Saturday, May 30, 2009


Today was the Walnut Creek Aquanuts annual Night of Champions synchronized swim show and fund raising auction.

Even though the event is now held in the afternoon, it retains its original name of "Night of Champions."

We rarely miss this show since the price of admission gives us lots of food from local restaurants, a great show, and a chance to shop while supporting the team.

I have a special place in my heart for the Aquanuts. They swim at the same pool where I work out with the Walnut Creek Masters Team. Over the years, I've gotten to know many of the synchro girls and am in awe of what amazing athletes they are. I am such a team "groupie" that I went to the Olympics in Atlanta (1996) just to be in the stands to cheer them on (the won Gold that year).

The team is now fairly young, since those swimmers from 1996 and 2002 have gone on to other pursuits, although several of them continue to coach the Aquanuts. So, there has not been any Olympic gold in awhile, but, the swimmers are performing well in other national and international competition, and, who knows what the next Olympics might bring?

The Night of Champions Show is their show where they perform for the public the routines that they have performed in recent competitions.

The swimmers are grouped by age, starting with 10 and Under and going up to the Seniors who are mostly high school or college age. Each group performed at least one number.

Mark Ibanez, sports reporter and anchor from KTVU Channel 2 was the auctioneer for the live auction. He has been the auctioneer for several years and has his special way of inspiring the highest possible bids, all to support the Aquanuts.

The weather was perfect for the show: sunny but not too warm. A delightful afternoon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SFMOMA and more

Today, I was fortunate to attend a media preview of the "Gerogia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: Natural Affinities" exhibit which will be showing at the SFMOMA May 30 – September 7. We also had the opportunity to view the Robert Frank "Looking In: Robert Frank's 'The Americans'" exhibit, which runs through June 27.

I got into town almost an hour early, It was a glorious day and the Financial District looked beautiful...a combination of San Francisco's old and new architecture against perfectly blue skies.

I decided to take a little walk around Yerba Buena Gardens, taking advantage of the view of the front of SFMOMA

and enjoying the Heart sculptures that are part of the art in the Gardens.

As is often the case on my wanderings through San Francisco, I spotted something that I've never seen before: what looks like a large sea creature, atop the W Hotel, next door to SFMOMA!

The Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams exhibit is an interesting pairing of the works of both of these artists, who were friends and admirers of one another's work.

Georgia O'Keeffe painted scenes from nature, particularly from nature in New Mexico. Ansel Adams photographed nature.

These are some of the pieces that particularly caught my attention.

"Waterfall II"

"Sand Dune, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico"

"Black and Purple Petunias"

"Dogwood Blossoms"

"Black Mesa Landscape"

Two O'Keeffe works, "Clam and Mussel" and "Red and Pink Rocks."

And, hung side by side, Adams' "Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico" and O'Keeffe's " Ranchos Church No. 1"

The Robert Frank exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of Frank's publication, The Americans. All 83 photographs are exhibited in the order they appear in the book. It's a dramatic exhibit, well worth seeing before it closes in another month. These are a few highlights from it:

After my morning at the museum, I met Harriet for lunch at Mixt Greens, which is across the street from 555 Mission Street. She chose this popular create-your-own salad place partly because we both like salad lunches and partly because of the public art in front of 555 Mission.

Jonathan Borofsky is the artist who created the human sculptures and Ugo Rondionone is responsible for the moonrise sculputres.

Mixt Greens is a place where you have a choice of selecting the ingredients of your salad or of ordering one of their creations.

For my first time here, I decided to order one of their creations, "The Dagwood," composed of greens,roasted red peppers, roasted zucchini, roasted portabella mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, garlic croutons, lemon herb vinaigrette. It cost $8.45 and was a very substantial lunch.

I got home late in the afternoon and had just made myself a cup of tea, when our friend Palmer and his French Bulldog pup, Astro, stopped by for a visit and some playtime with Louie.

My day ended with going to dinner with J at Chow Lafayette.

We both ordered the day's special sandwich, today a Chicken Cutlet with tomatoes and broccoli rabe. The daily sandwich special, priced at about $10, is a meal on a plate and includes your choice of soup, fries, or salad. We both chose the Broccoli soup.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Tuesday night, Jimmy Buffett made his pass through the Bay Area with his 2009 tour: SummerZcool. He was just in the area last Fall, but that did not stop MA and me from heading out to spend the evening with him.

For the first time since 1991, he performed at the Concord Pavilion, now called Sleep Train Pavilion, but even Jimmy still calls it by its original name.

The tour name is exceptionally clever with a double entendre...summer's cool/summer school! Jimmy's "theme" was a spoof on summer school, but one that could be enjoyed by all of us "students" and we all passed...I will suspect some passed out, particularly the older man a few rows in front of us who danced up and down like an Engergizer Bunny through the whole show.

So the evening started with a photo shoot of us in our Parrot Head garb.

We brought a picnic dinner from Kinder's...sandwiches, salads, baked beans...and homemade fresh fruit crisp from home.

Big drinkers that we are, we shared a large glass of Jimmy's Landshark Lager beer...really tasty...there will be more in our future.

As always, there was a line for tee shirts and a line for beer.

Then, it was show time. These few shots will hopefully give you a sense of the fun on the 2 1/2 hour SummerZcool concert!

Until the next time, Jimmy...

Monday, May 18, 2009

K & N were in town from Boston yesterday and we met them for dinner at Slanted Door. Why did I choose Slanted Door for out-of-towners? Well, this is a restaurant that continues to get a lot of hype for its fusion Vietnamese food. Its location in the Ferry Building, overlooking the Bay is lovely. Also, it is easy to get to from downtown San Francisco and easy to get to for me, coming into town from the East Bay.

I know K & N are adventurous (K and I go back to high school days) and I thought they would enjoy dining here. We had a wonderful evening.

Executive Chef Charles Phan was born in Vietnam and came, with his family, to San Francisco in 1977. Because his parents were each working two jobs, Phan, during his high school years, became the one to prepare dinner for his family of 10. His inspiration came from his mother's French/Vietnamese cooking style. I like to take out-of-towners to restaurants with a local angle. Chef Phan's approach is to create traditional Vietnamese dishes using local, sustainable, organic ingredients.

J & I got into town early and enjoyed the exceptionally warm weather by walking around the Ferry Building. As you can see, people were dining outdoors and just walking around, enjoying the glorious day. We saw several container ships heading in and out of the Port of Oakland, under the Bay Bridge.

Slanted Door begins dinner service at 5:30 p.m. Within half an hour of opening for dinner, its large dining room was full.

While we visited and looked over the menu, we sipped an excellent Loimer Riesling, a dry Riesling from Austria. I like Rieslings with Asian food and so does Chef Phan. The wine list features more than two dozen Rieslings, both dry and sweet. I relied on our waiter's suggestion for a moderately=priced dry Riesling. It was perfect for us.

Since most people share dishes at Slanted Door, we decided to each choose a main dish and to share two appetizers and two desserts.

Our appetizers were Raw Oysters from the Northwest (K wanted to taste the difference from East Coast oysters) and Slanted Door Spring Rolls. I missed taking a photo of the oysters and of one of the desserts, Vanilla Crème Brûlée, but have photos here of all our other dishes.

Our dinner was one of the best and most interesting meals I've had in San Francisco. In addition to enjoying the different flavors and perfect food preparation, I was especially impressed with the outstanding service. Even though there was a line of people waiting to be seated, we were never hurried. Our dishes were served one at a time and timed such that after we had sampled a bit of one dish, the next dish was brought to the table. This could not have been a better way to enjoy a meal with longtime friends.

Slanted Door Spring Rolls (shrimp, pork, and mint in soft rice noodle wrap, with peanut dipping sauce):

Day Boat Scallops (pan-seared, served with spinach and spicy pineapple-coconut sauce):

Shaking Beef (cubed filet mignon, cooked to your preferred "doneness", with watercress and red onion and served with a lime dipping sauce):

Cellophane Noodles with Dungeness Crab Meat:

Caramelized Tiger Prawns (with garlic, onions and chili sauce):

Beignets with Cinnamon Sabayon:

Slanted Door is open every day for lunch and dinner. Reservations are advised but drop-ins can eat at the bar or cocktail lounge as space is available. If you do find yourself in the neighborhood without a reservation, it won't hurt to stop in to see if there might be a table could luck out as one of my friends recently did at lunch hour; she was seated almost immediately.