Tag: food

Travelogue Day 5 – That’s a Wrap, People

by on Jun.12, 2010, under career, Entertainment, The World

I’m going to write this one before bed rather than after as tomorrow will likely be packed with, well, packing, checking out, and making my way to the airport for my long trip home.  It has been a busy week and I look forward to the brief respite coming ahead (emphasis on brief).

Today went smoothly.  I got more substantial information out of the conference sessions presented today (I also found that standing rather than sitting helped prevent ennui-induced sleepiness).  Not that I’m surprised, but this conference has affirmed that I’m not good at listening to people talk for long periods of time nor am I especially extroverted.  I found that I often relied upon my colleague (who frankly is more entrenched with the software at hand anyway) to take the lead – I would find myself standing nearby as he struck up various conversations with vendors, hosts, and other attendees.  I would occasionally engage in these discussions, but not often initiate them.  In truth it doesn’t especially bother me to recognize this either – my primary focus this week was training and I don’t foresee myself joining user groups or contributing to forums on such matters.  Sure there is the networking aspect, but I doubt that I’d be looking to move to Sydney, Vancouver, or Poland for my next career step (well, maybe Vancouver – that place seems pretty awesome, as did the dude from EA that we met from there).

Once the sessions were done as we all stopped loitering around the foyer outside the conference rooms, my colleague and I worked out dinner arrangements with some of our other colleagues from the SF office (thanks btw, to my uncle and my friend who recommended a dining venue).  After meandering little Italy and parts of northern SF waiting for our party to coalesce (managing to buy some fudge somewhere in the mix of things), we eventually made it to this very interesting Italian restaurant called The Stinking Rose – a moderately prices, but elegantly trimmed establishment that seems to specialize in all things garlic.  From their famous appetizer of bagna calda (garlic cloves with anchovies stewed in olive oil and butter) to their garlic ice cream dessert, no dish is complete without garlic involved.  Unfortunately before we made it through appetizers, one of our party had to call it a night (I think he drink wine too quickly before getting food in his system), but we soldiered on through various starters and succulent main dishes.  None of us had the room or were brave enough to attempt the garlic ice cream, but I have a feeling we would have enjoyed it under different circumstances.

So tonight I spend my last night of quiet hotel solitude.  I will be sad to go since it seems I was just getting adjusted to being here.  I’ll be more sad that I will only have a day at home before I hit the road once more for another conference week away.  Given that I will be readjusting to eastern time and I will be sharing a hotel room next week, my travelogue may not be as in depth or as frequent.  But only time will tell.  Now if you will excuse me, there is an empty king-sized bed beckoning to me.

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Travelogue Day 3 – Endulgence

by on Jun.10, 2010, under family, health, The World

Finally I’m getting on track with my sleep … sort of.  After barely staying awake through the second training session yesterday afternoon, I came to my room to collapse for an hour nap.  This helped me get my second wind and stay up until midnight (more typical timing for me).  I still found myself awake at 5 AM, but I belligerently stayed in bed until my alarm went off.  As a result, this post is now coming later in the day than the last two.  I’d say that I’m sorry about this, but I’m really not.

So as part of my efforts to enjoy my trek, I’m making a point of sampling various local cuisines whenever I can.  Since the conference is providing a number of meals for us and I have a decent meal stipend, this is working out fairly well.  I’ve only eaten from the hotel restaurant once so far – apparently the head chef is a contestant on The Next Food Network Star. If the eggs Benedict with crab meat I had for breakfast yesterday was any indication,  then I can see why.  The other samplings I’ve tried while out here include an elegant seafood dinner on Pier 39 (complete with a view of Alcatraz), breakfast at Mel’s Diner, and Jack-in-the-Box (we were aiming for a Japanese sushi place that came well recommended, but they were too busy so we settled).  The catered food so far has been pretty impressive as well – many including well prepared fresh and local produce.  I haven’t planned out the remainder of my dining experiences for the week, but I am trying to skirt the line of adventurous and cautious (I’d rather not end up sick for the rest of the week).

While I am seeming to get my sleep schedule adjusted, I somewhat dread becoming completely acclimated as I will just have to shift back in a few days.  I definitely think that if I plan a vacation out this way anytime in the future (which I’m strongly inclined to do), I will pad it on both ends.  Though I may have to wait until the kids are older (I can just picture Grasshopper bouncing on me in bed at 4 AM ready to take on the world).

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Food Horizons

by on Apr.05, 2010, under family, health, parenthood

I was always a finicky eater.  As a kid I probably disliked more foods than I liked.  I would eat spaghetti with butter and grated cheese rather than sauce.  I wouldn’t eat anything that contained onions, peppers, mushrooms, or beans.  I’ve gotten better over time both through some forceful nudging by my parents and my own expanded spirit of food exploration.  And at this point there are very few things I won’t eat (though I’m still not a huge fan of peppers or onions – mostly a texture thing, though – I don’t mind the flavors).

But now I have kids of my own, and the last thing I want to do is to pass my own food aversions on to them.  So I’ve made a point of exposing them gradually to a variety of foods in these formative years and trying not let my own food preferences influence their own.  I’m currently working on gradually breaking down Cricket’s spice aversion (she is learning that spices aren’t always spicy, and can make foods tastier), and exposing them to some vegetable options my own parent never pushed on us (e.g., brussel sprouts).  I also recently fooled her (and myself) into eating mushrooms by finely chopping some and replacing a 3rd of the meat in a lasagna with them (I also added a good amount of spinach – it was quite good and I didn’t tell her until after she was finishing a second helping).

Grasshopper is a bit of a different nut t o crack, though.  He will actually eat a number of veggies without a problem.  And whereas Cricket I need to force to drink milk every day, Grasshopper will chug it day and night.  But he is not a big fan of meat.  This is not truly a bad thing – there is nothing wrong with a diet of mostly produce as long as the proteins get in there somewhere.  He is only 3, so I figure it is a phase he will eventually (at least partially) outgrow.  I can now add another non-meat protein source to the list of things he likes, though.  My mom came to visit for the weekend, and due to her own digestive health she came with groceries.  Upon departure, we were left with two cartons of Silk soy milk (one chocolate, one vanilla).  I’m not really a fan and neither is my wife, but I’d hate to just toss it.  So as an experiment, I gave some to Grasshopper the next time he asked for ‘choca-milk’ – he guzzled it down as if it were no different.  And both last night and this morning, he asked for a cup of ‘soil milk’.

I’m sure my kids will develop their own tastes and food aversions – we all have them (I know I still do).  I’ll continue to fight the important food fights (e.g., wanting a treat every time the ice cream man drives down the street).  But luckily so far neither of them are too finicky (at least not as finicky as I was).

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Tiny Belgian Cabbages?

by on Nov.06, 2009, under health, home & stuff

I’m a foodie.  I like to eat, I like to experiment with cooking, and when there is nothing else to watch the Food Network is my natural time filler.  And one thing that I’ve noticed on the Food Network lately is a number of shows highlighting brussel sprouts as a side dish and doing anything but steaming/boiling them.  Due to my parents’ shared dislike of them, I never had either the pleasure or misfortune of eating them as a kid and thus far it hasn’t really come up as an adult.

Until now.

After noting yet another show where oven-broiled sprouts was on the menu, I mentioned to my wife that it might be interesting to try it (she HAS had them, but it had been decades).  Fast forward to the next day and my wife is IM’ing me at work to let me know that dinner will be chicken and brussel sprouts.  Fast forward another hour later and I’m home with a full plate including a nice juicy chicken breast and a generous helping of slightly charred little balls of green.

I have to say that I did in fact like them a lot.  They tasted like little grilled cabbages – not too pungent, not too bland, just enough salt and a slightly nutty flavor.  On the down side, my kids did not seem nearly as thrilled with them (which is a bit odd as they both LOVE broccoli and cauliflower).  So the likelihood of this veggie being in regular rotation is fairly low.  Ah well.  At least I gave it a shot.

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A Throwback to Good Taste

by on May.03, 2009, under environment, health

I am partaking in a flavor blast from the past, and I hope it is a sign of beverage future.  Specifically I’m currently drinking a 20 fl. oz. bottle of Pepsi Throwback.  This seemingly retro beverage is a version of Pepsi made with natural sugar (I assume as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup).

This choice in beverages was no accidental happenstance, but a conscious choice to taste-test this product.  I first became aware of it a few days ago while watching NBC’s Thursday-night comedy line-up.  Pepsi had this spot for it during The Office that was all retro-ish (complete with some Isaac Hayes knock-off singing its praises).  By the time the commercial was over, I knew I would have to try it.

I know what you are thinking – that I am some sort of uber-gullible consumer that can be wooed by a catchy jingle and a shallow promise.  Not so!  See, I have in the past years become a strong opponent to artificial food products in favor of more natural/organic/raw foods.  And if I was mildly wealthy, I’d certainly be spending a good amount of that money buying only the most healthy and natural foods and drinks available.  But being as I don’t have the time or the means to do so, I make the conscious purchasing decisions I can afford.  And among the items that I avoid as much as possible are any sweetners other than natural sugars – no aspartame, no sucralose, no acesulfame potassium, no Stevia, and no high-fructose corn syrup (the latter being the most difficult to avoid).  Most of this battle tends to revolve around beverages – specifically sodas – as it is somewhat easier to find food items that are more natural and what you can’t find you can make (to a degree).  But I’m a working stiff and I’ve never been a big fan of straight water, so I try to find drinks that I like that come as close to natural as I can without costing too much.

So, as I said, I was quite eager not only to see how this new/retro Pepsi product tasted, but also to see it succeed in the market.  While the commercial seemed to suggest that it was a limited time item, I for one hope that it is the start of a trend.  See, there is a rift right now in America between health-consciousness and convenience.  Those who want to swear off such artificial items as those found in a regular Pepsi have to look harder to find them and then usually pay a premium for them when they do.  But if more of the big companies (hint-hint) started to make healthy variations on their products, then by simple market penetration they would be more accessible.  And such accessibility will lead to higher conversion and a tide of greater demand for such products.  But no matter how many hints I drop, the best way to point this out to the big food-makers is to show them there is a market.  So I for one plan to buy as much of this stuff as I can and I encourage all of you to consider doing so as well.

How does Pepsi Throwback taste, you ask?  It tastes like Pepsi – not particularly more or less sweet.  Maybe even a little cleaner taste than a standard Pepsi.  It is also satisfying to turn the bottle around and see only 6 ingredients: carbonated water, sugar, caramel color, phosporic acid, caffeine, and natural flavor.  I’ve got a couple of oz. left.  And when I’m done, I plan to recycle the bottle.  It does kind of feel like a sip of history, but not necessarily in the sense they may have intended.

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