Saturday, June 27, 2009


Jeremy is off for a summer in Europe and I am so envious of him.

We had a quick visit over breakfast the other day at Katy's Korner in San Ramon.

I'd never been there and his breakfast burrito and my Denver omelet were wonderful...large servings too...we both took home about half to enjoy another time.

Great Choice!

See you in September, Jeremy

Friday, June 26, 2009


Last month we combined our traditional Mother's Day pizza outing to Skipolini's in Clayton with Ted's birthday, albeit without Ted.

Last week on Father's Day, Frank was visiting us, so Louie included him in the Father's Day pizza night at Skip's again. Louie has been dining at Skip's since he was a pup...he's always welcome on their outdoor deck.

We shared a big salad and a Mushroom, Olive, and Artchoke Pizza.

Since Frank hadn't been in Clayton in awhile, we walked down Main Street after dinner. This part of town still looks like the old West Town it was when we first discovered it in the 1970s. But, the town is a bit more gentrified now. In the good old days, I would not dare to even walk by the Clayton Club Saloon unescorted.

Today it is still something of a gungy hangout, but now, they even greeted Louie as we passed by. The Clayton Club Saloon dates back to 1873.

For those who find themselves in Clayton over the 4th of July, there are all kinds of festivities going on pretty much all day, starting with a big parade.


Last Saturday, it was our turn to host our cooking group. I may have mentioned before that 5 of the 6 of us all worked together at that big construction and engineering firm in San Francisco. The one "outsider" is J of WC.

As has been our tradition for about 30 years, the host makes the main course and the others bring a first course and dessert. We rarely have a theme and, so far, we haven't all shown up with spaghetti. The one time I do remember having a theme was at our get together right after Julia Child died...we decided that we'd each prepare a dish from one of Julia's cookbooks.

We cook together about every 3 or 4 months, moving from house to house.

And so, our evening at our house started with drinks, hummus, homemade onion dip, chips, and raw veggies. Oh, the host also provides some little munchies for before dinner. Since Louie is so fond of cocktail hours...the coffee table is just the right height for him to help himself to whatever is on it...he spent the time in his living room pen, safely observing.

A & J of Mendo made the first course: What I think is the BEST Celery Root Remoulade that I have ever tasted. It was garnished with a fresh tomato salad and sliced cucumbers. The Celery Root Remoulade is from a Barefoot Contessa (In Garten) recipe, with a few "secret" variations by A & J. I have found her recipe on the Food Network web site and plan to give it a try, with or without the variations.

The main course was Chili Lime Wild Sockeye Salmon, Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad, and Orzo Salad with Broccoli and Tomatoes. I "cheated" by buying the salmon already cooked at Whole Foods. They introduced the Chili Lime Salmon at the beginning of the Wild Salmon season this year and it is so tasty, I don't think I could ever do better on my own.

The Caribbean Sweet Potato Salad recipe is on the internet; I used all sweet potatoes and no russets (We are limiting simple carbs chez moi these days.).

The Orzo Salad recipe is on Whole Foods' web site; I used whole wheat orzo, to avoid those simple carbs. It is available in bulk at Whole Foods. Since I made the Orzo Salad beforehand, I served it at room temperature, rather than warm.

C & F, the Piedmontese of the group, made Ice Cream Sandwiches using Graham Crackers and Sorbet. They wrapped each sandwich individually...Martha Stewart would be proud of them...making for an impressive presentation.

We had our choice of Lemon Sorbet or Chocolate Sorbet fillings. I chose the chocolate one and there was also a coating of chocolate on the Graham Crackers.

What a yummy ending to what we all decided was a perfect summer dinner, as well as a special visit with longtime friends.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I'm a big fan of CB2, Crate & Barrel's new home furnishings store which is a bit trendier and less expensive than the Crate & Barrel stores. I consider CB2 in the same category as IKEA, but just a little bit more upscale and with furnishings that are already assembled.

To celebrate the arrival of Summer, I spent my economic stimulus money for 2009 on some yellow chairs that I had seen on the cover of the CB2 catalog a few months ago. When I went to order them through the online store, I discovered that they were marked down! This left me with a little extra money which I used to buy a turquoise side table.

These chairs and table are for one of my upstairs balconies. When I just checked the web site to see if they are still being sold, I discovered, that the chairs are marked down another $20 each. I am not sure if the table has been further reduced or not, but they are a really great bargain for cheerful sturdy furniture.

Friday night, J, L, and I celebrated the arrival of summer and our new outdoor furniture with hors d'oeuvres and sparkling wine on the balcony.

Happy Summer, All!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We attended our last San Francisco Symphony performance for this season...Berg's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra and Schubert's Mass No. 6 in E-Flat Major, D.950. Gil Shaham was the guest violin soloist. MTT was conducting.

We started the evening with dinner at Hayes Street Grill.

We've been dining regularly at Hayes Street Grill since it opened in San Francisco 30 years ago. We've never been disappointed and whenever I am asked for a recommendation for a fish restaurant in San Francisco, I always recommend Hayes Street.

Through the years, they've kept the formula simple: several fresh grilled fish every day, served with a side of French Fries and your choice from about half a dozen sauces. Their menu also includes several other fish dishes, a nice selection of first courses, and desserts. It is at Hayes Street that I first tasted Crème Brûlée and it remains on the dessert menu to this day...try as I might, I cannot duplicate this dessert at home, but am happy to enjoy it at the restaurant.

So, we started with a shared Grilled Squid and Artichoke Salad.

Jim order Petrale Sole

and I chose Cataplana, a Portuguese Seafood Stew.

Both dishes were perfection. Even though J is watching his sugar consumption, he could not keep his eyes off the huge Hot Fudge Sundaes that kept passing by our table...while I prefer the Crème Brûlée for dessert, their sundae, made with housemade hot fudge is his weakness. He mentioned to our waiter how much he wishes he could have a sundae and the waiter took pity on him and made up a mini version for him.

Is this a happy man, or what?

Then, it was on to Davies Symphony Hall. The lobby was busy with music lovers enjoying drinks, light meals, and conversation.

At intermission, it was still light outside and I noticed how pretty City Hall across the street looked through the lobby windows.

As for the concert, I knew we were going to be musically challenged when MTT started the evening by talking about the Berg piece and its 12-tone scale. He played several examples and it all made sense, but once the piece started, I could not detect what he has described. The Schubert was more comprehensible and magnificent.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Today is Day One for the iPhone 3G S

Last July I was in line, well before sunrise, to purchase the second generation of Apple's iPhone, the iPhone 3G.

Today, less than a year later, a faster more capable less expensive iPhone, the 3G S model, went on sale at Apple and AT&T stores at 7 a.m.

But, I wasn't there. Despite the nifty new features, I cannot justify replacing last year's least not just yet. Yesterday, I was, however, among the first to install the latest iPhone upgrade which gives me some of the new, cut & past, and voice recorder, to name a few. But, I will need the new model to take advantage of Voice Control, a camera with focus features, a camcorder, more memory, and a faster speed.

So, I went about my morning as usual, but by noon, I could not resist being part of the "action." I had to see what was going on at the Walnut Creek Apple Store. So off I went.

There was a line outside, but not a line around the block, as was the case last year.

For this iPhone, customers could reserve one in advance to assure getting one on Day One, thus the shorter lines. But, as is typically the case, there are always those who don't get their act together to reserve in advance, and so there were several hopeful customers, patiently waiting in line outside the store, on the chance that not all the iPhones were reserved.

Last year, Apple passed out bottles of water to keep those in line cool and hydrated. I am not sure about the water, but this time around, those in line were under the shelter of very nice black umbrellas, provided for use by the store.

At 12:20 p.m., over 5 hours after the store opened, an employee came out to announce that they were out of iPhones for today. This lucky customer clutched his bag a bit tighter as he left the store while the announcement of no more phones was being made.

It looked like they were taking the names of those who wanted to reserve one from the next shipment. And, those in line were invited to return tomorrow.

Of course, the City of Walnut Creek benefited by the release of the new iPhone by issuing parking tickets to the cars in front of the store that had exceeded the time on their parking meters, probably because their owners were inside making their purchase or were still in line and didn't want to risk losing their place.

I am already starting to save my pennies for next year's model.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


It was so much fun a month ago, I had to do it again!

Last week, Marcia was in town and we were looking for a place to meet in San Francisco. Remembering how much I enjoyed my recent walk in Crissy Field, followed by lunch at Green's, I suggested that's what we do.

Walking along the paths in Crissy Field, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge in one direction and views of the downtown San Francisco skyline in the other direction, I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

Crissy Field was originally an airfield in the U.S. Army's Presidio Base. It became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area when the Presidio was closed in the 1990s. In 2001, it reopened as a park with an expansive wildlife habitat, a tidal marsh, a beach, and a simply wonderful place to walk, run, and bicycle, while enjoying the outdoors and the spectacular views.

We started our walk from the Visitor Center and walked for an hour or so, well past the Warming Hut but not quite to Fort Point.

Both the Warming Hut and the Visitor Center have small cafés that serve beverages and light meals and snacks. The Warming Hut is a great place to stop for coffee or hot chocolate on a cool foggy San Francisco day.

Our next destination was Green's restaurant in Fort Mason. We could have walked to Fort Mason, but would have needed much more time than we had allowed; it's a pretty long walk, but all the paths are on flat ground and make for very easy walking.

If I haven't mentioned it in other posts, Green's, which opened in 1979, is San Francisco's first "gourmet" vegetarian restaurant. Actually, it is Green's that was the first high profile vegetarian restaurant in the United States. It's dining room is architecturally beautiful and looks out onto the Marina and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Initially, Green's operated under the auspices of the San Francisco Zen Center, with all the employees being Zen students. To this day, Green's continues to maintain a connection with the Zen center, but not exclusively. The Zen Center's Green Gulch Farms in Marin County continues to provide the restaurant with its organic produce. Even non-vegetarians enjoy the creative food at Green's so much, that they don't even notice that there no meat, fish or poultry is served.

Marcia had a Green Salad with Cheese.

My choice was the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich. Those tiny round objects in the garnish on my plate are the tiniest potatoes I have ever seen/eaten. Just looking at them, I thought they were olives.

I can't wait for my next visit to both of these places.

Monday, June 15, 2009


It is not officially summer yet, but yesterday I harvested my first tomato of summer...yes, that's the red thing that J is trying to devour!

To celebrate, we had BLT's for dinner. Yum! There is nothing like fresh veggies from the garden!

Looking forward to a summer of Panzanella, Tomato and Basil Salads, and, of course, many more BLTs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I had the pleasure of joining three emeritus law professors for lunch today at Eccolo in Berkeley's bustling Fourth Street district.

Mort and Dick arrived by Amtrak train, which makes a stop right behind the Fourth Street shopping area. George and I, who live closer than the other two, drove from our respective areas.

It was Mort, whose wife is from Italy, who originally told me that Eccolo's Roman-Style Fried Artichokes are the "real thing." Since then, I always order them when I dine at Eccolo. We started with them.

Then, I mentioned that I've been tempted by the Tuscan French Fries but have never tried them. Mort said they are not necessarily the "real thing." Real thing or not, the guys were game to try them. We ordered them for more munching before and during lunch. They were excellent and worth the indulgence.

George and Dick both ordered the warm Grilled Steak Salad, but wound up with one Steak Sandwich and one Steak Salad.

Rather, that sending the sandwich back, they agreed to share, after negotiating to also share the housemade potato chips that accompanied the sandwich.

Mort order the Pan-Fried Halibut with Sautéed Zucchini.

His serving looked a little small for the plate size and he agreed that it was not the best thing he's eaten here.

My choice was the Grilled Squid Salad with White Beans and a Pesto Dressing. You can't see them, but the White Beans are under the Frisée Greens.

Lots of interesting and lively conversation, especially between the other three who were longtime colleagues. And, good food as well.

After lunch, Mort and I went to the Café Rouge Meat Market, at the back of the restaurant, where he bought some meat to carry home.

Then we browsed in the Pasta Shop Food Market adjacent to Café Rouge, where Mort purchased some Tuscan cheeses and some Italian Chocolate.

We also looked through CB2 and stopped at Peet's for Jasmine Lime Ice Tea. Meanwhile, Dick headed over to The Gardener where he bought some rocks.

A lovely, leisurely afternoon all around.