pastry chefs.

A.k.a. Rubicon, part 1. Because of this post on this fabulous blog, I decided to share an experience I had at a restaurant recently. A little over a month ago, I ate at Rubicon (in San Francisco) with my family. It was a very wonderful meal, filled with good food, and good conversation. I would heartily recommend it to anyone, and I'll speak about it more in a future post, because this post is reserved solely for dessert talk and pastry chefs.

When I go out to a restaurant that is anything decent, I always order dessert. I love dessert, and I particularly love chocolate or a rich and creamy dessert. In fact, I can be a bit of a lush because I don't often deny myself something I want. Also, usually I am the only one to order dessert amongst my family. Not this time though! At Rubicon, 4 out of 5 of my dining party ordered dessert. Yes! This, I atrribute to their love and willingness to please me. At least, I choose to believe this.

In any case, this was not the only memorable part of dessert. While I was perusing the menu, I noticed that the pastry chef's name was listed: Nicole Krasinksi. I feel like I noticed this because it was rare. While I don't scrupulously examine menus to find the chefs’ names, I am an observant person and think that I would have noticed if it were a common practice to list the pastry chef’s name.

Last, but certainly not least, the dessert course was memorable because the desserts were fabulous. Truly. Two stood out from the bunch, but they were all around very tasty. Wanna hear what they are? Huh? Huh? Do ya? Too bad! *ahem* No, just kidding. I aim to please:

One of the desserts was a simple sorbet duo of strawberry and peach. It was very fresh and smooth and tasty. Real fruit flavor abounded like a well-tended orchard. Another of the quartet was a strawberry sorbet, but with ginger and a gingered beignet. The ginger lent that special something to the dish to make it stand out.

The two that knocked my socks off, though, were a chocolate cake and a financier and ice cream pairing. The chocolate cake was my dessert, so although I tasted the others, I really had time to appreciate that one. It was a basic square of chocolate cake, with a very deep, rich chocolate flavor, and a moist, slightly dense texture. It sat in a pool of crème fraiche, with a concentric circle of apricot preserves surrounding the moat of crème. The cake also had a topping of caramelized figs. Woah, man. Wooooooah man! It was amazing. The figs were sweet and crunchy, the cake was soft and rich, the crème fraiche smooth and tangy (almost like goat yogurt) and the apricot preserves added another layer of fruity goodness, to make it more complex. I could eat this dessert for every meal for the rest of my life.

The other knock-out dessert was a pecorino and plum financier with olive oil ice cream. It is more creative than the chocolate cake, but I think it lost a few points in the plating area. In any case, it was just as mind-blowing. The layer of pecorino cheese was salty and tangy, the layer of plum was a wonderful counterpoint and the financier in total was a fine, crumbly texture. It went so well with the olive oil ice cream. Yah- olive oil ice cream. It was divine. Rich and creamy and a little grassy and fruity. In the “odd flavors of ice cream” category, it is only bested by the bacon ice cream at Oliveto’s. Yah- bacon ice cream. Did Jeffrey Steingarten consult on that?

So that’s my tale of dessert at Rubicon. It was mighty tasty. Ms. Krasinski is doing good things.


the weather.

Hello weather gods of the bay area? It's me- MP. This weather is driving me crazy. Actually, it's not driving me crazy, it's just making me depressed. It's not always cold, though it certainly can be in the morning and at night. It is grey. All day. I think there was 2 hours of clear sky yesterday. It's July! Sun, heat, blue sky for miles, little, puffy, white clouds, water, the beach, cool, refreshing drinks- these are all things you find in the summer! Yet, they seem to dissappear with annoying frequency. My sunglasses languish in my cave-like apartment. My sunscreen has made friends with the towels, tissue and toiletries in the closet, and resigned itself to a year of darkness. I need Vitamin D! I need to get away, out of the bay.


Green energy.

I read this article today about green energy, and how it is bad for the environment. You read correctly: bad for the environment. How or why, you may ask? Well, read the article, duh. The writer for LiveScience.com does a very good job taking the information from Jesse Ausubel's study in the Inderscience's International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology (does the name tell you anything? like maybe he is pro nuclear energy?) and then contrasting it with other experts' views. It's a very objective piece.

I googled Jesse Ausubel's name to find out more about him, to see if I could discredit him at all and I found numerous other new sources citing his study. This one is much more one-sided; it solely reports on his study, and offers no differing viewpoints. This blurb I found to be hilariously succinct. It's very interesting to look at the different ways information is presented in the media.
But, back to the subject: green energy. I happen to agree with the point of view of Mr. Turner (from the article). If you just look at one solution, and don't count space, structure and systems already in place, then it's not going to look like an efficient and practical solution.

Take the wind power example Mr. Ausubel gives. He says that "in order to meet the 2005 electricity demand for the United States, an area the size of Texas would need to be covered with wind structures running round the clock."

  • First, relying on only one type of energy for all of America's (or humanity's) needs is a bad idea. Just like monoculture is bad. Just like using bamboo for building, flooring, cooking products, sheets, and clothing is bad. Just like never changing your mind about a war when new information is found, is bad (oops, how'd that slip in there?). In any case, variety is the spice of life.
  • Second, Nobody would take Texas (or an area the size of) and devote it entirely to wind power. That would be asinine. You break the energy structure up into little pieces and spread it all over the country. If I could, I would compare the energy system structures we already have around the nation, to the size of what he says we would need. I will predict that it wouldn't be that different.
  • Third, it seems that Mr. Ausubel is talking about replacing all of the current energy systems we have with wind power (or other green energy systems). This, again, is asinine. We don't need to replace every single system and structure that we already have. Anybody who has driven from the bay area to the 5 or to the foothills has seen windmills. Do we need to tear them down just to rebuild them? No. They work fine. And, the land underneath seems to be working fine as farmland, which is a point that Mr. Turner makes in the article. This means that the land used for these energy systems isn't all wasted on just energy, as Mr. Ausubel implies.

Mr. Ausubel goes on to state that nuclear energy is the best solution. To this, I think: really? Maybe it has a smaller carbon footprint, but leaky storage facilities, the need to store the nuclear waste for forever, and the possibility of a massive disaster all point to one thing for me: Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!!

*ahem* the end.


thank yous.

Thanks to Green Apartment Therapy, I've found organic cotton sheets and towels at West Elm. Yes!

West Elm Organic Line

Part of the problem of trying to live a sustainable, No Impact, or in this case, little impact, life is the amount of research it takes to do little things like buying towels, or big things like buying furniture.

This does not apply to food. It's fairly easy (at least where I live) to find a farmer's market and buy most things that you want or need. Also, buying food is fun for me. Going to the SF Ferry Building Farmer's Market? Fun! The Oakland and Berkeley markets? Fun! I get to imagine what I can make with what's available; I get to choose exactly which food I think is healthy and interesting. I get to discover new things. Did I mention I like to cook? I do. Buying food does not apply to un-appetizing (hah!) research.

What does apply is every time I want to buy: paper, pens, pots, pans, sheets, towels, clothes, toiletries, etc. The list goes on, and on. Right now, I happen to need sheets and towels. A friend told me she had found bamboo sheets at Target. Generally, I try not to support Target for political reasons, but I thought it would be an easy answer to my issue of where to find sustainable sheets. Of course, there is no easy answer. Bamboo is not the cure-all wonder plant. I went, and it turns out that Target has organic cotton sheets, as well, so I bought those. Mind you, I have no idea where this organic cotton comes from, how organic it is, or perhaps more importantly, what the worker conditions are like in India, where the sheets were made. Unfortunately, many times there seems to be a choice between labor conditions and environmentally-friendly conditions. For example, buying high-end clothes and textiles might eliminate the awful, third-world country labor conditions, but it might not eliminate pesticide use, which affects the raw element labor force, as well as the environment. Buying organic might help the raw element labor force and the environment, but it certainly does not stop the abuse of the poor textile workers. Why does there have to be a choice?? This is a topic for another post, entirely...

The whole point is that most times when I want to buy a home product, I have to do research into what is "sustainable" and "environmentally friendly." It adds up to be quite a bit of work, and sometimes, I just buy what's convenient. It's not always easy being green.

Here's the thank you part: there are now two accessible, budget friendly, and relatively well-known suppliers of organic sheets (that I know of). Target and West Elm. That means options, people. Options are good. It means that the concept of being environmentally friendly is going more mainstream, and that is always a positive thing.


this makes me happy

Green Apartment Therapy. Yes!

weddings are fun...

and Lake Tahoe is beautiful.


Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

So I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I read it because yes, I love food, and believe in the whole local, sustainable movement. But, I also love Barbara Kingsolver. I think she's an amazing storyteller, and this book is no diversion from that. In fact, what I liked most about the book wasn't the sidebars with facts on politics, culture and whatnot from Steven Hopp, the recipes from Camille Kingsolver, or even the facts from Ms. Kingsolver herself. What I enjoyed the most were the stories, egg-raising, canning, turkey sex and all. Hopefully that fact will encourage people to read the book, even if they aren't "foodies" or into the local, sustainable movement. The easiest way to introduce a new idea to the public, and have it accepted, is to normalize it as much as possible. It's a novel, not a sermon.

Next up? The Botany of Desire.


dude looks like a lady.

Has anyone noticed that Mick Jagger (when he was young) looked extremely effeminate? Like a cross between Liv Tyler and Mike Myers circa Wayne's World...


This essay/op-ed
explains (more elegantly than I ever could) how I feel about food.


los animales pobres.

I read a very depressing article the other day about puppy mills. It's just like it sounds: mills for dogs. Female dogs are stuffed into cages, never allowed to roam around, fed who-knows-what, impregnated often and then have their puppies instantly taken away. And this is the way that some pet shops and even some "breeders" get their merchandise. It's all absolutely awful, and unfortunately, it seems that in America, today, "ignorance is bliss" is our motto. I, for one, had never heard of puppy mills before this article, and I'm fairly sure that most people haven't. This is outrageous, if only for the reason that many people truly value their pets, and wouldn't like to see this happening to perfectly healthy dogs, and yet it is. You can read more here.

Does this sound familiar at all? Maybe like CAFO's? Animals stuffed into cages so that they have no room to turn around, let alone scratch, peck, root, run, breathe fresh air, enjoy the sun, water, grass, any natural atmosphere whatsoever?? The only difference that I can see between puppy mills and meat mills is that America has almost completely lost touch with the fact that meat comes from animals. (In most cases) we actually like, respect, and care for our pets. Not so much for our meat. In fact, I think most people are all too happy to forget that meat comes from living, breathing creatures. It's so much more civilized and convenient to buy a package of identically chopped, plastic-wrapped (hormone, antibiotic, garbage and corn-infused) squares of meaty substance, isn't it?

When did things get so out of hand in this country? Who are these people that care so little about animals (and in the case of CAFO's, humans) and the environment that they think this is okay or right or just? When did we collectively become so weak-hearted and so ignorant that we allow this to happen in our backyard? Since when did it become okay to turn a blind eye? I have some answers, but not all. Another day, another rant. Bah humbug.


utterly cute.

Look at how cute this is! Definitely for the food lover. *sigh* If only it came in different colors... get it


new toy.

Slices through everything like buddah. Eliminates crying at the hands of those multi-layered roots. Happy Birthday to me!