Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Joshua Tree in Bloom

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You go for a blast of flowers and colors:

Near the Cottonwood region of Joshua Tree – purple chia and yellow desert sunflowers.

But you stay for the details:

Desert start, also called “belly flowers” – at 1/2 cm width and about that tall, you have to get down to your belly to appreciate.


Desert Zinnia, perhaps?

Fremont Pincushion


Desert Lupine


Teddy Bear Cholla bloom


Claret cup hedgehog

Another hedgehog

Apricot mallow

Desert Canterbury Bells

Mojave Aster

Indian Paintbrush

Wild Heliotrope

Blazing star



Yellow cups

Palmilla, a smaller yucca, also called soaptree

Written by locomotoring

April 17, 2017 at 2:10 am

Benu in San Francisco

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San Franciscans are smitten by Benu. Multiple Michelin stars decorate Benu’s crown. When we went to Restaurant Sant Pau a few years ago, Carme Ruscadella said good things about Benu. So we decided to make this the celebration spot for the 25th year of our partnership. It turned out to be a 20 course meal with 23 independent plates – almost one for every year!

Cold starter – chicken jelly (at the bottom) with lime peels in whipped cream layer served with pine-y mountain caviar (cypress pods braised in pork broth)

Cold starter – tuna marrow with tangerine dashi and aged tangerine peel

Room temperature starter – Monkfish liver flan (slightly bitter), marinated trout roe, crunchy puffed buckwheat

Warm starter – Oyster & pork belly with spicy kimchi in a crispy skin, eaten in a single bite

Warm starter – Squid with shiso leaf wrapped around Korean blood sausage

Charcoal grilled abalone with seaweed, meat-y abalone with a roasted chestnut like flavor

Crunchy faux shark fin, in a savory broth with chewy-crab, truffles, and egg white

1000 year old egg with parsnip potage

Sea urchin marinated in fermented crab sauce served with a short grained rice

Crispy frog’s leg, lettuce, sweet and sour sauce

Steamed bass, in a fish maw broth with black moss

Fresh tofu skin, shitake, yellow chive

Barbecued Quail, first brought whole to the table for display and then served up sliced, plump and juicy

Spring bamboo shoots, mild version of the canned shoots, slightly crunchy

Sea of Okhotsk (marginal sea at the western edge of Pacific Ocean surrounded by Russia & Japan) sea cucumber stuffed with lobster, the sea cucumber has a tendon like texture

Beef rib steak w/ gochujang and other assorted condiments

Teeny-weeny (really, they are just born) turnip pickle

Fern kimchi with cashew powder

Beef broth with shiitake mushrooms and vegetables

Omija and olive oil, sour, fruity, peppery sorbet

Acorn and chocolate, almost like a dense chocolate ice cream with candied coco nibs

Malted rice with shaved ice, pine nuts, candied peel, pink lady apples

Minty-crispy strip

There were a few favorites – the fresh bamboo shoots were our first and perhaps the highlight of our meal, the malted rice with shaved ice, the tiny tiny new turnips, and the cypress caviar. Then there were many well executed dishes – the beef steak was melt in your mouth, juicy and plump barbecued quail, fresh tofu skin wrapped shiitake logs, monkfish liver, steamed bass, fried frog legs, and the charcoal grilled abalone. The meal reminded us a bit of Jai Yun – particularly with respect to the meal cadence and number of dishes. A dish was served almost every 5 minutes.

Unfortunately, romantic it was not. When one goes to a Michelin starred restaurant, particularly a 3 starred one, there is an expectation of being swept off one’s feet. Benu food is clever without being passionate. The decor is cold. The service was mixed. It is unfair to expect old school service like Tour d’Argent, but lackadaisical is unacceptable. Perhaps we made the mistake of not combining the meal with alcohol – some wine might have made us feel warm and fuzzy.

Written by locomotoring

March 27, 2017 at 3:57 am

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Strandbeest and Theo

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My first experience with Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest, aside from youtube videos and his TED talk, was a model kit. This is a 3d printed kit of Animaris Ordis Parvus that we bought from his website. It’s very sight gives joy. Yesterday, I noticed that the elastic holding the backbone had disintegrated, my poor strandbeest with a broken back and in captivity and it made me a touch sad.

In Theo’s words:

“Since 1990, I have been engaged in creating new forms of life. These forms are not made of protein like the existing life-forms. Theirs is another basic stuff: yellow plastic tubing. Skeletons made from these tubes are able to walk and get their energy from the wind, so they don’t have to eat. Their habitat is the beach where I was born. They evolved gradually, over several generations. As they developed, they became more adept at weathering storms and coping with the sea. My ultimate wish is to release herds of these beach animals on the shore to make their own way through life. By redoing the Creation, so to speak, I hope to become wiser in my dealings with nature that is already there. It presents me with the same problems the Real Creator must have come up against. Strandbeest is a testimonial to my experiences as God. I can assure you that it’s not easy being God, there are plenty of disappointments along the way. But, on the few occasions that things work out, being God is the most wonderful thing in the world.”

Such a pronouncement would normally sound a little crazy but in this case, it is the best kind of crazy there is.

Theo makes these from hollow plastic tubes and ties, it allows him to iterate cheaply. He is an engineer’s engineer. But as a spectator, to me all that matters is that these creatures move and breathe and then they die. When they move, they move like insects -some nimble and some lugubrious. When they breathe, the wind blows through these hollow pipes and makes an eerie sound, it is never the same sound twice. And when they die, they look like old disintegrated skeletons. In its movement, it is joyful, in its breathing, it is doleful, and in its death, it is sad.

Recently, San Francisco Exploratorium held a Strandbeest exhibition.

I was ecstatic to go. The youtube video captures the best of the exhibition and yet, it was an antithesis for me. The strandbeests on the cavernous exhibition floor were stranded. And in their sadness, they were deathly quiet.

Written by Sachin

October 5, 2016 at 1:40 am

A few scattered moments …

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Life in Centro Historico.

A clockwork of traffic crossing opposite Bellas Artes – the traffic lights are like dams and when they burst at their seams, a turbulent river of people make across the road.

Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the flyers) in Chapultapec park, opposite Museum of Anthropology – one playing the flute. An incredible ceremonial performance.

A walk down La Condesa neighborhood.

Tianguis Condesa (Tuesday Condesa Market) on Calle Pachuca.

A lazy afternoon watching bubbles

Written by locomotoring

April 18, 2016 at 4:08 am

In search of grasshopper salt

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We knew we would be able to source good Mezcal (e.g. Amaras Espadin) in California. But we were also certain that there would be no easy access to grasshopper salt. We were lucky to be living right opposite, Tlapaleria Gastronomica in Roma neighborhood, that sold artisanal food products made in Mexico. And what respectable gourmet shop in Mexico City won’t have grasshopper salt amongst its wares!

Tlapaleria Gastronomica, a gastronomic hardware show in Roma, right next door to El Parnita.

Various varieties of Mexican chili in oil.

More combinations of various chillies.

Finally, chapulin (grasshopper) salt.

Written by locomotoring

April 18, 2016 at 1:53 am

View of a rooftop

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Following murals are from rooftop of Museo Del Juguete Antiguo. This was a bit of a pleasant surprise, no one had really mentioned that the local artists had adopted the rooftop. We just noticed someone walking up, above the topmost floor of the museum, followed them and found the collection.

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Written by locomotoring

April 18, 2016 at 1:34 am

View from a rooftop

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Following picture are from rooftop of Museo Del Juguete Antiguo. Some of these photos are reminiscent of rooftop views in Old Delhi.

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Written by locomotoring

April 17, 2016 at 11:49 pm