Monday, July 20, 2009

Sushi?


MDK-20090719-0050, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

After years of threats, we finally took Big Dave and Jean Bean out for sushi. We went to our favorite place in town - Ocean World. There was some trepidation, but everyone went willingly without sedation. The big hit of lunch was the soft shell crab roll, followed by a new roll - smoked salmon, spicy sauce, and asparagus tempora. Dave and Jean weren't big fans of the salmon nigiri, but baby steps here people.

Mom even said that she would try sushi again. It was great to see them expanding their palate, and to have them come to Indy for the day. Maybe next time it won't rain and we can go walking in the park.

Monday, July 13, 2009

reflections

west coast
  • actual non-iodized salt (sometimes even in a salt mill) at good restaurants
  • people don't assume that you need a crappy plastic bag when shopping, they *gasp* ask
  • carafes of water at the dining table
home
  • conspicuous absence of folks walking around in cute hats
  • very little danger of getting hit by a cyclist crossing the street
  • no human poo within 6 feet of my front door

The Farm Café

4.5 stars in 111 reviews on yelp, plus Lisa had heard good things - anticipation was high.

We started with a baked brie appetizer with toasted hazelnuts (which are featured local ingredients), local raspberries, and blueberries. It was good, but nothing spectacular.

The same cannot be said for the entrees.

We'll talk about my entree first the description from the menu - handmade ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, hazelnuts, basil, pecorino, Parmigiano Reggiano and ricotta served with blistered cherry tomatoes. Omitted the wonderful nectar that was the gravy-like sauce that the ravioli were bathed in. Ravioli can so often be turned into the token vegetarian dish with crappy red sauce from a can. Not so at the farm cafe - the sauce was much thinner than a standard tomato sauce, but it was packed with flavor.

However, the real show-stopper was Lisa's entree. Let's start with the description by letting all of you know that Lisa ATE THE WHOLE THING. Absolutely nothing was left after Lisa had finished with the grilled corn and smokey blue cheese risotto. The smokey blue cheese gave the entire dish an extra layer of flavor that pushed it over the top. Lisa tried to get the recipe and got a few details - I'm sure she will spend most of the time before she starts law school trying to replicate it, we'll keep you updated.

We were both too full for dessert, and sorry folks - no pictures, we were too busy eating :-)

Bottom line - if you like food and you hit Portland, Farm Café is a must. I know we'll be back when we return to PDX.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

an ace in the hole

3709828913_53454b3e67 MDK-20090710-1251, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Here in Portland, we stayed at the Ace Hotel. It was featured in the New York Times frugal traveler's recent article on Portland and it was also well rated in the lonely planet guide.

Some of you have already heard this story, but I'll retell it here anyway. Lisa's been getting into cocktails lately and she ran into a great drink blog - http://jeffreymorgenthaler.com. She wanted to make sure that if we ever came to visit Portland that we checked out he restuarant/bar where Jeffrey works - Clyde Commons. After we booked our hotel, we went to see where it was in relation to the other things around Portland that we had staked out to see. It turns out that Clyde Commons is actually attached to the Ace Hotel! Also attached to the hotel is a stumptown coffee, which is oh-so sweet.

When we first arrived, I saw a bunch of folks sitting on couches around the old rescued hotel sign in the picture in the lobby. Working and playing on mac laptops with Andrew Bird playing in the background. It was a beautiful thing.

Our room is modern chic, has a glass shower and fun graffiti style art on one wall. One of the best things about the room is the "work area" that is just a simple table with two chairs - perfect for two laptops. The bed is low to the ground with a mattress - straight out of 'design out of reach'.

We'll definitely be staying in another Ace if we get the chance (click through for big-stitched panorama).

3711560049_ea822a658a aceroomstitched, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Coast Starlight

Lisa and I wanted to have a little getaway before she starts school and have both always wanted to visit Portland. After seeing how much it would be to rent a car and drive up the coast we started looking for alternatives and found the Amtrak Coast Starlight. It's a train that runs from LA to Seattle and features some of the best scenery the west coast has to offer.

I'm here to tell all of you that train travel while seemingly similar to air travel is in fact a completely different animal. The facts that have led me to this conclusion are as follows:
  1. Absolutely no security check.  No scanners, no questions, no nothing.
  2. The bathrooms in the Emeryville station had a complicated token lock system.  You actually had to obtain a token from one of the agents to use the restroom.  They were however disabled, which led to the bathroom chaos one may expect.
While we were waiting, Kerry and Isaac were remembering their journies by train and had jealously gushed - you get to meet train people!  Sitting next to her, I could hear Lisa's skin crawl at that very moment.   Alas, our bed was already made and we steped onto the Coast Starlight just before around 10PM.

We were shown to our sleeperette (emphasis on the -ette) by our helpful car attendent Katherine.  Now, one of the other differences between air travel and the train would be how one packs.  There is no room in a sleeperette for baggage.  They expect that you'll pile your bagagge out in the open with other people's bags from your train.  Given the aforementioned train people this made both of us a bit anxious. Which resulted in sharing a single sleeperette bed (smaller than a twin) for the evening (note the luggage on bed #2).

3707519046_08359983f1 MDK-20090708-1240, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

It wasn't awful, but we won't be doing it again any time soon.

3706706959_e38f5110c6 MDK-20090708-1242, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.


After the restless night, we headed off to the dining car for breakfast, which wasn't awful. When we got back to the -ette after breakfast our attendant offered to make our "bed" back into seats so we had to vacate for a bit. We ended up near the cafe (vending machine food at higher prices) in the only free booth, next to three screaming kids. This is when we meet our first "train person". An unkept man, holding a tray of food uncomfortably asks to sit down in our booth. He sits down and asks "What's your language?" to which we reply English, and he begins to ramble about how there are so many good books in English unlike his language - Persian. It's only now that I realize what this man is eating - saltine crakers and jelly packets, both lifted from said cafe. He's washing it down with a free cup of coffee. After a few uncomfortable minutes and questions, the man gets up to stock up on more Smucker's Grape. Lisa and I took it as our opportunity to leave.

On a much brighter note - the privacy of our -ette was the perfect place to enjoy the scenery that was strolling by our window.

The prettiest part was when we were riding through the Willamette National Forest. For much of the trip there were small streams and rivers running next to the tracks. It really is a great way to see the country. Much better than in a car on the interestate, but not quite as good as on a motorcycle.

video

3706707211_b2bb82d358 MDK-20090709-1247, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Spezielle darstellung des arteriensystems, der brust eingeweide und harnorgane.

Our friend Heather just posted today about how special art is to them, mostly the stores about how things were acquired. Lisa and I feel much the same way, and so I had to share another art acquisition story that happened just today!

I'm always on the lookout for medical antiques, and Kerry mentioned that there was a store in North Beach that has a whole book full of medical engravings, so we headed over. We walked into a super organized store - all of the pieces were organized into acid-free books preserved nicely labeled with prices and very orderly. They only had a few pieces, but the owner suggested that we check out Aria up the street. The owner warned us that Bill, the proprietor at Aria was quite eccentric and the store may not be open. It was only about a block away so we ventured over.

3699241583_ff677141a3 MDK-20090707-1234, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

The sign on the door said that it was closed, but there were a few folks inside. It was really odd, and no one was acknowledging that we were there. We were about to walk away when a woman with a big hairy dog walks through the door saying, "Let's go see Bill". We decided to follow behind her and entered. The man behind the counter seemed confused saying to us, "Oh....well...we're closed...err....ok....you can stay". The folks at the first store were right. There were a ton of medical engravings, and anatomical posters, all scattered throughout the store in piles by the window in full sunlight in massive disarray.

After Bill warmed up and realized that we were serious - he started pulling out cool antique poster after cool poster. Throughout the whole experience it was apparent that Bill really loves each piece that he 'collects'.

We finally decided on two engravings from an 18th century textbook images with engraving plates and sheets with text describing the figures that we'll frame together.

and

3700052528_0b5b4e9786 MDK-20090707-1235, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

He gave us a special deal because he was leaving for France tomorrow for two weeks and always likes to make deals before he leaves. Thank goodness we decided to go today instead of tomorrow.

Gustatory Glee - part 2

Part two of Jon's present was lunch at Chez Panisse.

From wikipedia -
Chez Panisse is a Berkeley, California restaurant known as the birthplace of California cuisine, a style credited to its co-founder, Alice Waters.

The restaurant is located in the north Berkeley neighborhood known locally as the "Gourmet ghetto". Chez Panisse has been listed by Restaurant magazine from 2006 to 2008 as one of the top fifty restaurants in the world. In 2006 and 2007, Michelin awarded the restaurant a one-star rating in its guide to San Francisco Bay Area dining.

Needless to say, the Chez Panisse cafe lived up to it's stellar reputation, and even eclipsed A16 considerably. Unlike many other restaurants in the Bay Area that we've visited that state "We use sustainable and local products wherever possible", Chez Panisse states on their menu - "We use only local produce and sustainably raised or farmed products"

The appetizers that we selected included a rocket (a.k.a. arugula) salad with smoked duck breast and sauteed shallots, and green beans with basil, crème fraîche, and toasted hazlenuts. Both were excellent with the green beans winning for the perfect combination of flavor and texture.

Isaac and I had boudin blanc sausages which were cooked to perfection with a very mild, yet complex flavor. They were served with shoestring potatoes that were actually thinner than shoestrings and must have taken hours to prepare and seconds to fry.

Kerry had squid from Monterey Bay, which was ultra-fresh and lacked that rubbery texture of squid at most other establishments.

Lisa apparently hadn't had enough of Pizza and selected the leek, green olive, fontina pizza, which came close to rivaling her funghi selection from the night before.

Dessert at Chez Panisse was extremely yummy.
Burnt caramel ice cream with black mission figs and biscotti

3699050358_5a0b67ff49 MDK-20090706-1222, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Mixed berry cobbler with almond ice cream
3698239605_fd69d627b3 MDK-20090706-1223, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Mocha cream puffs with espresso chocolate sauce
3698239855_860b96f4d2 MDK-20090706-1224, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

and

Apricot sherbet with fresh raspberries and ginger snaps
3699051254_d75c7f89ae MDK-20090706-1225, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

We had an excellent meal, and would like to Thank Jon Laws once again. Definitely two meals to remember for a long time.

3698241011_72d7eb7ae2 MDK-20090706-1228, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

3698240571_fe23c214bb MDK-20090706-1227, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Gustatory Glee

3694114227_e168d6c629 MDK-20090705-0026, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Jon Laws generously substituted traditional presents for the next three years of birthdays and Christmas to give us loot for dining out in San Francisco. He picked two restaurants - A16 and the legendary Chez Panisse.

We went to A16 for dinner on Sunday night, an Italian joint known for it's wood-fired pizzas. There were several highlights of the night: prosciutto tasting, Lisa's funghi pizza, and the pistachio honey gelatto.

The prosciutto tasting featured three different varieties from the states. The first was done in a traditional style. The second was a Berkshire variety that was quite a bit fattier than the others and was ranked a distant third by both Isaac and myself. The last sample was spectacular - a traditional proscuitto that was acorn finished. There was a noticeable difference with far more complexity and depth of flavors.

Lisa's choice of funghi pizza was spectacular and all agreed was the best entree of the evening. At least 3-4 mushroom types were *roasted* and combined with smoked mozzarella, grana padano, garlic, oregano, wild arugula. The arugula instead of being baked in was added on top after baking which was absolutely perfect. The roasting of the mushrooms, which none of us had seen before, intensified their flavor without turning them into a dripping mess as is usually the case with most cooked mushrooms.

Dessert was a chocolate tart with olive oil and sea salt. If any of you haven't tried the awesome combination that is chocolate + olive oil let me know and I'll get you a recipe to try. Unfortunately, the tart needed a much darker chocolate to balance the strong salt and olive oil flavors. Dessert was rescued with excellent pistachio honey gelato that will be replicated at home :-)

The four of us at A16 -
3694778544_e366290cee MDK-20090705-1213, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

3693972243_e6583bdc75 MDK-20090705-1214, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

*stay tuned for chez panisse report*

Monday, July 6, 2009

Official Visit


MDK-20090501-0017, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.


Isaac treated us to a tour of Gazillion studios. We can't say anything about what goes on there except that the game looks spectacular :-)

Reflecting on our visit, one thing that was striking was that basically every desk had some type of array of toys. The most impressive site was someone's desk who had at least 50 action figures, still in the original packaging meticulously hung covering all the walls of his/her cube. What was even better is that they were Simpsons action figures, which I didn't even know existed.

Isaac's desk had a few toys, but was mainly decked out in paper lanterns. One of my favorite touches is that Isaac took a cool bamboo rug and wrapped it around one of the industrial cabinets (right hand side of the photo). The whole place has a strong atmosphere of creativity and collaboration, which you can feel even without folks running around working (it was Sunday). Many of the walls are painted such that they can be used as whiteboards which allows for a lot of space to organize development and share work that's going on.

Walking around you can see that everyone works hard and plays hard. An arsenal of Nerf weapons litter the landscape (including Isaac's homebrew Nerf blowgun). They have a game room with two big-screen TVs with all of the major consoles, as well as ping-pong and pool tables. The vending machines and coke machines are all free.

Geek cred runs high, I even saw a Commodore 64 in one of the offices :-)

Thanks to Isaac for taking us around, it was great fun!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hung up

Hangar One

In the pursuit of all things cocktail and interesting local food/drink. Lisa and Kerry found Hangar One and the St. George Distillery. After a good nom in the Ferry building, including a beautiful tasty latte from Blue Bottle Coffee, we boarded the ferry to Oakland with the monkies and seven of their friends.


MDK-20090501-0017, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

The ferry exposed us to a side of the Bay Area that most don't see on a tour of San Francisco. The port of Oakland is quite impressive with several huge container ships and tons and tons of containers.




MDK-20090501-1186, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Once we got off the ferry, it was short walk over to the Hangar.


MDK-20090501-1168, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Yep Hangar One is in an old Hangar on the retired Alameda Air Base. The tasting room and the distillery is a really cool space with lots of character. We got to taste all of the different brandies, liquors, and liqueurs that they offer including some kickin' absinthe.


MDK-20090501-1177, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Kerry and Isaac's friends are as cool as Kerry and Isaac so you know we had a great time.

Check my glass

Got to see Em and Carm last weekend. Emily's folks are moving out of Taj MacNeill into a smaller place in Broadripple. Emily and Carm came to town to help Barb go through everything and Lisa and I crashed the party to help out as well.

We made out on the deal with a sweet new piece of furniture - the glass case on the right. Apparently, Barb and Bob have had the case for a long time and even moved it once across the country strapped to the top of a Volvo. Lisa cleaned it up and oiled it a bit, and it looks great.


MDK-20090501-1157, originally uploaded by monkeydoc.

Now Lisa has a home for all of the new stemware that she wants!

We also got an espresso machine that is going to be pimp in my new office :-)

Thanks Barb and Bob!!