the 101 N Alvarado exit)
Need I say more...great taco truck with like 5-6 salsas to lather on the yummy meat!
$

Chano's Tacos
Figueroa - North of Adams (East side of Fig)
Just a must eat when near USC...took me WAY too long to try this place out! Good carne asada burritos. Nachos are cheap kind w cheddar melted on top and bottom layers don't get any cheese but other than that they have great food!
$

http://www.wingstop.com/
Crenshaw north of The Cobbler Lady on the West side of the street
Just yummy wings in like 7 flavors with at least 3 dipping sauces at a cheap price, w seasoned fries and a drink you can't miss. 10pcs (2 flavors), w fries, and a drink for under $10. Eat in or take-out. One of the few places open after 10pm in my 'hood!
$

Mexican place down the block from Lyric Café
Great drinks and food is delicious! Pricing comparable to NY prices and gives a generous helping of food.
$$

July 26, 2009

LA Observations: Parking

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Besides all the smog and traffic, one of the effects of the car culture out here is the amount of space taken up by parking lots.

I'd never really thought about it, but those cars have to go -somewhere- when people aren't in them. And those places take up a ridiculous amount of space.

Being from New York, the idea of wasting all that space on empty cars is unfathomable to me.

July 25, 2009

LA: Food Recs, Part One

This year, I asked 'the network' (read: Facebook) for some recommendations as well as a couple well placed experts on the ground. The results could fill a month of eating even with an open schedule, so I don't know how much of it I'll be able to actually make, but I intend to try my best to put a dent in the list.

In addition, I plan to make visits to some old favorites, like Musha, Pizzeria Mozza and tonight, when my colleague with the car comes, it's Ford's Filling Station in Culver City.

I was going to collect all the recommendations in one post, but looking at them now, I'm realizing exactly how intense this list is. Let's start with some of the highlights:

First and foremost, the Kogi BBQ Truck, which has lit the blogotubes on fire with praise received forceful recs from no less than four of my friends. I was already hoping to make it out there, but a little dubious about all the hype. I still am, but really, Korean barbecue tacos are too brilliant to pass up.

Beyond that, recommendations varied from Ethiopian at Merkato on Fairfax to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

I got a nice music recommendation from Joshu, who worked in the college radio station with me back in the day, "It's been a while, but last time I was there, Catalina Jazz Club was putting it down with the music and food. Goes without saying that you need to eat some of the divey Mexican that Californians on the East Coast bitch relentlessly about missing."

Along those lines, Harriet, who lives in LA chimed in about the "Great Mexican food ... at Loteria in the Farmers Market at the Grove (a stand) or at their new restaurant in Hollywood."

I've been to both in past years and would definitely go back. She continued, "For dinner, try Susan Feniger's The Street on Highland near Mozza. My favorite restaurant is Rustic Canyon in Santa Monica."

I like Santa Monica because it's the only area of LA I've seen that's remotely walkable, but with one or two exceptions, I haven't been blown away by the food. So, I definitely want to give this a try.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting more recommendations from a couple locals. Stay tuned.

LA: On the Road Again

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Last weekend's trip to DC was the start of travel season for me. I just arrived in LA an hour or so ago. This afternoon I'm getting settled in at the hotel and unwinding before the work begins.

I'll, of course, be doing my best to sample the good food around town as time allows. I'll be posting here throughtout the trip, but if you just. Can't. Wait. I have joined the Twitternets and you can find my up to the minute, possibly drunken impressions of every bite of food I take on my feed. Enjoy!

July 9, 2009

Butchery: The Times Catches On The Rock Star Trend

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I have to say it was pretty gratifying to see The Paper of Record chime in on the Butchery theme I've been going on about.

Most of the New York scene mentioned in the story were things I've been following and planning on posting about, but it was interesting to read about what's going on in San Francisco in particular. I'll have to make a point of seeking out such things the next time I'm in the area.

I'm also interested in reading Julie Powell's upcoming book about her time at Fleisher's, the Meat Mecca of the east. And I may finally have to finish reading Heat just so I can read more about Dario Cecchini, who I've mentioned here before.

In any case, if you have any interest in all this meat talk, the story is worth the read just for tips on others doing this butchery thing. Enjoy!

May 26, 2009

Bad News from Cali

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Though it was predictable, it was still disappointing to hear that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. It's a sad day when Iowa has a more progressive policy than New York and California, but I guess we take our good news where can these days...

March 2, 2009

SF: The Food Court

Out The Door at the Smithfield Mall's Food Court

I have to say, I was concerned when the words Food Court came up as a suggestion for dinner. I was in SOMA with a couple former colleagues and a few friends from high school who have since become SF expats. I had declined to make any suggestions, in the hopes that the locals among us would come up with some awesome place I had never heard of.

Turns out they did.

The Food Court at Westfield Mall on Market Street is the antithesis of everything those two words have meant together before.

As a part of a high-end revamp of this mall, which included adding "the largest Bloomingdale's west of Manhattan" as the flagship tenant, the basement level was filled with the best fast food I've ever seen. Offerings include a Tri-tip steak shop, Korean Barbecue, a gelateria and an outpost of The Slanted Door, the incredible Asian restaurant in the Ferry building. Called "Out the Door," the space reminds me most of Republic in New York. It's much more casual and inexpensive than the original.

I wasn't in SF long enough after to properly survey the rest of the food, beyond a nicely done burger at Bistro Burger, but I know where I'll be going between sessions the next time I'm tethered to Moscone for a week.

Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St.
(415) 512 6776

February 20, 2009

SF: Yoshi's SF

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I went to Yoshi's for the first time last year for my birthday, hours after we got into San Francisco from Atlanta. We had an incredible meal there and then saw Ahmad Jamal perform live there in the attached Jazz club. At the time, the had opened fairly recently in as an attempt to revitalize the historic music district on the Fillmore.

Despite great food and the big Jazz line-up they seem to pull in, apparently it's not making a lot of money. Eater SF has reported more than a few times on it's empty dining rooms, 'deathwatch' specials and government subsidies (as part of the revitalization plan). I, for one, have managed to stop in at least once on each of my 3 visits to San Francisco in the last year. I don't know when I'll be there next, but I hope it's still up and running when I do.

February 11, 2009

Souvenirs: Sam Flores

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In the Haight, I found a shop called Upper Playground that specializes in Street Art-influenced clothing. I picked up the shirt here, designed by Sam Flores, a local artist. I also bought a T-shirt with his version of the Morton Salt Girl and both of his books published by the gallery associated with Upper Playground.

SF: Magnolia Snacks

Duck Wings at Magnolia

At the end of my Lazy Saturday in SF, before heading to the airport, Will and I grabbed dinner in the Upper Haight at Magnolia a brew/gastropub. I had stopped in once before with TOJ and Guyvera, but didn't eat. This time, we passed through relatively quickly, so I don't have extensive notes, but I had to point out to of the small plates I tried while there.

The idea of honey coated duck wings still fascinates me. Of all the things I see done with duck these days, the wings seem the most neglected. I've been thinking of ways to cook duck and home and this has certainly pushed me forward.

The other, below, is the quail scotch egg, which includes two food items that capture my imagination whenever I hear about them: The quail egg and the scotch egg.

Whenever I see quail eggs in an asian supermarket, I start to think of things that would be cool to try with them. The tiny eggs always seem like a great way to do . . . something, but I never really think of what.

I think of the scotch egg like many consider the turducken: blissfully excessive. A boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then breaded and deep fried. What's there not to love?

Usually, it's just about everything. The fried breading isn't particularly crisp, the yolks are overdone and everything in between is pretty mediocre.

In this case, the yolks were fine, the breading was good, but the sausage, a homemade Italian, was not quite what I wanted here. All of it was good on it's own, but didn't quite come together the way I wanted it to...

Scotch Quail Eggs at Magnolia

What was great was the beer, including the Bluebird Bitter, mentioned in the '100 things to eat' list I mentioned last week.

Really, Magnolia demands multiple visits, which I just haven't been able to dedicate in my few visits. I don't know when my next visit to SF will be, but this I hope to pencil in some quality time at Magnolia to really taste what they have to offer.

February 5, 2009

Photo of the Day: BART Corridor

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Powell Street Station, BART, San Francisco. 2009

SF: 100 Things to Try Before You Die

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The TOJ, forwarded this link to Guy and me yesterday. It's 7x7 Magazine's list of 100 SF things to try before you die.

It's a pretty impressive list. I've got 11 down:

3. Carnitas taco at La Taqueria

14. Beef brisket at Memphis Minnie's

15. Oysters on the half shell at Swan Oyster Depot

21. Pizza margherita at Pizzeria Delfina

23. Beer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled onions at Rosamunde Sausage
Grill

24. Blue Bell Bitter from the cask at Magnolia Pub, above.

29. Spaetzle at Suppenküche

35. Salted-caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (well a taste)

40. Cheeseburger at Taylor's Automatic Refresher

48. Angels on horseback at Anchor & Hope

51. Maccaronara with ricotta salata at A16


Additionally, I've been to, but not tried the recommended dishes at:
The Slanted Door
Out the Door
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Bob's Donuts
Little Star

January 22, 2009

SF: Bar Bambino

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I first checked out Bar Bambino over the summer when I had an afternoon to hang out on my own. I visited again on my lazy Saturday and enjoyed the panini sandwich above. It was made with a house-made Italian sausage, a sweet and spicy pepper relish and provolone cheese. The sausage had an interesting flavor to it that reminded me of Chinese five spice, so cinnamon among other seasonings.

On my first visit, I had more of a chance to sit and linger over more snacks, including a meat plate and the awesome bowl of meatballs below. When I get home, I want to get my meat grinder up and running again and try out my own version of San Francisco's 'Meatball Mondays.'

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I didn't sit inside either visit, but I found the vibe there to be great for wiling away an afternoon over wine and tasty snacks. Bar Bambino is definitely a place I'll return to.


Bar Bambino
2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Between Mission and South Van Ness
415.701.VINO (8466)

January 20, 2009

Photo of the Day: History

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Today's the big day.

January 16, 2009

Photo of the Day: Reverence


IMG_7404, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.
Kind mit Pudein (Baby With Poodles)
Katharina Fritsch
SFMOMA, San Francisco. 2009.

January 12, 2009

SF: Chilaquiles

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As mentioned, I altered my usual Saturday in San Francisco routine this time around. But I still made it out to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building that I love so much. In fact, I managed to get there before the hordes that usually run me off.

Instead of my usual Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., I had a plate of Chilaquiles at the recommendation of the TOJ, whose guidance has been a great help in the past. He messaged me as soon as he found out I was going there.

The exchange went something like this:

Clay is up earlier than he should, but is going to get up and go to the farmer's market.

ToJ at 10:59am January 10
be sure to get the chiliquiles at primavera and a cappucino at blue bottle!

Clay at 11:02am January 10
TOJ, I heard the chilaquiles at Mijita is pretty good too. Any opinion?

ToJ at 11:03am January 10
Mijita is good, but if primavera has the red (rather than the green) sauce, go with primavera. Out. Of. Control.

Out of Control indeed.

Here's an overview of what we have here: Scrambled eggs, topped with the aforementioned red salsa, black refried beans with crumbly Mexican cheese on top, and salsa crusted tortilla chips with crema fresca and avocado chunks. It's really an amazing thing.

When I was in San Francisco with Guy, he had an order of Chilaquiles and commented on how amazingly light it seemed despite the contents. I declared that the lightness is an illusion created by the fluffy eggs, the cool crema and the light texture of the avocado. In reality, it's a pretty heavy meal, as demonstrated by the nap I took immediately after returning to my room.

0 Bags Free!

0 Bags Free!

You have to love the airline industry's ability to try to put a positive spin on their money-grubbing ways.

Apparently Delta has given up on the 'higher ground' of not charging for all checked luggage. But they still want you to know that some options are free - like not checking a bag at all.

What's hilarious is the implication that if they wanted to, they could apply a fee for not checking bags. It reminds me of a recent Onion article about American Airlines charging non-passengers a fee for not flying with them.

Who's to say they aren't already thinking up a way to do either.

January 11, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: The Exchange

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Across from 111 Minna, San Francisco. 2009.

No Warm Welcome

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This isn't exactly what I found when I got home this morning, but it might as well be. While I was enjoying my great San Francisco day, walking around without a coat and sitting outside drinking wine, the Northeast got a dumping of snow and ice.

I guess it's just as well that I get used to winter weather now. In a week I'll be off to Aspen, where I'll be padding up in my thermals every day.

SF: Lazy Saturday

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My last day in San Francisco is usually a challenge for me. Every time there are dozens of things I would like to do, but only a couple hours left before I have to head to the airport. I run this way and that trying to eek out every last moment out of the trip and finally end up tense and tired wishing I had more time.

This time, with a full day until my late night flight, I actually took it easy and managed to have a great, leisurely day while still making it to the Farmers market, The Mission and The Haight. The weather was gorgeous all day, with temperatures in the mid-60's, vastly better than 30 degrees and snowing at home. I sat outside and drank wine while reading about photography at Bar Bambino, above and had a few more good meals before heading to the airport.

I'm at the airport now, waiting to board my flight and hoping against hope that the warm weather comes with me.

January 9, 2009

SF: Anchor & Hope

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Wednesday night, Will and I went to Anchor & Hope in the Financial District. The huge barn-like space is set up to vaguely resemble a New England seafood shack with west coast sensibilities. Tammi and I went there when we were in San Francisco in June and had a fabulous meal, so I wasn't surprised to have had such a great meal there again.

Everything we had was wonderful, starting with the oysters, which we sucked down far too fast for me to take a photo of.

I managed a moment of self-control for the Angels on Horseback:

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These bacon-wrapped oysters presented contrasting and complementary textures and flavors. The soft, collapsing texture of the oysters paired perfectly. With each bite, the bacon shattered into a million pieces of smokey salty magnificence, only to reveal the softly textured oyster, also salty but with flavors of the sea.

The rest of the meal after the jump...

Continue reading "SF: Anchor & Hope" »

SF: 111 Minna

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The other night, we checked out 111 Minna, an art gallery and bar a couple blocks away from the convention center. It's an awesome concept that I would love to find in New York. I always mean to go to more art galleries, particularly the openings of graffiti artists I've been following, but somehow never manage to go. Worse, a gallery has opened up in Bed-Stuy, mere blocks from my house that I have yet to walk into much less photograph.

In any case, 111 Minna is a gallery by day and a bar/club on the weekends and some nights during the week. I went on Wednesday night for a DJ night they have on Wednesdays and got a look at some of the pieces going up for an exhibition that opened last night.

See the photos of the work here.

Graffiti of the Day: Granted


IMG_1603, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Lower Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

January 8, 2009

SF: Frontera Fresco

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Last year, Rick Bayless opened a "Wolfgang Puck"-style high end fast food outlet in the food court of the Macy's Union Square here in San Francisco. When I heard about it, I was very excited. I had a great meal at Frontera Grill in Chicago a few years back and Bayless' cookbooks and TV show are great. I really love the depth he gives to Mexican food, which is so often done poorly.

As I mentioned in my Bayless sighting post last year, it was at Frontera Grill that I first had Queso Fundido. I love it. It's molten, fondue-like chihuahua cheese that can be used as a dip or a topping or eaten straight.

That's what I was hoping for when I saw the Queso Fundido Huarache as one of the items available at Frontera Fresco.

This is what I got:

IMG_6644 - Version 3

The huarache is a flatbread topped with the melted cheese, a black bean paste and chicken chorizo (!). Also on the hurache were a mixture of lettuce and baby spinach and a crumbly feta cheese.

I wasn't so impressed, which was a disappointment.

First, I have to say that I'm opposed to the idea of chicken chorizo more than I was offended by the taste. It was fine. It had the right seasoning, but it was chicken and tasted like it. Chicken sausages have their place, but this isn't one of them. Also, the flatbread was also a little to starchy.

I think my expectations were higher than they should have been given that it was Bayless' entry into a market that really knows Mexican food. I respect the menu for offering food that you aren't going to find at Taco Bell or even Chipotle. There aren't many fast food places where I can get huaraches - in New York. In San Francisco, on the other hand, there's a lot more Mexican food, and it's probably better than this.

Graffiti of the Day: Down Bird


IMG_2893, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Hayes Valley, San Francisco. 2008.

January 7, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: Throttle


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Amoeba Parking Lot. Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

January 6, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: The Right Idea


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The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

January 5, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: Nature


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Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

"The same wind that uproots trees, makes grass shine."

January 4, 2009

San Francisco Bound Once More

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All of two weeks ago, I discovered that I was returning to San Francisco for work. I'm heading out today and as usual, looking forward to a week out west.

Of course, I've already started thinking about which restaurants I want to hit while I'm there. While I'll clearly be partaking in many tacos, the trend this time around skews heavily Italian.

I've already mentioned A16 in the Marina area.

Additionally, I've heard a lot about Chris Cosentino, who evangelizes for Offal on his blog, Offal Good. He's the chef at Incanto and runs Boccalone, a salumeria in the Ferry Building.

In the Mission, there's Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina on the 18th Street corridor and Bar Bambino, a wine bar on 16th with tasty meatballs and other antipasti.

There's also Little Star Pizza on Valencia, where I shared the deep dish pizza above.

September 20, 2008

Return to Musha


IMG_9923, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Here's a bit of awesomeness I've been saving from the Los Angeles trip: Scallops, seared by blowtorch at Musha in Torrance. After rereading last year's post on the Musha branches, I have nothing new to add except this: Yum!

Above is a shot of the seared scallops cooked tableside by blowtorch (awesome!).

Below is a shot from the bar at Musha Santa Monica. (Plug: It was posted here on Eater LA)

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September 17, 2008

Photo of the Day: Okay


IMG_1276, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco. 2008

September 15, 2008

Photo of the Day: Superman


IMG_2778, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Moto X World Championships, San Diego, California. 2008

September 12, 2008

SF: Rosamunde Sausage Grill


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Though Toronado doesn't serve food, every table has a menu on it and empty serving baskets pile up at the end of the bar. The popular choice of snack at the bar are the sausages at Rosamunde, right next door.

I had the beer sausage, which was fantastic, but I could have tried out everything on the menu. It all looked so good. I'm glad I made it out at least once this trip.

Continue reading "SF: Rosamunde Sausage Grill" »

Photo of the Day: Chicken Heads


IMG_3162, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco. 2008

September 10, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Valmar


Valmar Panorama2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Outer Mission (?), San Francisco. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Heirloom


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Ferry Building Farmers Market, San Francisco. 2008.

September 9, 2008

SF: Muni Passport


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I've raved about various parts about San Francisco and how I wish I had certain aspects of the Bay Area readily available where I live. Eventually I was bound to run into a few things that didn't make any sense. And here it is. The most ass-backward thing I saw while in SF was the Muni Passport.

It's a 3 day pass that allows the bearer to get on the buses, street cars and trolleys around the city. It's obviously something that you'd want to carry around. But it's huge. Instead of being a wallet sized swipe or proxy card, like everywhere else in the world, this pass looks more like a lottery scratch ticket that should be tossed out after losing your money than something you would put in your wallet. In fact, there's no way this thing would fit in anyone's wallet. I've put it next to a standard sized Metrocard here for scale. It's very silly.

Graffiti of the Day: Ghost


IMG_2833, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

Photo of the Day: The Phantom DJ of the West


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Skylark Lounge. The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

September 8, 2008

SF: Zeitgeist


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I read mention of Zeitgeist several times on the interweb while I was researching for the trip, but forgot I had been here before until a couple days before I headed out. On a visit a few years back, a friend who lived out there took us there. Being slightly off the beaten path, I never managed to run into it again.

Apparently, it's quite the popular hangout spot, pulling all types of local crowds into its divey environs and its gigantic backyard under the freeway.

On my last night, Guy and I passed through and finally encountered the Tamale Lady, a local legend I read about but never encountered. All was right with the world.

I snapped this shot on my first night, while I wandered the town trying to avoid jetlag by staying up until a decent hour. I was playing with some overexposure, leaving an effect similar to how I was feeling at the time. The photo was also posted on Eater SF while I was out there.

Graffiti of the Day: Daniel-San


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Amoeba Records Parking Lot. Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

SF: Bayless Sighting


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Neither here nor there, I saw Rick Bayless at the Farmers Market last week in San Francisco. I am forever grateful to Bayless for introducing me to Queso Fundido, which I first experienced at a visit to his restaurant in Chicago.

Cheesy wonderfullness in the extreme.

Photo of the Day: Morose


IMG_2195, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Elbo Room. The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

Despite the tone of the photo, the vibe at this bar on a Thursday night was lively and fun. I hung out here for a round as I was waiting to meet up with ToJ to pick Guy up from the airport. I had passed it before but never went in. I'd go back with a group of friends.

September 7, 2008

SF: Posole


IMG_2444, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I only had a taste of Guy's Posole at Los Jarritos in The Misson, but it was wonderful. Hominy kernels and chunks of pork, braised to perfection swam in the spicy, savory tomato broth.

My only hopes is that I can somehow find a place that serves it here in New York - or learn how to make it myself.

La Taqueria Tacos


IMG_3437, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I had my share of tacos while in San Francisco. These are from La Taqueria and there were among the best I had the whole time.

If you look closely, you'll notice that the inner tortilla layers are crisp, having been hard cooked on the griddle. The effect is brilliant, offering both the soft chewiness of the soft shell and the firm crunch of a hard shelled taco.

Seen here are a carnitas taco and a lengua taco, my favorites. My attraction to crispy shredded pork is obvious. I don't think I need to elaborate. Lengua on the other hand is one o those things that people have some trouble with.

I won't deny that my initial attraction to eating tongue was the competitive foodie instinct that leads many of us to eat random ridiculous things to prove our intestinal fortitude (sometimes literally). But beyond that, the texture, which is almost creamy in its tenderness is amazing.

Below is an up close and personal perspective.

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La Taqueria
2889 Mission
415.285.7117

Graffiti of the Day: Chalked up


IMG_2875, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Hayes Valley, San Francisco. 2008.

Photo of the Day: The Fight


IMG_2783 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

I saved the best for last. Guy, ToJ and I were waiting for a seat at Magnolia in the Upper Haight. While we waited, this woman, who was clearly high on something, yelled, threatened, strutted and flailed about. She was screaming til hoarse at this guy who did little more than follow her as she paced and harangued.

We had to feel pretty bad for this guy. During all this, his dog apparently in heat, hopped up on hind legs and repeatedly humped his leg.

Now that's a pretty bad day.

September 6, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Warrior


IMG_2603, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

SF: Toronado


IMG_1579, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I always want to go to Toronado when I go to San Francisco, but its location on Haight near Fillmore, is seemingly the most inconvenient place to get to from Downtown.

Ask any beer fan who has been to the Bay Area and Toronado will be mentioned in the first few breaths. It's a beer bar in a city of bars with great beer selections.

It's got about 40 taps, but numbers aren't the point. A lot of places go around these days cheering about how many taps they have but use half of them up with mass market swill. The selection here is curated. Obviously, there is a wide selection of local craft beers. More importantly, they often stock low production batches that often can't be found anywhere. On my first visit, they had a keg of Siera Nevada's bottle brew of their Pale Ale. I don't think I had ever noticed the difference between the tap and bottle versions of Sierra until then. Additionally, Toronado stocks more European beers than most West Coast bars I've seen.

After the jump, a sampling of the draft list - all I could fit in one shot.

Toronado
547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
415.863.2276

Continue reading "SF: Toronado" »

Photo of the Day: Taco Time


IMG_3519, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

La Taqueria, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008

September 5, 2008

SF: Nachos at Taqueria Cancun


IMG_2412, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This vision of loveliness was served up at Taqueria Cancun. ToJ, Guy and I headed there right after picking Guy up from sfo.

I had never considered getting Nachos at a Taqueria, largely because I only ever associate the dish with the terrible "casual dining" establishments where I tend to encounter them. These were nothing like that.

The immediate shock is the lack of hot orange cheez whiz on top. Instead there was thick, gooey cheese on top. Craziness. The dollops of crema fresca and slices of avocado added cool and soft to the crisp texture of the tortillas.


Graffiti of the Day: Koi


IMG_3343, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008

Artist: CAB

Photo of the Day: Sweep


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The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

September 4, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Thylacine


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Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Twirl


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Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

September 3, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Wingspan


IMG_2923, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Hayes Valley, San Francisco. 2008

Photo of the Day: Into the Light


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Financial District, San Francisco. 2008.

September 2, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Scare Bear


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Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

I came across some great, huge wall sized graffiti all around San Francisco. They were striking to me, coming from New York, where it's harder to find those giant works. I got a bunch of shots of those, particularly with interesting Wildstyle pieces. I'll be posting those eventually, but I thought I'd spend this week posting the smaller, uncommon work: Stencils, Paste-Ups, stickers and so on.

To start off is this cool paste up that I found on my return to Clarion Alley.

Photo of the Day: Practice


IMG_2397, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Taqueria Cancun, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008

Last week, I did a lot of interesting people-watching in San Francisco, which I enjoyed immensely. This week, I'll be posting photos of the people I saw there.
Enjoy!
::c::

San Francisco Photos Posted


IMG_1672, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I'm back from San Francisco and getting settled in back home in Brooklyn. Over the next week or so I'll be posting photos, stories and links about my trip.

In the meantime, I've posted a set on Flickr of SF Photos and as usual, a separate Graffiti set.

::c::

August 28, 2008

SF Dispatch: Atari Graffiti


IMG_1348, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday I saw this piece again for the first time in 6 years. It's a huge wall piece of Atari characters. It's also what I remember as being the first graffiti wall that really caught my interest. Growing up in New York, I've seen graffiti all my life. But seeing this on my first (grown-up) trip to San Francisco, it was the first time I really noticed it.

On all my trips out here since then, I haven't managed to see it again, but this time, I made a point of seeking it out. It's more or less the same as the first time, with some patched up points here. It's a longevity that I generally think of as unusual for graffiti, an aft form that is typically transient. I'm glad it's still there.
::c::

August 19, 2008

Photo of the Day: Over the Edge


IMG_9843 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer X Games 2008. Los Angeles, CA. 2008.


I'll be taking a brief hiatus from the blog. Next week this time I'll be in San Francisco, exploring and such. When I return, expect more SF food, Graffiti and all of that.

See you in a bit.
::c::

August 18, 2008

Photo of the Day: To Get to the Other Side


IMG_7661, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles. 2008

August 12, 2008

LA: Luna Park Fondue


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On my last day in LA, sfter we wrapped up with work, we headed downtown for lunch at Luna Park. I've had some great meals at Luna Park in San Francisco and visited the Los Angeles branch a couple years ago.

I wasn't blown away by my sandwich, a Baked Ham and Cheese. I had hoped for something more interesting, but in the end it was just ham and cheese.

But my starter was a different story. A fantastic spin on bread and cheese, the fondue is simple in concept, but complex in flavor. The thick chunks of bread were seared, presumably aftera dip in olive oil, allowing just enough char to add new texture and flavor.

The goat cheese was thick and velvety and clung to the toast. I can't even begin to tell you what it does with the apples. Awesome.


Luna Park
672 S. La Brea (near Wilshire)
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.934.2110

August 9, 2008

LA Signs: Carson Gardens


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008

Photo of the Day: Teardrops


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Luna Park, Los Angeles. 2008.

(Whoops, didn't realize I already had a POTD today. Consider this a bonus.)

LA Signs: Circus Do-Nuts


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008.

August 8, 2008

LA Signs: Bel-Aire Park


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008

Photo of the Day: Kick


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X Games 14, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA Signs: Louis Burgers


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008.

August 7, 2008

LA Signs: Wilshire


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Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA: Wrap Up


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I've returned from LA right into a busy busy time at work and home. When things calm down a bit, I have a few more things to post about. In the interim, here's the quick run-down of the meals I haven't had a chance to mention:

-Dinner at Ford's Filling Station in Culver City
-Dinners at Musha branches in Santa Monica and Torrance
-Lunch at Luna Park

And finally, above is an evening at Union Cattle in Hermosa Beach, not typically the sort of place I'd end up going to, but it was entertaining. And no, I didn't end up on the mechanical bull.

So, stay tuned, I'll be back in a couple days with more LA dining and SF planning.

LA Signs: Lavanderia


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Los Angeles. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Next


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Summer X Games 2008. Los Angeles. 2008

August 6, 2008

LA Signs: Los Altos


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Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA Signs: Felix Chevrolet


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Near USC, Los Angeles. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Bike Flip


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BMX Street, LA Live, Downtown, Los Angeles. 2008

August 5, 2008

LA Signs: The Hair Shop


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LA Signs: Deco Staples


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Los Angeles. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Empty


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Carson, Los Angeles. 2008

August 4, 2008

LA Signs: Hallmark Cleaners


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Los Angeles, CA. 2008.

LA: Santouka


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The US branch of Santouka, the Kyoto Ramen shop where I had that fabulous pork cheek ramen last year, is located in the 'restaurant row' of the Mitsuwa marketplace
in Torrance. This row, which looks suspiciously like a food court has the best looking mall food I've ever seen. Besides Santouka, other eateries serve curry, tonkatsu, and sushi, among other Japanese foods. There's a branch of Mifune as well, which I've been to in San Francisco a few times. There was also a place called Italian Tomato that serves cakes and spaghetti, which I don't really get.

Like most food courts, the restaurants only offer counter service, with most diners eating in the central seating area. This was interesting to me because the original Santouka is a full service 'sit down' restaurant in Kyoto. It was oddly converse to my visit toLoteria Grill. Whereas the original Loteria is based in a barely covered section of an outdoor farmers market with picnic furniture tossed in for quick eating, the Hollywood branch is much fancier, with a full bar and waitstaff.

Regardless of the setting, the food was just as wonderful. I had to have the pork cheek ramen again. It was fantastic.


IMG_7551, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.
While looking through the Mitsuwa website, it seems there is a branch in Edgewater, New Jersey, apparently with a Santouka. I may finally have a reason to cross the Hudson. More to come...

LA Observations: RV Living

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There are tons of Winnebagos and like vehicles in LA. I don't get it.

LA Signs: Galo


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Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. 2008

Photo of the Day: Walking into the Sunset


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Beverly Hills, Los Angeles. 2008.

Yes, some people do walk out here. Mostly to their cars...

August 3, 2008

LA Signs: Vermont Plaza


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Koreatown, Downtown, Los Angeles. 2008.

LA: Return to Mozza


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Last year I raved about Mozza, part of the west coast outpost of the Batali-Bastianich empire. The other day I took the opportunity of a trip downtown to go back for lunch.

There isn't really much more to say, it's fabulous. The pizza above is the unofficial 'Meat Lovers' pizza, topped with pepperoni, sausage and guanciale. It was intense. I can't say enough about the crust. At times chewy and soft or crisp enough to shatter, it stood up to the weight and flavors of the toppings admirably.

I still haven't made it to Osteria Mozza, the higher end, dinner-only space next door. I've still got a couple more nights here, so maybe I'll figure out a way to get back there.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.297.0101

LA: Donuts!


IMG_9014, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

An interesting thing I've only just discovered about Los Angeles, is that it appears to have avoided infiltration by the Donut cartel. Everywhere we go there's some small doughnut shop selling their wares. If one recalls, I've ranted before about the chain mediocrity and what a revelation _real_ doughnuts can be.They vary wildly in quality, with many selling morsels as stale and tasteless as the mass market competition. Others transcend.

I was more impressed with the custard filled on my second visit than the glazed on my first. Bob's Donuts in San Francisco is one of the greats I've had. On that scale, Randy's is pretty damn good, but thinking about it makes me want Bob's.

LA Observations: Morning Mist


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Nearly every morning I've been here in Los Angeles, I've opened my drapes to this cloudy, gray vista. Each time, I'm surprised and begin to worry that the clothes I've packed weren't warm enough.

And each day, a few hours later, it's 80 degrees, the sun bears down and there isn't a cloud in the sky.

LA Signs: Marvelous


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Koreatown, Los Angeles. 2008.

Summer X Games 2008


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Another year, another X Games. I've posted many photos in a Summer X Games 2008 set. Keep checking for updates.

Photo of the Day: Thrill


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Danny Way. Big Air Finals, X Games 14. Los Angeles. 2008.

August 2, 2008

LA Signs: Carson Plaza


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One of the more interesting things I've noticed in LA is all the crazy signs everywhere. Obviously, large, noticeable signage is necessary in a place where your customers are rarely going to be just walking by. What's surprising is how old a lot of it is.

Most, like this one hearken back to the 50's and 60's, while others display distinct styles from other periods. I'm going to post some of the most striking ones over the next week or so.

Graffiti of the Day: Expectations


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Melrose Avenue off North Highlands, Los Angeles. 2008.

I came across this Banksy piece after getting lunch at Mozza the other day. I was really psyched to see it. I haven't really seen a lot of his work as much as heard about it. The sentiment here is one I'm pretty familiar with.

Random Observations: Hotel Meetings


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There are things you know have to happen somewhere, but never quite expect to run into. . .

Biking LA


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Amazingly, I've seen more than a few people on bicycles here in Los Angeles. Each time I've pondered how unpleasant an experience that must be. I'm not even comfortable riding around Manhattan.

Riding in place where everything is a half hour drive away, boulevards have 8 lanes and no sidewalks and the temperature is invariably in the 80's seems ridiculously dangerous.

Apparently, that's pretty accurate. This morning I glanced at the Wall Street Journal in the hotel lobby and found a piece discussing the difficulties biking Angelenos face. It gets pretty ugly. The most severe hazard seems to be belligerent drivers, which isn't particularly surprising.

Last month, a pissed off driver slammed his brakes ahead of a couple of riders, sending them to the hospital. It's a toss up whether this story is more disturbing because the driver had been in a similar accident a few months earlier or that he's a physician, who knows exactly the type of damage that sort of behavior could lead to.

Predictably, this incident rallied the biking community, but it seems to have also begun a long-needed conversation about sharing the road.

Hopefully it all works out, but I won't be renting a bicycle out here any time soon.


August 1, 2008

Photo of the Day: Gathered


IMG_2711, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Moto X World Championships, San Diego, California. 2008.

July 30, 2008

LA: Loteria Grill Hollywood


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Monday night my colleagues and I had dinner at the new Hollywood branch of Loteria Grill. We had a great time there. The food was excellent, the service was friendly and the space was beautiful.

While my companions went for burritos, I chose tacos so I could sample more varieties of fillings. Obviously, pork was my priority. On the left is the shredded Cochinita Pibil, pork slow cooked in a banana leaf. On the right, Carnitas, roasted and crisp. I loved them both, but that isn't a surprise.

The one disappointment of the meal was the Albondingas taco, not pictured, which I had high hopes for. It was filled with three small beef meatballs in a tomato chipotle sauce.

It sounded awesome, but the meatballs didn't have nearly the chipotle flavor I expected and the meat itself seemed overground and had a slightly pasty texture to it.

I have made similar meatballs before from a cookbook I bought in Mexico last year, but have never had anyone else's, so I was very excited. I'll have to stick to homemade for now.

Regardless of that one small disappointment, I really enjoyed the meal at Loteria.

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There is much I could say about the beautiful space and interesting decor, but the most important note for anyone who may go there is that there is no noticeable sign. One of the folks I met up with there got totally turned around after walking by it a couple times. The only reason I knew what to look for was because I'd seen photos on Eater LA.

Loteria Grill Hollywood
6627 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles
323-465-2500

July 28, 2008

Celebrity Sighting: Brad Dourif


IMG_7726, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I hadn't even gotten out of the airport before seeing my first 'celebrity.' Brad Dourif stood behind me in line for a taxi. Who? Yeh, I didn't know his name either but I imdb-stalked him and found his name and his rather lengthy filmography.

I initially recognized him as having been in the second The Lord of the Rings chapter, but later discovered that his career goes all the way back to playing Billy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. If you were to see him and recognize his face, it would be for his creepy, piercing eyes, but his most well known work is probably as the voice for Chucky in those terrible Child's Play Movies.

I had planned to write this post more tongue-in-cheek, about how ridiculously obscure this guy is, but really I have a lot of respect for character actors like Dourif. These are actors who go in, do their jobs and go home. We don't have to hear about who they're sleeping with or which parties they attend or what their political cause is. Because he's just an actor doing his job.

July 25, 2008

Summer Vacation Decision: SF


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Again, it's not so surprising, given all my pining for the Bay Area that I decided to head back there next month. Last night I booked my ticket.

I'm hoping to finally catch up with friends who live there that I never manage to see during my usual trips. Guyvera will also be joining me and we'll hang out with his people as well. So, we'll be with a bunch of locals who know where to go and what to do.

Next, I need to see if I can find a place to stay with a kitchen, so that I can do something with the goodies I hope to get at some of those farmers markets I love so much.

But first, LA. I fly out Sunday morning. More to come...

July 22, 2008

Return to LA LA Land


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Work will take me out to the City of Angels again next weekend for a little over a week. Clearly, I'm already planning out my meals. Musha and Mozza are already in the plans. Hot dogs at Oki Dogs or maybe Pink's are a must as well.

I've been checking out Eater LA among other sites to hear about what's new and wonderful out there. Last week I discovered that Loteria Grill, whose Farmers Market location I visited in my first time in LA, has opened up a new location a few weeks ago. That's on the list.

Rummaging through my delicious bookmarks, I was reminded that there is apparently a branch of Santouka in Torrance. I'm so hoping they have the pork cheek ramen. I have to have that again.

Last summer I visited Santa Monica beer bar and restaurant Father's Office on my last day. It reminded me of the 'new' Blind Tiger with it's interesting and wide selection of beer and tasty bites.

It's also time to revisit the recommendations the TOJ gave me last year.

More to come...

Photo of the Day: Break Time 2


IMG_6819, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco, CA. 2003.

July 16, 2008

Summer Vacation Options Part 4: SF


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This is pretty self-evident, given all my complaining about how little I got to see San Francisco last month. Guy lived there for a few years and would be into going back for a couple days as well. I think I'd want to stay some place with a kitchen and really take advantage of the farmers market for once. Also, the tacos would be plentiful.

I'd have to make several expeditions into the various graffiti havens and explore some of the neighborhoods I haven't seen. There are also a bunch of college friends who live out there that I didn't have time to see at all last month.

While there, I'd also like to see more of Oakland, I got a few recommendations for places out there to visit last month, but there was no time to go.

July 15, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Boom Box


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The Mission, San Francisco. 2006.

July 3, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Lost City of Letters


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SOMA San Francisco, under the freeway. 2007.
::c::

June 30, 2008

Photo of the Day: Beer Goggle


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Blondie's Bar & No Grill, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

June 22, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Feeding Time


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

June 21, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Going Up


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

June 20, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: A Familiar Face


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

Artist: Swoon

It was nice to see this Swoon out in San Francisco. It's a copy of the same piece that was splashed on Rivington a while back. I haven't seen much in the way of new work from her in a long time. I'll take what I can get.

Since I wrote this, Gothamist posted about her return to the city. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her new stuff.
::c::

June 19, 2008

SF: The Tower has Spoken


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A couple of weeks before heading to San Francisco, I polled Guyvera and The Tower of Justice aka ToJ for some recommendations. As we have discussed foodblogging together in the past, I have no compunction against reposting his email. Enjoy!

SF: The Tower has Spoken

La Taqueria is the gold standard in SF. Be sure to get two carnitas tacos, with cheese and avocado, crispy style. This last request--crispy style--is key because what it means is they overfry the inside tortilla, providing a nice juxtaposition in textures with the softer, outer tortilla.

To be honest, I know less about Taqueria San Jose and Taqueria Cancun, although if memory serves, Taqueria Cancun has a decent burrito. For a GREAT burrito, go to Taqueria San Francisco, which is on 24th (or maybe 25th) about 5 blocks east of Mission St. They have great carnitas burritos.

Beyond tacos, there are a couple of other latin american joints you should try. If you like Pupusas, then Panchitas on 16th and Valencia is solid. This has been my good old reliable spot. More recently, I got hip to El Zocalo which is more towards the Outer Mission, I think on Mission and 30th. Conveniently enough, El Zocalo is within walking distance to Mitchell's Ice Cream, where the Ube (Filipino purple yam) ice cream is a must try. At both pupuserias, I order the pupusa plate with pupusa revueltas (filled with pork, cheese, and beans).

You might also consider Mi Lindo Yucatan, on Valencia and 15th (I think). Guy and I went there one time a long time ago, but they have delightful chicken and pork dishes. If memory serves, they have a black bean chicken and/or pork, and one wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. They also serve fresh tortillas in a little bin instead of tortilla chips which is novel.

Other places to eat in the Mission area (but which are not necessarily within the "Taco" genre or penumbra of foods) include Little Star Pizza. You're a New Yorker, and so you have the right to be skeptical of any claims to fame about pizza elsewhere, but this place is pretty tasty. It blends the Chicago deep dish style with California ingredient consciousness. They use a cornmeal crust which is interesting. I usually like to get sausage, mushroom, and ricotta cheese--they put dollops of ricotta cheese on the pie, which brown during the baking process.

If you have any questions or need recommendations on the fly, feel free and call me.

The Tower has spoken (Konichiwa bitches!)

Graffiti of the Day: Haunted


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

June 18, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Dignity


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

SF Map


View Larger Map

One last San Francisco post (for the moment). Above is the Google Map I put up of places of note that I've been or that were recommended to me. I believe it will update as I add to it over time, but, really I have no idea...

If you've got more recommendations that aren't here, let me know.
::c::

June 17, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Demoncracy


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

SF: Bicycle Observations


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Among the many things that I'm currently swooning about San Francisco over is how bicycle-friendly it seems to be. I'd never have thought it. If there's any place I would naturally avoid bicycling it would be a place with as many steep hills as San Francisco. But given the few things we saw, it seems to cater to the two-wheeled very well.

First there were these signs that Tammi and I saw all around the Financial District, which I can't begin to imagine in Wall Street.

We also came across the most amazing bicycle parking inside the BART station at Mission and 16th. It looked like it could park between 50 and 100 bicycles. To top it off, there's a well along the side of the stairway going into the station designed specifically for riders to roll their bikes down.

June 16, 2008

SF: Hog Island Oyster Co.


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The vendor at the Farmers Market selling the oysters I've been going on and on about are the Hog Island Oyster Company, which has an oyster bar inside the Ferry Building as well.

Graffiti of the Day: Keepin the Faith


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Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.

I love this updated interpretation of the Virgin of Guadalupe, it's a modernization you don't see so often. It almost reminds me of a more sincere "Buddy Christ" from Dogma.

SF: Artist General Update


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A Flickr Contact, We Meant Democracy posted a link to an SF Weekly post with more information on the 'self-appointed' Artist General. The thrash in the commentary thread reminds me why I tend to avoid such forums.

SF: California Dreaming


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Wherever I travel, I consider on some level whether I could live there. I think everyone does to some degree. In some cases, that consideration is as simple as "I hate this place, I could never live there." That's how I feel whenever I head up to the 'burbs in Connecticut. In the case of Paris or London or Tokyo, the question is more wistful. I would love to live there but it's so unlikely and complicated by language and policy that it's more of a dream than anything else.

But San Francisco has a pull for me that's unlike anywhere else. it's different, more realistic, more familiar.
I'm probably just feeling the afterglow from my visit to the Farmers Market this morning. And the bottles of local wine I picked up in the ferry building. Eating and drinking local, sustainable and most importantly quality products doesn't seem to be the luxury it is in New York.

The culture of the area just seems so custom-suited to my interests. I've gone on about the food already, and obviously I'd love to be right in the middle of the biggest craft brewing and wine-growing region in the country. It's also the urban center of the tech industry, which is what has brought me out there for the last several years.

Of course, the ugly is pretty inescapable as well. Junkies camp out on the streets leaving crack and weed smoke wafting through the air. I grew up in New York of the 80's, I have no glamorous visions of such things. It's ugly and dangerous. Nothing good can come of it.

In the end, the chances of me ditching Brooklyn anytime soon are slim. It is my home after all. Even so, as I fly across the country back to New York, I can't help but wish I had more time to get to know San Francisco better.

June 15, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Clarion Alley


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Clarion Alley is the treasure trove I discovered in The Mission the other day. It's between 17th and 18th Streets and goes from Mission to Valencia. I took more than a hundred shots of the pieces up there. A selection of them will be the Graffiti of the Day for the next week. Enjoy! ::c::

SF: The Ferry Building Farmers Market

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IMG_4846, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I have market envy. I love everything about the Ferry Building and its weekend farmers market. I only stumbled on the Farmers Market at the Ferry building on last day of my visit last year, I had no idea what to expect. Again, I passed through it with only a few hours left before my flight home, but this time I knew what I was looking for: Oysters.

It never occurred to me, but it seems obvious out there. Unlike New York, where the market is 99 percent produce with one or two relatively pricey stands selling meats, the sellers are much more varied. Some sell produce, of course, most even, which is great. But you've also got fresh whole chickens with the feet still on, aidell's sausages, locally made cheeses, vendors selling cooked food and of course, Oysters. I had six Sweetwater and one Kumamoto from Hogs Farms. It's amazing to me to be able to walk down to the market on a Saturday morning and slurp down a half dozen oysters while I shop for groceries. Truly amazing.

June 14, 2008

SF: Taco Taco!


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Sadly, these two delightful stacks of meat and salsa crammed onto tortillas were the only tacos I managed to eat this trip. With little time to go for variety, I stuck with more moderate ingredients. I skipped the lengua and cabeza in favor of carne asada and carnitas, both great choices.

I got these at Taqueria San Jose on Mission around 23rd Street. My next stop was to be La Taqueria a block or two up, but they had closed for the evening. Instead I walked down to Taqueria Cancun on Mission and 18th and picked up a Burrito for Tammi and I to split. Tragically, that was the entirety of my Burrito eating in San Francisco. This is very upsetting. I'm trying to figure out when I can get out here next to rectify this situation.

Graffiti of the Day: Postal Panda


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Union Square, San Francisco. 2008.

SF: Wiped Out


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After a week of conference sessions, Tammi and I are beat. It's unfortunate because both of us love San Francisco but we didn't get to see much of it outside of the 'geek bubble.' Next time I've got to get some extra time of before or after the trip so I can hang out more.

We did manage to eat pretty well, so expect a couple posts about that. Also, I managed to get back to the graffiti treasure trove I mentioned yesterday. More on that later too.

For now, I'm off to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to ogle produce that I can't really buy and snack on whatever is available.

June 13, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Prezedunt Ahnuld


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Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

I finally tore myself away from the geekfest bubble for a couple of hours last night and encountered some great graffiti. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to shoot these with my phone. In a couple hours the conference will be all done and I can go shooting. I can't wait to get at this stuff with some decent light and a real camera. I just hope my wide angle can capture it all.


June 12, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Artist General Warning


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Market Street, San Francisco. 2008.

These 'warnings' are posted all around the convention center downtown. On them theArtist General warns about the hazards of conformity and the need for dissent.

June 11, 2008

Birthday Dinner at Yoshi's


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On Sunday, I turned 31. Like my previous birthday, much of it was spent in the air. Last year we spent most of the day flying to Japan, a trip I blogged pretty extensively.

To celebrate the big day, Tammi and I had dinner at Yoshi's on Fillmore. We had a fantastic meal there, possibly the best I've had all year. After days of delicious, heavy southern foods, we both welcomed a lighter fare.

That said, the dish that sticks with me the most was still fried: Unagi Tempura, a whole eel fillet fried in tempura batter. It was a little difficult to handle with my poor chopstick skills, but it was fantastic.

I also had some uni that had an incredibly complex flavor. I love uni. Your mileage may vary, depending on your tolerance for odd textures. I've lovingly compared it to a wad of snot in the past. it doesn't slide down your throat like an oyster, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, lingering long enough to release every bit of flavor it's got. Tammi's not fond of the stuff, but I love it.

As we shared a selection of fish from Tsukiji Fish Market, I realized that it was already Monday in Tokyo, exactly a year since we blindly wandered the aisles at Tsukiji, trying to avoid being hit by the 'careening' turrets.

After dinner we saw Ahmad Jamal and his band perform at Yoshi's Jazz club. It was a great show.
::c::

Graffiti of the Day: Sidem


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SOMA, SF. 2007.

Yes, this is in San Francisco, but not from this trip. I've barely had the camera out all week. It's been busy. Hopefully I'll find some time to do a little hunting near the end of the week.

Also, I have no idea if that says Sidem or something else entirely. I'm terrible at reading wildstyle.

May 26, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Give Me Your Tired...


Give Me Your Tired..., originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

SoMa, San Francisco. 2007.

May 7, 2008

San Diego: Yard House


IMG_3887, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I didn't hear about the Yard House until my last night in San Diego. It's unfortunate, because I didn't have time to linger and sample their huge variety of draft beers they offer. With 100 taps, I'd have needed a few trips just to cover the beers I'd never heard of.

Looking at their website, I discovered that it's actually a pretty large chain with 11 locations in California alone and more in seven other states. That doesn't surprise me given it's "Flashy Generic" decor. The site boasts "Great Food, Classic Rock and The World's Largest Selection of Draft Beer."

Ambiance, it doesn't need, it's got tons of beer.

Yard House
1023 4th Ave. , San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 233-YARD |

May 1, 2008

San Diego: Anti-Scientology Protest


IMG_2970, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

It seems like every time I go to California, I see something related to Scientology, either for or against. This time the anti-cultists were dressed up in costumes and Guy Fawkes masks. I have no idea. Their fliers and placards referenced a site that lists members who have died over the years.

In New York, they have the cult recruiters in the subway here and there, but there isn't nearly so big a following to warrant this sort of protest, as far as I know.

April 30, 2008

MXWC


IMG_2521 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As a part of my 'Action Sports' beat, I was sent out to the first annual Moto-X World Championships. The event wasn't particularly well promoted, so there weren't that many people there. All the same, the tricks seemed pretty good to my entirely untrained eye. I got to see someone else finally manage to pull off a double back flip, which hadn't successfully been done in the States since Travis Pastrana did it at the Summer X Games in 2005.

Much more importantly, I stuffed myself with Fish Tacos and local(ish) beer. More on that to come.

March 4, 2008

Graffiti of the Day: Amanda Lynn Behind Bars


IMG_2697, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Haight, San Francisco. 2008. Artist: Amanda Lynn

February 13, 2008

Photo of the Day: More Feral Copy Editors


More Feral Copy Editors, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco, CA. 2005.
More Copy Editors Gone Wild. ::c::

December 21, 2007

Ornaments: San Francisco Cable Car


IMG_1446.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Purchased in Chinatown, San Francisco. April 2002.
::c::

Photo of the Day: Stormy North Beach


IMG_7009.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

North Beach, San Francisco, CA. 2004.
::c::

December 11, 2007

Back Again

Apologies for the shortage of posts. I've got a ton of Mexico City stories, photos and so on, but haven't had a lot of time to write them up. I'm out in Glendale, California again, very briefly. Hopefully the time away from the usual distractions will give me a chance to get my posting organized again. Expect a fair number of posts coming in the next few days.
::c::

November 16, 2007

Photo of the Day: Flip!


IMG_9109, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer X Games 2007, Los Angeles, CA.

November 14, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: WWFD


WWFD, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Los Angeles, CA. 2007.
::c::

November 7, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: LA Buff Monster


IMG_0282, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Los Angeles, CA. 2007.
Artist: Buff Monster ::c::

October 30, 2007

Photo of the Day: Power Lines


IMG_5834, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Berkeley, CA.
::c::

October 24, 2007

Post Earthquake Internal Meeting Place

Office Building. Glendale, Los Angeles, CA. 2007.

Gee, the things you don't think about when you live on stable ground.
::c::

August 10, 2007

Deja Vu

Due to a glitch in the matrix that is the the corporate world, I'm going back to LA in a week and a half. This trip is much shorter, only a couple days, but I hope to use the time to catch some of the things I missed last week.

I'll be staying in Glendale, which I'm told is a bit more convenient to the places I might want to go.

If anyone has ideas for where I might want to go, let me know.

::c::

August 8, 2007

Pizzeria Mozza

I'm loathe to ever admit that anything is better outside of New York. It's a very difficult thing fo me to do. I love to travel and I think about living elsewhere all the time, but ultimately the deficiencies I may see at home are owing to some larger national or regional issue than anything specific about New York.

So when Eric told me that he thought the pizza at Pizzeria Mozza was better that Otto, owned by the same folks here in New York, I was skeptical and very confused. I've learned to respect Eric's opinion about such things over the 20 years we've known each other. yet here it was, he was claiming that LA, the anti-New York had a better pizza pizza! than a place in the city of our birth.

Unfathomable.

Yet, I headed out there Sunday night after the games were all done and had a meal that I only wish were available back home. And this isn't like going to France where everything is butter and fat (which is to say fat and fat) and finding that everything is better, of course that's better. No, this is head to head, chef to chef, even sharing the same owners and backing and LA topping New York.

Continue reading "Pizzeria Mozza" »

Musha!

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While in LA, I managed to check out both branches of Musha, an excellent izakaya out there. As mentioned earlier, I got recommendations for Musha from two expert sources, Eric and the TOJ. My visits completely reinforced my faith in both of them.

I had the Musha Fried Chicken at both places. It's excellent. A crispy breaded boneless chicken thigh sliced into strips. The presentation reminded me of Tonkatsu, the breaded, fried pork cutlets I had in Japan. The flavor was something else entirely.

According to the Menu, the Musha Fried Chicken is "Marinaded in soy sauce, sake, ginger and garlic served with 2 kinds of grated daikon and a ponzu sauce." The flavor of light citrus permeated, particularly when dipped in the accompanied sauce made up of soy sauce and ponzu. Sweet, salty and tangy all vied for my attention in each bite.

The photo above is Tanshio, salted beef tongue, that I cooked on a Shichirin Griller, yakiniku style. The small charcoal grill was the perfect size to fit on the counter in front of me at the Santa Monica branch.

On my visit to the Torrance branch, I had Unagi, broiled eel sliced into chunks and mixed in with rice in a variation in its typical presentation. There was also Braised Pork Belly, served in a soy sauce based broth and cooked with sweet potatoes. My dining companion had a wonderful Ahi Poke, Hawaiian style tuna tatare.

I was also very interested in Musha's Cheese Risotto, which is served out of a giant block of parmesan cheese. I only skipped it - along with noodles and most rice in order to save room for other dishes.

More after the jump!

Continue reading "Musha!" »

Double Double!


IMG_0280, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I love In n Out Burger. Amazingly, when I first tried it, in San Francisco a few years ago, I wasn't so into it. The one I had was too dry. Thankfully, I tried it again last year when I was back in LA. Then I tried it again. And again. This time around I only got my Double Double fix once, but I take what I can get.

Louisiana Fried Chicken


IMG_0239, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This pile of crispy loveliness was found in the depths of Carson, California, a bit of a hike away from the X Games site in Los Angeles.

It was quite possibly the best fried chicken I've had. The breading was thick and crunchy and full of spices. Underneath the crusty skin, the meat is juicy and flavorful. There was a hint of garlic in there somewhere. The hot sauce is served in a cup for easy dipping, which was perfect. The sauce was tangy with a heat that creeps up on you.

Some folks had brought some back to the trailer for the crew and I was blown away. When I found out that it was just a few blocks away, I headed out there for lunch the next day. Louisiana Fried Chicken is a total hood spot. It's got the bulletproof window at the counter, the whole thing. If it wasn't in a strip mall, I'd have felt like I was back in Brooklyn.

August 5, 2007

I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo


IMG_0225
Originally uploaded by ultraclay!
With Apologies to A Tribe Called Quest, I did lose my cell phone in the hotel, which is actually in El Segundo.

Thankfully someone turned it in to the Lost and Found. There's something to be said for having a phone no one wants to steal. I had just managed to finally get all my numbers synched across all my devices, I'd have been pissed if I had to do that all over again.

I also discovered how to use my own MP3s as ring tones on the SLVR, which I wondered for ages. I found it on the Interweb posted by someone named UVADaniel. I've reposted it after the jump.

Continue reading "I Lost My Cellie in El Segundo" »

August 4, 2007

Centrally located across from the airport


IMG_8904, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Or something like that. My hotel is really pretty good. It's got a steakhouse as its only restaurant, so I really don't have much alternative to eating steak whenever I feel like it. It's tragic. Really.

The only drawback is that it's directly across from the airport. Like, right there. The pic above was taken from my room. And that's not really an issue for the expected reasons. The windows are thick enough that you barely hear the planes at all.

The problem with being near the airport is that there's nothing worth doing near the airport. As good as the restaurant and bar are at the hotel, I'd really like to hang out somewhere else for a bit.

So far, I haven't gotten to see much of LA this time around. With the exception of a fantastic meal at Musha and a couple hours in Santa Monica the first night I haven't gotten out at all. It's making me a little antsy. The biggest problem is that I just don't know this place well enough to be able to get in the car and go somewhere. The fact that I can't drive is a close second, given that getting in the car requires a second person who's up for whatever I feel like.

Typically, by the time we get back to the hotel, I can't even fathom the idea of considering where to go. I don't know where anything is and unlike most travel, there's little in the way of a central area to go wander around. I may make another trip to Santa Monica just for that, really.

August 3, 2007

LA Observations #1

Last night, the shuttle driver and a co-worker were talking about smog in LA. According to the driver, the smog's only in the valley. He said something about the wind from the ocean blowing it away every where else.

He followed that up by talking about how much more smog there is in New York because of the humidity and the concentration of traffic in a much smaller space.

I left it alone, but laughed to myself a few minutes later when we passed through a tunnel getting off a highway:

The walls were black with a thick layer of soot collected from the exhaust fumes of the million cars that had passed through it. The only clean spots were scrapes and graffiti that industrious taggers carved out of the filth.

August 1, 2007

Tips from the TOJ

The Tower of Justice, an eating buddy much more familiar with this land of highways and movie stars than I sent me some recommendations. I'm not sure when I'll be able to go off the reservation and actually check out some of these places, but I have hopes:

It will be hard to find good food without a car if you're staying by the airport, unless you have in mind establishments with pole dancing as their primary attractions. If you can manage a car, here are a few suggestions. Alternatively, if you're on a tight schedule, I would recommend taking a cab up to Santa Monica and just walking around in that area. Lots of good places to eat there.

Musha Restaurant (Santa Monica): I took Guy to this little trendy dive of a restaurant in Santa Monica, and I resisted making bathroom runs for fear that Gallo would swipe any remaining morsels on my plate. This place serves Japanese pub food, and Sapporo beer on tap. Highlights include: braised pork belly, octopus omelette with noodles, musha fried chicken, udon noodles with shimeji mushrooms and clams.

Versailles (Palms/West L.A.): this place serves Cuban food. It's a fun place, and if I recall, they have a couple of killer pork dishes.

Zankou Chicken (West L.A.): this is an Armenian owned joint that serves the BEST rotisserie chicken. It also offers hummus and other middle eastern goodies.

Let me know if you have a more flexible schedule and will have access to a car. The list of great restaurants in LA is endless, so once I know where you're heading, I would be more than happy to give you a more targeted set of recommendations.

Eric suggested the Musha in Torrance last year when I stayed in that area, but I never made it. Maybe that'll be dinner tonight...

July 31, 2007

The City of Angels

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I'm on the road again, back in LA for Summer X Games.
I'm not sure how much of the city I'll be able to get to without a car, but I have my hopes. If nothing else, I should have some photos from the events, once everything starts up.

Stay tuned...

May 30, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: JFK


IMG_0432, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

US Senator, San Francisco 2007.

May 26, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Appa


IMG_0726, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco, 2007

Artist: Appa the Dancing Elephant

May 22, 2007

Photo of the Day: Yerba Buena Reflected


IMG_0290, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Zeum, Yerba Buena Park, San Francisco, 2007.

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May 19, 2007

Photo of the Day: Crabby


IMG_0842, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Dungeness Crab. Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. 2007.

May 15, 2007

Photo of the Day: Iron Giant


IMG_1431, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Embarcadero, San Francisco.


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May 14, 2007

The World According to Clay

the world according to.jpg

Google now offers personalized maps without the geekery previously necessary to put one together. I've wanted to do one since Eric put together a Paris map for his trip there last year.

I've started populating the map with bars I've been to in my travels. At some point, I'll figure out how I want to connect it to the site, in the meantime, click on the screenshot above and take a look.
::c::

Photo of the Day: Big Sista is Watching


IMG_0553, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Back up singer, Blackalicious. Summer X Games 13. Los Angeles, 2006.


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April 25, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Big Brother's watching


IMG_0479, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Obey Giant Sticker, San Francisco. 2007.


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April 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: Donald behind bars


Donald behind bars, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco. 2007.

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April 2, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: The Mac Truck


IMG_8119, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Mac. The Mission, San Francisco, 2006.


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March 31, 2007

Photo of the Day: The Plunge


IMG_8308 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.





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March 23, 2007

SF: Swan Oyster Depot


IMG_1776, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I stopped in at Swan in January when I was in San Francisco for Macworld. I was supposed to be going with some friends, but they weren't going to make it in time. Guyvera insisted that I go without them, just so I could check it out before they closed.

When I got there, there was a small line out the door. It reminded me of Schwartz' in Montreal, which I will post about one of these days. The Depot is a long narrow room with a counter that runs nearly all the way back.

I wasn't blown away by the chowder, which I prefer thicker. What I loved was the crab cocktail, made with big chunks of dungeness crab smothered in a sweet and tangy cocktail sauce. Their horseradish was intensely strong, a great balance to the sweetness.

Swan's is a great little hole in the wall that I definitely want to go back to next time I'm in San Francisco.

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March 22, 2007

SF: Cafe Niebaum-Coppola


IMG_0650, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Peter, the bartender in the rose colored glasses has been there nearly every time I've stopped in over the last 5 years. He's pictured above, barely, as the blur between the waiter and his reflection.


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March 21, 2007

LA: Oki Dog


IMG_7717, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

This place was totally sketchy. It's just a little shack on Fairfax.

I had grabbed some tacos in the Farmer's Market and was walking up towards Hollywood.

I had a Chili-Cheese dog.

The dogs were plump and juicy, much rounder than the narrow sabretts we get everywhere in New York. The cheese wasn't the cheez whiz that you usually get, it was a thick slice of cheese wrapped around the dog. Between the heat of the dog and the chili on top, it had started to melt immediately. The cheese was gooey, but still firm enough to add a little more resistance when bitten into. The thickness added another texture to the experience. The roll was big enough to stand up to the saucy chili without falling to pieces.

So good...

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March 20, 2007

SF: Bob's Donuts

IMG_0727
IMG_0727, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I read about Bob's in the guidebooks, but hadn't really planned on checking it out. It was listed as a good place to grab a sweet snack and some coffee after boozing it up in the Trenderloin. I only shot the photo above for a flickr group, then I walked right by it.

One of the conference after-parties ended up being on the same block and I had an opportunity to check it out as intended - drunk and snacky. It was perfect.

The doughnut was light and fluffy with a slight chewiness that reminded my snacking companion of a zeppole. My glazed wasn't overbearingly sweet like Krispy Kreme. It hit the spot.

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The LA Metro


IMG_7768, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

When I went to Los Angeles last summer, I didn't know what to expect. All I had ever heard was that it's the anti-New York. On the short list of things I just had to see was the LA Metro. The idea of a subway system in this city of drivers intrigued me.

While walking through Hollywood, I walked down to the Metro station at Hollywood and Vine. The station is a lot farther underground than most stations in New York. It's steep escalators and high ceilings reminded me a bit of the DC Metro.

Even though it was early evening, when I'd normally expect a rush in one direction or another, the station was empty. I never saw more than 10 people, even when a train came in.The wide, cavernous space seemed that much bigger without people. Seeing a subway station that big deserted seemed vaguely apocalyptic.

Continue reading "The LA Metro" »

March 15, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Apex


IMG_0415, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

By Apex.
SoMa, down by the CalTrain Depot, San Francisco


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March 12, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Jimi on The Haight


Haight, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Haight Street, San Francisco, 2003.

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February 27, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Cyclops


IMG_0397, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I found this in an alley in San Francisco recommended in the San Francisco Graffiti group on Flickr.

February 24, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Camputee Press


IMG_0542, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Graffiti is one of my favorite photo subjects. I feel as though that's been neglected in the blog so far.
To rectify that, I'm introducing a new Graffiti of the Day feature. Now, I don't get into the Graffiti vs Street Art debate. It's all Graffiti to me whether it's spray paint on a wall, paint on wood tiles, pasted paper or metalwork.
I'll try to add as much about the piece featured as I can recall.
This shot was taken in the SOMA area of San Francisco earlier this year. It's by The Mac.
::c::

Continue reading "Graffiti of the Day: Camputee Press" »

January 7, 2007

SF: Rogue Public House

This post is backdated to back when I was in San Francisco in early January.

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When I found out that Rogue had a pub, I knew I had to go check it out.

The pub is in a corner of North Beach a few blocks away from the bigger tourist attractions of Beat bookshops and Italian restaurants. The space is pretty big, with a smaller second room used for game nights and parties. The vibe was very laidback, I didn't run into any hardcore beer geeks eager to sneer at anyone's beer choice. Despite being owned by an out of town brewery, the place had a decided neighborhood feel. In fact, while I was there, I ran into a former co-worker who had just moved to San Francisco. He and his roommate had been getting settled in and decided to go to the local for a round or two.

I sat at the bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon, while everyone else watched the game, I delved into the tome that listed all the Rogue Ales available. They have 44 taps, pouring mostly Rogue ales, but also nearly a dozen guest brews. I stuck with the Rogues myself, but I appreciated the option.

The beer I tasted after the jump...

Continue reading "SF: Rogue Public House" »


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