Thursday, May 19, 2011

week 19 miscellany

Last week began with a baby shower for Dan and Carmen! Carmen's cousin Amy and I threw their co-ed tea party and baby shower on Saturday afternoon at Crown & Crumpet in Ghirardelli Square. We had a few games that required no skill whatsoever—they were more like door prizes—and the rest of the time was spent having tea and watching Dan and Carmen open their presents. Meanwhile, I took a lot of pictures. My favorite was this one of Dan and Carmen at the beginning of the shower, wearing the Baby Daddy ribbon and baby tiara that Carmen had made for Amy's baby shower last year.

127/365 the royal couple

On Saturday night, after the baby shower, Steve and I realized that we hadn't yet picked out a new recipe to make for lunch on Sunday. I grabbed Mario Batali's Molto Gusto—good for quick pastas—and found that we had previously bookmarked the Pennette with Cauliflower Ragu. That looked good and easy, and it didn't involve special produce only available at the farmers market. (We just substituted penne, because we had run out of the smaller pennette.) It turned out to be really tasty, between the parmesan in the cauliflower ragu, the rosemary, and the bread crumbs on top. It's a keeper.

128/365 cauliflower ragu

Monday was one of those days during which I enjoyed having nowhere to be. It had been another busy weekend, between Cinco de Mayo, Amy's visit, the baby shower, and work on Sunday. After all that, I was happy to spend Monday editing pictures from the baby shower and drinking white tea from my new cup. It had arrived a week or two before, but I had been busy enough that I hadn't needed to use it for a picture then.

129/365 tea cup

Tuesday seemed like a good day to go for a walk on Valencia Street to check another photo idea off of my list. There's usually a rack of vintage shirts outside Room 4, but I kept passing it on days when I already had my picture of the day taken or when I was headed somewhere else that was promising. This time, I made a point of stopping and taking the shot; luckily, the shirt in front wasn't too ugly.

130/365 sidewalk sale

On Wednesday afternoon, I had a dress rehearsal for the cabaret show. Knowing that I probably wouldn't take any pictures at the studio, I made a detour through the park and around the block before going to the car. I took a few pictures of random things, but the passiflora in the park won for the day. It also fit the 365 group theme for the week of "Down the Garden Path."

131/365 passiflora

Steve and I ended up going out for dinner on Thursday evening, partly because I didn't have a picture for the day yet. It worked out pretty well, though; we finally got around to trying Heart Wine Bar. It had been open for over a year already, and it was close enough that we really had no excuse for not trying it sooner. Unfortunately for us, they had just reworked their menu and stopped serving the hot small plates that had looked interesting, but they still had cheese and meats. We ordered a "Mission picnic" dinner of four cheeses with accompaniments, prosciutto, and a sandwich. The cheeses were especially good, and we enjoyed them with our "unpretentious" wine in jars.

132/365 heart

I went downtown on Friday. Steve and I were leaving the next Tuesday to go to MI and IL, and I wanted to get a new spring coat that would look a little less casual than white jacket. (That one is starting to look sad after two years of wear.) I found success with a classic black trench coat at Banana Republic; however, I didn't actually take any pictures while I was at the mall. I think I've been there frequently enough that I don't find it inspiring anymore. So to fulfill my picture quota for the day, I went to Anthropologie. They had some letter cups on display that looked picturesque. And since there were hoards of tourists descending on Market & Powell nearby—or ascending from the BART station—I didn't feel too out of place whipping out my camera in the store. 

133/365 g through t

That's all for another week. You can look forward to some MI pictures in week 20—that's where we are right now—followed by some IL and Chicago pictures in week 21. I brought my laptop with me on this trip to try to keep up with photo editing, but I make no promises, especially for the days when we're in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

visits and more busyness

Here we are again for another week. I left off last time about halfway through Rich's visit. The Saturday that began week 18 was actually the main reason for his stay in San Francisco: the now annual "Death March." Rich and some of his friends from various parts of the country have begun a tradition of meeting in a designated city for a ~20 mile walk, seeing landmarks and eating some food along the route. Last year, they walked New York City; this year, San Francisco.

Steve decided to join in, so on Saturday morning, I drove the boys to the southeast side of the Golden Gate Bridge, where they were meeting the rest of the marchers. I had to work, which meant that I couldn't do the walk. Instead, I took a few minutes to walk around the Golden Gate recreation area and got a few pictures before I drove home. Picture of the day? Done before 8am.

120/365 the bridge in the morning

In case you're wondering, the guys got through their march without actually dying. They walked the length of the Golden Gate and back, through Fort Mason, to Pier 39, up to Coit Tower, back down along the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, up through China Town, up Market to Civic Center, through the Mission to Bi-Rite Creamery and Dolores Park, through the Castro, then up to Twin Peaks. Not officially included in the march was the 2.5 mile walk back down through Noe Valley and back to our house. I joined them for a beer & burger dinner at our neighborhood restaurant when they made it back. Steve was majorly sunburned, despite my insistence that he take sunscreen—which he never actually put on—but was otherwise in one piece.

On Sunday morning, we took Rich to Potrero Hill for brunch at Plow. We hadn't been there since February, but the place hadn't gotten any less popular in the meantime. There was plenty of time, after putting our name on the list, to walk down the street and look around at Big Daddy's Antiques (a few blocks away) before we had to get back to the restaurant for the end of our wait. While we were standing outside, I recognized one of my Flickr contacts leaving with her husband. I introduced myself, and we chatted a bit. It was fun to finally meet her in person!

Brunch itself was, not surprisingly, amazing. I couldn't decide between the french toast with strawberries and the lemon ricotta pancakes that I loved so much last time, so I got the french toast and a pancake on the side. The best part was actually the lemon ricotta pancake with the strawberries from the french toast.

121/365 plow pancake

Rich left on Monday morning, and I was suddenly without a photo-worthy object or activity in mind for the afternoon. I was also without the ambition to go anywhere after so many busy days. Then, Steve told me that my Blurb books had arrived at his work. These would be the Blurb books that I finally made of my pictures from 2009 and 2010. That was a good enough subject for me.

122/365 published

The break was over by Tuesday. It was time to start running the necessary errands to prepare for Carmen's baby shower on Saturday. First stop was Bi-Rite Market. We were doing some prizes based on places, and I was in charge of buying some local SF stuff. I got what I needed, stopped for a look at Pot & Pantry on the way back, and then decided to try out the newly opened coffee shop where Gypsy Honeymoon used to be. The owner guy made me an iced chai, since it was warm out, and I got a picture of the flowers in the window on my way out.

123/365 fiore caffe

Wednesday was part two of buying SF goodies. This time, a trip to the Ferry Building was required. I got S'mores Bites from Recchiuti and some lemon shortbread cookies from Miette. I also got a yellow cupcake with strawberry buttercream frosting from Miette. (I couldn't resist after seeing Rich's photo from Saturday of a chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream.) Since I wanted to eat it with a fork for better frosting-to-cake ratio, I took it home for its photo shoot. And yes, that strawberry buttercream was fabulous.

124/365 strawberry (short) cupcake

Cinco de Mayo was Thursday, so I spent part of the afternoon making David Lebovitz's Racines Cake from Ready for Dessert for the evening's festivities. It wasn't exactly a Mexican cake, especially since the recipe came from a French restaurant. However, a flourless chocolate cake with cocoa nibs on top sounded good to me—and easy to scale to feed 7 people. Steve made some cinnamon-vanilla ice cream to go with it, so that helped "Mexican it up" a little. Aside from having to separate 6 eggs and wash the mixer bowl and whisk attachment between whipping the yolks and the whites, it was pretty quick and easy to make. It turned out to be a good ending to our meal of shredded turkey in red mole, black beans, and rice (all made by Steve). We ate downstairs in Dan and Carmen's flat, Rob and Traci came, and Carmen's cousin Amy had just flown in from MI for the baby shower. A good time was had by all, even if pictures were somewhat sparse.

125/365 cinco de mayo dessert

And Friday was even busier. I was supposed to get my hair cut in the late afternoon on Thursday, but my stylist called and rescheduled for Friday morning. When I got back from doing that downtown, it was time for lunch with Carmen and Amy in Potrero Hill. Where else? Plow, again! It wasn't quite as crowded as it had been on Sunday, but we still had time to kill, looking around the little neighborhood. After lunch, we went to Big Daddy's Antiques (again) and got some dessert at the Tell Tale Trunk Show, which had been closed on Sunday. Then it was time for the main event: pedicures. It was my first ever (I know...) and it was a lot of fun. But the picture of the day was the inside of Plow. I just love that place.

126/365 plow again

That concludes another week and, as of that Saturday, another month. Here's the April mosaic! Not bad, even though I was sick for pretty much the whole third row.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

easter and other spring-tivities

The last full week of April was a busy one, with Easter and a visit from Steve's college roommate, Rich. Without further introductory babble, here's week 17.

I was coming off being sick the previous week, so I didn't want to overdo it that Saturday. It was the annual day of noise on our street, otherwise known as the ArtFest and Raffle for the school nearby. Each year, they close off the street in front of the house, and there are live performances and such. Steve and I walked through it a little as it was starting to wind down, but I didn't really take many pictures. Instead, I took pictures of Enzo. Dan and Carmen had a pre-baby class all day, so they asked us to take Enzo out around noon. We saw no cats and only one barking dog behind a fence, so Enzo was pretty easy to manage.

113/365 dog-walking duty

The next day was Easter Sunday, and the logical choice for a picture was Easter candy. Steve got me Cadbury Creme Eggs, some cute painted chocolates from Recchiuti, and some candy-coated almonds from Miette. I encouraged him not to waste money on a basket we wouldn't use again, so it all went into a bowl. He did, however, make the effort to cut some green paper to make "grass."

114/365 easter bowl

The rest of the day was filled with cooking. We had decided to be "ironical" and have rabbit for Easter, so we picked two Ethan Stowell recipes that would provide lunch and dinner and use almost the full rabbit. For lunch, we had a salad with the loin. For dinner, a roast of the legs, served with potatoes and carrots (Steve's addition). There was also a fava dish with creme fraiche, mint, and lemon, from Gerald Hirigoyen's Pintxos. It was a good meal, and it was suitably festive.

For dessert, I helped Steve make a Lime-Vanilla Cheesecake from Delicious Days. (He took the lead on the crust, and I mixed up the filling.) He had shown me the recipe online a few days earlier, and it seemed like the perfect addition to our Easter meal.

Part of Monday afternoon was devoted to getting a proper picture of the cheesecake, since it was dark by the time we ate it on Easter. I used some creative composition to hide the fact that about a quarter of the cheesecake was missing by the time I shot the photo. When I was setting up the shot, I planned to take it with just the white fabric for background. But then I got the idea to include a little of the dining room window behind it. Since the limes were the only things I had on hand to add some color (and indicate the cheesecake's flavor), the green bokeh turned out to be a good addition.

115/365 lime-vanilla cheesecake

Tuesday's picture was also kind of a pickup shot from Easter. I wanted to take a photo of the Recchiuti "Peep & Hop" burnt caramel truffles before I started to eat them. You may or may not recall some similar Halloween-themed Recchiuti truffles from two years ago. I think these are cuter, even if I wasn't quite as creative with the composition.

116/365 edible art

Steve's aforementioned friend and college roommate, Rich, arrived in town on Wednesday. We took him to dinner at Pi Bar for pizza, beer, and polenta fries that night, but I wasn't in love with any of the pictures I took there. I preferred a shot from that afternoon of our strawberry plant and its three strawberries. I ate the ripest one after taking the picture, and it was quite good. Too bad we didn't get enough to do much with them.

117/365 strawberries

Part of Thursday was spent hanging out with Rich in the Mission. We went to Dynamo Donuts for breakfast, followed by Philz Coffee (consumed on the walk home). After a quick break, we set out again down Valencia to try out Mission Cheese for lunch. I had seen several pictures of the newly opened shop/cafe from my Flickr contacts, and I was eager to try it. Between the grilled cheese sandwiches, the ranunculus flowers in glass milk bottle vases, the cheese on the counter, and the chalkboard menu, I was happy with the place.

118/365 mission cheese accomplished

After our cheese lunch, I stayed home and edited photos, while Rich walked up to Bernal Heights to explore for a while. Steve and I took him to Noe Valley for dinner at Contigo that evening, so it was a rather productive day, foodwise.

Then came the Royal Wedding on Friday—technically while we were sleeping. Rich had plans with a friend of his, so I parked myself on the couch to edit pictures and watch the BBC America coverage of the wedding, fast-forwarding past some of the hours of filler. I thought it was rather lovely, with those trees in the Abbey, the impressive overhead shots of the church during the ceremony, the choral music, all the hats (good and hideous), Kate's pretty dress, and the cute kids in the wedding party. Being the same age as William and Kate, I missed Charles & Diana's wedding, so it was fun to watch this one. They seem like a nice couple, and they looked happy, despite all the pomp and madness.

I took a break in the middle of the coverage to walk down to Humphry Slocombe for some ice cream from their special Royal Wedding menu. I took several pictures there, in between bites of my Eton Mess ice cream, but it was the random paper on a pole near the house that made the cut as picture of the day. I thought it was still fitting, and it reminded me a little of the movie Love Actually, which tied in with the British too!

119/365 love actually is all around

It feels like I should continue through the end of our weekend with Rich, but that's for next time...