Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lady Gaga's "Telephone" as a Vintage Children's Book

I usually don't feature completely unoriginal content like this, but I was so very charmed when I first saw Andrew Kolb's illustrations for turning Lady Gaga's "Telephone" into a vintage children's book that I feel I must share it to anyone who missed it splashing on the other blogs (here). I am not much of a clubber in the music video sense, which is why I couldn't stop smiling when I saw this.
It's like the yuppie lifestyle set to Lady Gaga lyrics! What's not to love about that? The whole set can be seen in Andrew Kolb's Flickr stream.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Restaurant Review: Destino

Destino combines flavors from South America with Californian-style food. I bet it's the only place around here where you can find gnocchi made of yuca. Unfortunately this terrible photo I took on my BlackBerry camera does not accurately represent it. I need to find a new strategy for documenting good food in low-light conditions.

Service: Our waitress was friendly and conversational when we asked for her opinion on the dessert on the Dine About Town menu. She noted our water glasses every time she swung by our table, and made sure they were filled. She also remembered what I had ordered even after our plates were cleared away and asked me whether I'd liked it because it was her favorite dish there.

Food: We started off with chicken empanadas and an arepa with nopa vieja. I've had better empanadas elsewhere, but this was definitely the best arepa I've ever had. This was primarily because the arepa was stuffed with fontina cheese, which I'd never experienced with an arepa before, but also because the pulled pork shoulder piled on top of it was soft and full of flavor. This starter alone was good enough for me to want to come back, but then I had the gnocchi de yucca. Usually I find that even the best of potato gnocchi have quite a sturdy feel, and leave me feeling very heavy at the end of the meal; these had a much more airy feel, which I find to be the case whenever the yuca root is substituted for potatoes. They were rather large for gnocchi, but they were light and fluffy on the inside and crispy golden brown on the outside. The pool of thick, creamy huacatay pesto they were served in added an extra coating of flavor, and the whole dish basically blew me away.

Ambiance: Considering how delicious and creative the menu was, it felt like there was a mismatch with the decor. We sat in one of the red velvety booths along the perimeter, which was very comfortable but looked worn. There were some brightly-colored paintings and big mirrors on the walls but the dim yellow lighting made the place feel old rather than romantic. I took a peak at the adjoining Pisco Latin Lounge which looked a little more chic, but overall, I wish I could help them redecorate.

Rating: Strongly recommended.

Destino is located at 1815 Market Street, San Francisco, California 94103.

| Photo Credit: Me, on my worthless BlackBerry camera. |

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ice Cream that is so San Francisco at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous

I think Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous is the quintessential San Fracisco ice cream shop because they really seem to cater to all the SF stereotypes in me. In addition to using organic, seasonal, and local ingredients in all their house-made goods, everything is served with biodegradable containers/spoons so there is not even a trash can in the shop—just a compost bin. The owners are the ones manning the store front and they are super nice, so there's definitely a local small business vibe. Despite being an ice cream and sweets shop, the interior is simple—white walls, dark wood furniture, and fresh flowers and branches adding the accent colors. And it's located in the always-sunny Dogpatch, where it's never too cold for ice cream.

What I think is so awesome about them is that they make every single thing they offer from scratch in house, including the sundae toppings and all the confections. I am usually not much of a cone person because I don't like eating with my hands, but after seeing them take the wafer out of the little waffle press and roll it into a cone before my very eyes, I had to try it. Their list of flavors changes from day to day and on Saturday, I decided to go with the orange chip, delighted that instead of being chocolate ice cream base with orange flavor, theirs was a creamy classic ice cream base with dark chocolate shavings and real bits of orange zest. For someone like me who likes desserts that are simple, not too sweet, and with real ingredients, this was perfect. I also tasted a bit of Nick's caramel w/ sea salt (which tasted more like a salted crème brûlée to me) and cookies and cream (yum!). They don't have a website yet, but they often post photos of their menu on their Facebook page to give a sense of what flavors they have to offer.

Since it's just over in the next neighborhood, Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous is going to be my new place to take visitors who come over on weekends.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, January 24, 2011

Popcorn that Doesn't Taste Like It Will Kill You

I'm trying to start a new thing where I set myself a mini-goal every weekend; I call it a scavenger hunt, and even though it is nothing of the sort, it is my way of reminding myself to try something new once a week. Last weekend's scavenger hunt was for homemade popcorn.

I'd never made popcorn from scratch before but the idea had always appealed to me because I like being able to control the amount of grease and flavorings in my snacks. So, I got some popcorn kernels from the bulk bin at Whole Foods. I followed these easy instructions to pop the corn, and then drizzled one tablespoon of browned butter over it. Then I tossed the popcorn together with a mixture of freshly-grated parmesan cheese, kosher salt, and dried Italian herbs. It tasted satisfyingly homemade, and I liked how there wasn't a coating of artificial butter taste on everything. Definitely a successful experiment.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gray and White Striped Sheets—Can you tell the $200 difference?

I saw these DwellStudio sheets on one of my favorite blogs this morning and thought— Joy Cho has my West Elm sheets! I quickly realized that they were in fact different sheets, and that they were almost $200 more than mine. I rarely find that those "get this look for less" situations are really quite like getting the same look as a designer item for less but I felt like this one was a case worth noting.

These sheet sets are basically the same. Yes, the DwellStudio sheets are 400-thread count, compared to only 200-thread with the West Elm set, but the percale weave of the sheets I own make them feel so very smooth and luxurious that I find it hard to believe the discrepancy could warrant the difference in price tag. And DwellStudio's ash color does seem to have a little more of a burnt gray look than the feather gray stripes from West Elm, but if you are going for a gray motif in your bedroom, I think either shade would look lovely. Plus, with the funds you save by getting the less expensive sheets, you could buy this awesome coverlet which I also own.

| Photo Credit: See links provided. |

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

People Watching on Union Street

Cow Hollow is a little neighborhood in the northeast part of San Francisco, just south of the Marina, marked by Union Street. Having lived in Millbrae for three years, when I first started hearing people refer to Cow Hollow, I embarrassingly kept getting it mixed up with Daly City's Cow Palace, an indoor arena that literally houses cows (and tattoo expos). I'm not going to go into all the socio-economic complaints about Cow Hollow, other than to say that when we are in the area, Nick can't help feeling a sense of belonging.

Whenever I am planning on spending an afternoon in Cow Hollow, I like to start by grabbing a light lunch at La Boulange. I love La Boulange for it's delicious soups and pastries served on charming white and red dishes; I also enjoy the feeling like someone lovely is sharing their pantry with me when I sample the jams and cornichons from the glass jars at the little self-serve area. Its never-disappointing selection of food and warm ambiance make it possibly my favorite bakery in the city.
La Boulange has locations all over the city but I like the one on Union Street because it is a prime location for fun people watching. The outdoor tables are right on the sidewalk, facing the passersby. While I enjoyed my croque monsieur, little teacup full of tomato soup, and lemon tart, Nick and I couldn't help noting that all of the women in Cow Hollow basically dress the same way. In fact, we saw so many consistencies while we were there that we decided we'd become experts on the neighborhood by the time we finished our desserts. So, here is my neighborhood guide to visiting Cow Hollow.

What to Wear
Two outfits to wear to blend in with the women here.
  • yoga pants
  • breathable sports top
  • North Face Nuptse vest
  • big sunglasses
  • Louis Vuitton purse
  • boldly striped top
  • Anthropologie cardigan
  • skinny jeans
  • caramel-colored riding boots
  • Venti Starbucks cup

Things You'll Need
Things you should have with you if you plan to be seen here.
  • BOB three-wheel stroller
  • Lululemon Athletica shopping bag (bonus points if carried while wearing workout attire)
  • rolled-up yoga mat
  • cute dog

Things to Do
In all seriousness, these are some things you should really check out.
  • Have lunch at La Boulange. Order something that comes with a teacup of soup. The French onion soup here has changed Nick's opinion on the matter from "I don't really care for onion soup" to "Ooo, that is yummy."
  • Take a stroll down Union Street and pop into familiar chain stores like Rugby, Nine West, Sephora, and Lululemon Athletica, as well as random cute boutiques.
  • Take your dog for a walk and stop by at Le Marcel Dog Bakery—the all-natural, from-scratch bakery for dog treats.
  • Pick up some chocolates from Cocoa Bella. I, of course, like the tea-infused varieties, but their selection is quite vast and you'll be able to find something you like, too.
  • Get a cocktail and dessert at Umami. The dinner menu is also great if you are looking for pretty and flavorful but non-traditional sushi. But what was the most memorable from the last time we were there was the dessert—vanilla ice cream rolled into a sheet of chocolate chip cookie dough and sliced like a sushi roll. YUM.

Here is the Google Street View of Union Street.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tourism for Locals

Nick and I are going to London and Paris in March. London is my favorite city in the world because of my massive Anglophilia. It'll be my first time visiting Paris, and while I am not nearly enough of a romantic to buy into all of that "City of Love" business, I'm betting it'll still be a nice treat. Other people in my life seem to have been caught up in the excitement of my trip-planning too, which I think is adorable. My boss bought me these cute little books full of fold-out maps for Christmas and my friend Taleen bought me a sheet of Ladurée stickers in anticipation.

I have been spending a lot of my spare time researching things to do and I am finding sites like this and this to be extremely helpful; they feel a little more like they are written by a kindred spirit of mine than a professional travel guide writer. It makes me wonder, why doesn't someone make a site like this for San Francisco? While I'd love to make the time to take on such a project, I am not sure I can, or that I am hip enough to be that person. So in the meantime, I'll keep posting here about my lifestyle tips and observations as a local San Francisco tourist. Stay tuned for my neighborhood profile on Cow Hollow based on the lovely afternoon Nick and I spent there on Saturday.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Friday, January 14, 2011

Recipe: Enchilada Lasagna for Lazies

I was feeling lazy about my grocery list for this week and decided to get one of those $5 rotisserie chickens from Costco, which is a major steal because for us that means three meals worth of food. Plus I think that Costco's rotisserie chicken is juicer and more flavorful than ones I've had from other stores. I try to mix it up though by doing different things with the chicken meat. On the second day, I made this dish that I invented myself because I am too lazy to roll individual enchiladas. I usually try not to use so many pre-made sauces in my life because I like to control the amount of sodium I am consuming at home, but I'd had a really long day at work the day before so I decided to take it easy. At least I made my own guacamole.

2 rotisserie chicken breasts
1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons of your favorite salsa
4 of your favorite tortillas
8+ ounces grated Colby Jack cheese
1/2 cup enchilada sauce

Shred your chicken meat; hand-shredding will give it a much nicer texture than cutting it up with a knife. (The reason you should use the breast meat is because this dish will give it a moist environment and you should save the naturally-juicy dark meat parts for a classic chicken dinner.) Place the meat in a medium-sized bowl and combine it with 1 1/4 cups of your salsa. The mixture should hold together nicely without being too saucy, so add more salsa if necessary.

Preheat your oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Spoon 2 tablespoons of salsa into a 9" x 9" casserole dish and spread it around just to cover the bottom. Cut the tortillas into quarters. Place 4 tortilla quarters on the bottom so that the right angles of the pieces fit into the corners of the dish. Use another quarter to fill the hole in the middle.

Spoon half of the chicken-and-salsa mixture on top of the tortillas and spread it evenly. Sprinkle an even layer of cheese over it. Then repeat with another layer of tortilla quarters, the rest of the chicken-and-salsa mixture, and more cheese. Top it with a third layer of tortilla quarters, the enchilada sauce, and the rest of the cheese. (I use Rick Bayless's Chipotle Garlic Enchilada Sauce.) You can feed your remaining unused quarter of a tortilla to your husband and/or dog.

Bake the casserole for 30 minutes, and then let it set for a couple of minutes before cutting it up.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baker's Twine Birthday Card

I made this card for Nick's mom for her birthday.

This card was super simple to make. I punched out the pink and green circles and wrote the message on them. Then I used a tiny hole-puncher to punch a hole on the right and left sides of each circle, and four holes on the fold of the card to thread the twine through. Then I just threaded it all together with some baker's twine and tied a knot on the inside of the fold. The circles slide back and forth on the baker's twine because I like to make cards with a little interactivity.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: Dottie's True Blue Cafe

Dottie's is not the sort of place you go to when you roll out of bed after sleeping in and realize your tummy is rumbling—going to Dottie's is an event. It is right in the Tenderloin. There is always a 30 to 60 minute wait. There is no list so you have to hold your place in the line outside. But what really makes going to Dottie's an event is plainly that it is the best place in the city to get an old school American diner breakfast.

Service: Last weekend was our third time eating at Dottie's and every time, the staff has been calm and super friendly no matter how hectic the environment. The first time we ate there, we sat at the bar and got to watch the speed and skill of the chef as he cranked out omelettes on the stove while answering the constantly-ringing phone without missing a beat. There is a single-spaced page-long essay of house rules pasted to the windows of the restaurant that states they will never rush patrons or skimp on service no matter how long the line outside, and they stick to their house rules.

Food: I always order from the hand-scrawled specials board. Last weekend I had a portobello mushroom and provolone strata (I had to Google while I was there to find out what a strata was) which was amazingly fluffy, gooey, and melty at the same time. Previously, I've had the sweet potato tart, which was also gooey and delicious. The food always tastes and looks like old fashioned home cooking, but prepared in unexpected ways. Nick orders French toast pretty much whenever we eat out for breakfast and gives this place the trophy for the best French toast he's ever had; they used pumpkin bread to make the French toast and it had a butterscotch glaze.

Ambiance: This is a place where half a dozen types of hot sauce are stocked at every table along with various salt and pepper shakers disguised as tacky figurines or souvenirs. There are photos of movie stars from before my time on the walls (including a poster-sized one with breasts involved) and you have to wait on the sidewalk in the 'Loin just to get a seat. But all of this is part of what makes the Dottie's experience complete. They do accept take-out orders, but that just wouldn't be the same to me.

Rating: Strongly recommended.

Dottie's True Blue Cafe is located at 522 Jones St, San Francisco, California 94102.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lifestyle Tip: What to Do If Transparency Leads to CMYK in InDesign

This isn't in any way a techy and/or crunchy blog but a couple days ago I discovered a solution to a big InDesign conundrum and figured I would share it. Plus I am also trying a new thing here where I do a better job of using the post titles to describe what the post is about.

A few months ago I was collaborating with a friend of mine who is a designer. He was putting together a nifty branding guide in InDesign, but we realized that every time he used a transparency effect, all his RGB colors turned to dull-as-doldrums CMYK. I've made this little graphic to illustrate the difference. The same color swatches are displayed in the CMYK color space on the left and the RGB color space on the right.
I ran into the same issue last week on a separate project, and a quick Google led me to this where I was able to pick out the solution. If all your RGB things turn to CYMK when you're using transparency in an InDesign document, do the following:
1. Go to Edit.
2. Go down to Transparency Blend Space.
3. Select Document RGB.
Your colors should be back to their bright and shiny RGB goodness.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Today's Flavor: Wood Grain

After spending a good amount of time putting together my gift guide, I got pretty addicted to making those little product collages/composites. After the holiday came and went, I started to feel a void. So, I am introducing a new feature where I take an item I own and use it to set the theme for a collage of similar items I've found online. This will help readers find a piece of the yuppie lifestyle for themselves that is inspired by something I am loving at the moment.

I got this lamp shortly after we moved to San Francisco. I found it at the very bottom of a pile of sale stuff at the Burlingame Anthropologie and bought it for a super discounted price. I did a little research on the product later and learned that it is made out of an actual hollowed out tree stump. I didn't put a shade on it because I like seeing the contrasts among the natural wood, the antique-y brass harp, and the modern bulb.

Ever since I bought this lamp, I have been obsessing over real and faux wood grain things. Here are a few that have caught my eye.

|1. Terrain, Small Ash Wood Cutting Board | 2. Terrain, Wood Grain Pitcher |
3. Decoylab, Teapot Clock | 4. Lattice Wooden Mat | 5. Sherry Olsen, Wild Woodland Vase |

| Photo Credit: top. Me; 1–5. See links provided. |

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Getting a Yellow Card.

I got this adorable card from my friend Jess in the mail, and I had a pretty strong hunch right away that her little sister Stacie made it. I love it though—especially the yellow paper with the awesome dot texture.

Jess tells me that Stacie is a fan of my blog, so I hope she doesn't mind that I am featuring her card here.

| Photo Credit: Me. |

Monday, January 3, 2011

Santa Paws Had Come to Town.

Here are some photos from our very low-key Christmas. Lillabelle expressed her displeasure towards wearing her festive reindeer-antler headband by putting on her most pathetic face.

For our Christmas tree topper, I made a giant pom-pom out of a $1 pack of tissue paper following these instructions from the Martha Stewart site.

| Photo Credit: Me. |