Locomotoring

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

Archive for the ‘Bay Area’ Category

Atelier Crenn from an year ago

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Third time is the charm for the photos, with the latest renovation, there is now a hint of light for the lens. Not that photos matter or even the menu matters. A dinner at Crenn is like a series of short adventure trips for the uninitiated. No baby steps, you jump straight into it – sky diving, canoeing the rapids, zip lining, bungee jumping and so forth. Imagine you have been handed a schedule that looked like the following,

Sky, gravity & wind
River, foam & paddles
Canopy & pines

Frankly, even if the schedule came with a video of the activity, you will only know the motions and not the sensations.

Here was what the menu said on Nov 22, 2017,

Plum kambucha
Kir Breton
Fish & Chips
Geoduck, Sea Urchin & Citrus
Seeds & Grains
Caviar, Monkfish & Koji
Brioche & Housemade butter
Abalone, Cabbage & Smoked Creme
Matcha Tea Service
A-5 Wagyu, Porcini & Bearnaise
Harbison, Buckwheat & Truffle

Nopal Elixir
White chocolate avocado cremeux
Mesa Crisp
Sapote Ice Cream & Maracuya
Vanilla Bean Guanabana & Crystallized Tobacco Leaf
Recreation of Agave, Coconut & Iced Pulque
Mignardises

Think of the elixirs and tea services as brief rest stops in between the adventure courses. I had been experimenting with home brewing kambucha last year, but that only made me wonder how did Dominique manage to get kambucha to taste good, let alone great. Thanks to a recent trip to Mexico City, at least the dessert menu ingredients like Sapote and Guanabana were familiar. Harbison? Your Googling is as good as mine. Her pastry Chef Juan Contreras, a Los Angeles native, has been with her for a while but this was the first time we noticed an influence from south of the border.

The menu also showed a hand-drawn Ocotillo, a desert cactus. We had seen Ocotillo in bloom earlier that year during the trip to Joshua Tree National Park. From a distance, they look like red tipped 20 ft tall grass. When the earth is dry, the stems are leafless, grey and thorny. The leaves sprout whenever the earth is a little moist. I took that to be the representation for the dessert menu.

Some of the photos …

Kir Breton, this is the only repeat adventure from last two times. Champagne cocktail served in a white chocolate shell with creme de cassis on top.

Fish and chips

White chocolate avocado cremeux

Sapote Ice cream & Maracuya

Vanilla bean guanabana & crystallized tobacco leaf

Recreation of agave, coconut & iced pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste.

Written by locomotoring

December 30, 2018 at 10:46 pm

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.”

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Written by Sachin

October 5, 2016 at 1:40 am

Chantal Guillon – land of macroon wonder

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Chantal Guillon in Palo Alto Downtown Store front
Blood orange macaroons Guava macaroons

Written by locomotoring

June 29, 2015 at 3:41 am

Posted in Bay Area

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Freedom Wings

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Osmanthus in Oakland was our pick for lunch after the naturalization ceremony in Oakland’s Paramount Theater. Pizza is what we would have celebrated with but with the gluten intolerant microbiota, we decided on Asian cuisine instead. And a modern pan Asian restaurant to celebrate the occasion was perhaps even apt. Of the 1097 fellow Americans who took the oath representing 55% of world’s nations (yes, a whopping total of 109 nations!) over two third were formerly asian.

Oakland, thank you for supporting restaurants like Osmanthas (and Juhu Beach Club and Asmara and …) . And thank you for restoring the Paramount theater and hosting this celebration there. It is an important milestone in our lives and it is extraordinary to share the experience with 1000 others in this stunning old Art Deco theater. It was a solemn occasion with speeches and presidential videos (w/ camera flashes and twittering and cheering!).  Throw in 15 minutes of Charlie Chaplin on the big screen next time or even Walt Disney cartoons and lets us feel the true glory of this beautiful venue, Might even lull the crying babies!

Chicken wings lunch plate with honey ginger glaze.

Dry-fried chicken wings lunch plate with sichuan peppercorns

“Ms Grant” – a gin, ginger, lime and castilian bitters cocktail and “Plum Manhattan” – a rye, vermouth, umeshu, sour cherry bitter cocktail.

Also the basa fish with fermented black beans and “kiang ton” spareribs. Every dish was done expertly with the usual play of textures. Dishes were served with this delicious Japanese style pickled cabbage that elevated this simple vegetable to fine cuisine. The flavors in their fermented beans and sichuan peppers were memorable enough that my taste buds can recall with clarity after 24 hours!

Thinking about the wings now, I would say that only thing that could have made the chicken wings better is if they were Pok-Pok’s. But at the time, after a wonderful glass of Plummy Manhattan, I was happy.

Written by locomotoring

June 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Bay Area

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Starting 2015 with lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe

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Nibbled at the edges of this excellent sourdough, thus convincing ourselves that we were managing to stay on the right side of our gluten quota.

“Bob Cannard’s chicories with crème fraîche, ginger, roasted beets, and chives”. Ginger-y creme fraîche! Bless Alice Waters. Chez Panisse salads are to die for.

“Shaved winter vegetable salad with Dungeness crab and citrus vinaigrette”. Mildly citrus-y vinaigrette with perfectly crunchy carrot and fennel shavings.

“Fish and shellfish fritto misto with snap pea and cabbage salad, cress, and saffron mayonnaise”. The fries felt like eating cloud! What? Each bite was feather lite crispiness on the outside and melt in your mouth on the inside. Mayo was made even more indulgent by the addition of saffron. The tart cabbage salad with green and white florets of cauliflower and peppery baby cress provided an excellent counterpoint .

“Black truffle and ricotta cheese soufflé with roasted Belgian endive, cardoons and cress.” Don’t let the picture fool you, this soufflé was like a puff of air in its lightness. Cardoons and endive were both braised and roasted.

“Bittersweet chocolate custard with crème Chantilly and almond biscotti” with sightglass espresso.

Written by locomotoring

January 3, 2015 at 11:05 am

Saltwater and champagne by the bay

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Saltwater happened to be located right opposite our cottage.  We started our outdoor dinner with the raw deal where we were served the same variety of oysters raised in different waters – indeed they tasted different.

Salmon tartare

Smoked tuna with a celery, pine nut, berries and tangy creamy sauce

Back at our cottage to share a bottle of champagne.

Written by locomotoring

June 2, 2014 at 6:55 am

Posted in Bay Area, California, USA

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Marin and its happy cows

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Cowgirl is a great place to pick up local cheeses – some of them are such limited production and they don’t even make it to their Ferry Building location in San Francisco. 

Their cheeses are made with milk from happy Jersey organic cows from John Taverna’s dairy, located in Chileno Valley in Marin County. On this trip, we tried a couple new ones:

  • Inverness: Cowgirl describes this as full flavored, tangy lactic curd with a dense, creamy mouth feel. This is aged for two weeks to create a delicate version of St Marcellin style cheese.
  • St Pat: This is cowgirl’s spring seasonal cheese. This creamy semi-firm cheese is wrapped with nettle leaves that grow wild in Marin. Cowgirl describes this as mellow, soft, and full of smoky artichoke flavor.

Written by locomotoring

June 2, 2014 at 6:28 am

Meandering about Abbotts Lagoon trail

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This photo is from the Point Reyes lighthouse and if one kept walking on this beach in a straight line, one would reach Abbotts Lagoon. Attempt this crazy route only if you are equipped with heavy woolens on a summer afternoon.

Some kids were being kids while their parents had beached themselves nearby.

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Drakes Bay Oyster Shack

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In Bay Area, oyster on the half shell is usually $3 per piece. I am convinced that Oysters are calorie free food particularly when not accompanied by champagne. Hence, if it weren’t for the price, I think I would eat them by the dozens every day. Drakes Bay Oyster Shack is where you can get your oyster fix for half the price. They have been farming 4 generations at Point Reyes but we don’t know how long they will be allowed to continue. While they are, one hopes will continue to serve big fat plump oysters by the dozen. We landed up here towards the end of the day so all they had left were oysters doused in Bloody Mary mix – what a lovely start to the evening!

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Marin Sun Farms

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One can presumably spot myriad wild life at Point Reyes National Seashore but what we saw most were happy cows. I can only assume they are happy – rolling grasslands and other fellow cows as far as eyes can see. Occasional hikers and cold breeze can perhaps be considered the only hardship they endure.

Marin sun farms in a family owned pasture to fork farm with the restaurant right on Highway 1 at Point Reyes Station. Sea air and good hikes can easily prepare you for their fat and juicy steaks. Be prepared to wait an hour for your food, even if you are ordering just a burger, but the wait is well worth it.

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm

A brief sojourn at Inverness

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Cottage on the beach. Skylights and large windows dissolve the barrier between inside and outside.

If we had a kayak, we could launch from our doorstep. Blue Waters Kayaking were a mile away.

Put your feet up and stare the flecks of gold blow across the blue sky.

Watching the changes in sun, breeze, tide and sounds, you really feel moored like this old boat.

Early in the morning, sitting on the patio, drinking tea and looking out at the sun sparkling on the Bay.

Lazing out on the deck, body and soul disappears into the surrounding.

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Bay Area, California, USA

Roxy cafe in mission district of SFO

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Roxy is a small cafe on Market street, mission district of San Francisco. Great food and don’t be fooled by the sign on the door that says shakes and pastries. At the time we turned up, they had no pastries left. The one interesting thing about kitchen is they only have access to sous vide machines, blenders and torches. No stove and exhaust. A fantastic meal overall.

Potato coconut soup with purple cauliflower and prosciutto


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Written by locomotoring

February 17, 2014 at 6:15 am

Art of joy

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What makes people happy?

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Written by Som

June 24, 2013 at 6:18 am

Glamping in Big Sur

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Gateway – Internet on one side and beach on the other …

After 14 years of living in Bay Area and passing by Big Sur at least a dozen times, we finally decided to spend a weekend there. What can I say, better late than never? And thanks to airbnb, we found this wonderful cabin within a stone’s throw of Pffifer State Park. And what a cabin! Constructed from a winery barrel  that once held Burgundy in the foot hills of the Sierras, it offered the view of forest canopy, blue skies, blue sea,  stars at night, and most importantly a full kitchen, porcelain toilet and a hot bath. The weekend was unusually warm for May making the trip to the Andrew Molera State Park  more than just picture perfect. From the parking spot, the beach is a short 2 miles away that takes you through the camp site along the Big Sur river to where the river meets the ocean.
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Written by Som

June 3, 2013 at 2:09 am

Bombay Street Food in Oakland

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Juhu Beach Club

Juhu Beach Club in Oakland is all about very Indian flavors served up in a modern setting. If I didn’t know I were in Oakland, I would have thought I was eating in London.
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Written by Som

May 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

An incredible 747 flight …

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Looking at Endeavour being flown around on top of a 747 reminded me of a baby whale being accompanied by its mother. Following photos are some of my favorite NASA photos (source: NASA flickr photostream) during its flight around Bay Area.

Endeavour over Ames Research Center (ACD12-0146-018) Endeavour over the Golden Gate Bridge (ACD12-0146-008)
Endeavour over the Golden Gate Bridge (ACD12-0146-010) Endeavour Over The Golden Gate Bridge (ED12-0317-012)
Endeavour Over California's Bay Bridge (ED12-0317-011) Endeavour Fly Over California  (ED12-0317-008)

Written by locomotoring

September 29, 2012 at 6:16 am

Posted in Bay Area, California, San Francisco, USA

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Gaultier at de Young Museum

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Gaultier’s exhibition at de Young ended last weekend.  The dimly lit cavernous space of de Young felt appropriate for Gaultier’s over the top couture. Projected facial expressions on faces of the mannikins was a brilliant touch that animated the show and added to the sense of engagement.
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Written by locomotoring

August 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Old man and the sea, Pacific Heights

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Old man and his friend at an old age home in Pacific Heights

Old man and his friend at an old age home in Pacific Heights

Like Lonely Planet says, Pacific Heights is a wander and look operation. Most notable sights in this neighborhood are old Victorian style homes. Some gorgeous, most in 1-3 million dollar range. There are parks tucked away for you to catch a snooze or get beautiful shots of the painted ladies. From top of the hills, the bay beckons with its little sailboats. You can spot landmarks such as the Palace of Fine Arts and Golden Gate bridge.

If you go with the city guides, you will get a very detailed understanding of the architecture and evolution of these Victorian homes. The guides will also tell you exciting tales, for instance being mooned by Danielle Steel’s children. Wandering and look operations are hard to describe, who knows where you will choose to wander. I am going to provide a sample of what we found on our wanderings. A link to more photos and map is provided at the bottom of the post.

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Written by Som

June 27, 2010 at 1:57 am

Mission accomplished

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Courtyard of Mission Carmel

Courtyard of Mission Carmel

I have been meaning to do a circuit trip of missions around Bay Area. There are quite a few of these missions, so one can’t hope to cover all of them in a day. I have had eyes on a few – Carmel, Jolon and Soledad with possibility of San Miguel thrown in. Opportunity presented itself this memorial day weekend – so I packed some sandwiches, a few slices of the wonderfully moist and orange flavored cake ala Clotilde and, a thermos full of Chai. We left early on this Sunday summer morning – a perfect California day that held promises of a warm clear blue skied summer afternoon.

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Chocolate and coffee at Chocolatier Blue

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Chocolates from Chocolatier Blue

Chocolates from Chocolatier Blue

Chocolatier Blue is a new addition to our chocolate and coffee series. The earlier ones being Recchiuti, Fog City News, TchoXoX, Choco-la, ….

  • Location: Fourth Street, Berkeley
  • Coffee: I forgot to notice – chocolates were too pretty. There is a Peet’s coffee in the vicinity.
  • Chocolates: Chocolate tart and flavored Amedei chocolates – champagne and popcorn, grains of paradise (a west African aromatic and peppery spice), ….

Combine growing up on self-sustaining farms, training at Charlie Trotter’s and a passion for the best ingredients … and then add the sensitivity of an artist (this comes from the better half) – you end up with great tasting chocolates  so pretty that you wish you have a young love and Valentine’s day just around the corner.

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Written by locomotoring

March 14, 2010 at 12:28 am

Sex in the city

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Financial District, San Francisco

Financial District, San Francisco

Should have called it “Taste of Italy”….

Find out what Italian food and kinky sex has in common at Perbacco.

If you are going to the financial district of San Francisco, also check out:

  • For chocolate lovers – Coffee and chocolate at Fog City News (more)
  • A touch of nostalgia – on the old Barbary coast (more)

Written by locomotoring

March 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Presidio – An escape from within

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Officers quarters at Presidio, fog covered Golden Gate bridge in the backround

Officers quarters at Presidio, fog covered Golden Gate bridge in the backround

For me, San Francisco is a pretty city with great food. But, the traffic gets on my nerves. Before our household got a GPS assistant, going to the city invariably meant an argument – about taking the one way only turn, and not finding a parking that cost less than the meal. Now, at least we avoid taking the wrong turn and if we do, we are not pathetically lost.

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Written by Som

October 14, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Kailasa at Stern Grove Festival 2009

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Beer and music at Stern Grove

Beer and music at Stern Grove

We have recently returned from a short visit to Delhi  and are a little home sick. So a couple of weekends ago we decided to go to the Stern Grove Festival for Kailash Kher’s group Kailasa. The thought of soaking in the coolness of Stern Grove listening to  Tauba Tauba sounded fantastic after Delhi’s grueling heat and mugginess.

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Birds and Bees of Telegraph Hill

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Houses of Telegraph Hill

Houses of Telegraph Hill

Yes, the famous parrots. Not as many bees as there are flowers. And, last but not the least – the stairs – lots of them.

Telegraph Hill is where Coit Tower sits. You can’t miss Coit Tower if you are in San Francisco. You can see it from far and wide, standing out like a light house which it is not. Long time back, and for San Francisco, 150 years is a long time ago, Telegraph Hill used to be a bald hill. Because of the line of visibility, the location was used as a semaphore line. The role of the obervatory was to note the type of shipping vessel crossing Golden Gate Strait and let the town folk know. Even now, in spite of the dense foliage on the hill, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge.

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The very edge of San Francisco

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Sutro baths from Cliff House

Sutro baths from Cliff House

What have we got at the edge of San Francisco? Sutro baths of course. Our very own modern ruins. And fog. I doubt a hundred years have changed the course of San Francisco’s weather. So, who built a public bath house on a generally cold and often foggy beach? A rich dude, of course. In 1896, Mr. Sutro, who owned most of San Francisco’s western front, built an indoor swimming pool, in fact a set of seven swimming pools, at a cost of over a million dollars. Why? I guess, because he could.

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