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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

30MP: Chia Mange

Would you adopt this cat?

Part of the 30 Mornings Project.


Monday, January 30, 2006

30MP: Hazy Shade of Winter

Part of the 30 Mornings Project


PS I'm totally mesmerized by this "Radio Ga Ga" performance.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jar O' Lard

My baby...

It will be ready in a week or so...if I want. Or I can eat it several months down the road.

I just felt proud and thought I'd share.


Belinda. If you ever click onto this site (and I know how infrequent you surf the web), can you please call me? You've changed or lost your telephone number...again! I called and got some crazy woman, who immediately Star 69'd me and left a breathy pause on my answering machine.

Lastly: "Gung Hay Fat Choy", duh!! Although, I'm not too stoked it's the Year of the Dog, what with all of these damn pit bulls and their obnoxious "guardians", and you know there are more dogs in SF than there are kids, and really, I can barely stand a crotch-sniffing, drooling, obsequious, smelly canine even though I've had dogs all my life. Rocky, Girl, Judge...I remember you.

But Year of the Cat? How long must I wait?

Speedball and Argenta want to know!


PS Fans of Bacon Press: go *here* to learn more about the video I linked to earlier today. I think Hard Gay is my new hero.

Sushi Trucks Are The New Fridays

What that means, I don't know.

But once there was a lonely little Sushi Truck who lived in a community that was predominantly Mexican. Though his Mexican parents loved and raised him as one of their own, he just couldn't help feeling like he was different.

He was different. He was Japanese.

At school he was picked on as being the "other". Everywhere he went or was seen, he stood out: the mall, at Quinceaneras, the high school yearbook.

Sushi Truck tried to hide his differences by dressing in baggy clothes and saying "for real?" often and at times that didn't make sense. Once he thought of changing his name to El Sushi Truck, but that just sounded all wrong.

Then one day, while cruising the internet, he happened upon this video.

To say it was cathartic is an understatement. It was life changing.

Then, Sushi Truck did something he never thought he had the courage to do.

He came out.

First to his family, then to his friends. Of course, they knew all along. Yet still, tears were shed, perhaps happy over his decision to face up to who he was/is, perhaps a little sadness over their little boy becoming a man, and perhaps a little worry over how the community was going to react.

Sushi Truck knew his decision could be dangerous, but he knew that once out of the closet, he could never go back and be a Happy Sushi Truck.

To make life easier, he moved to the City by the Bay in order to live among the small, but influential, community of Japanese Sushi Boats. While they accepted him immediately as one of their own, Sushi Truck never turned his back on his Mexican upbringing.

Today, Happy Sushi Truck dispenses to-go, affordable sushi, like this Cal-Roll and Tekka sushi for $4.95.

There are days when Happy Sushi Truck misses the life he knew, and occasionally after work, he'll take long, quite, and introspective drives through East Oakland or maybe on down to Crow's Landing Road. He'll think of all of the sad and happy times he had growing up, and maybe get a little morose when thinking about how much he misses his family. But then something suddenly happens: he realizes where his true home is.

It is here, in San Francisco. And this makes him happy.

In fact, he is the happiest Happy Sushi Truck I know.


30MP: Time To Clean The Kitchen

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Rarely and late at night, in desperation for something different and easy, I'll jot on down to Shan Indian/Pakistani restaurant for something quick.

It feels kinda like a last minute crack deal.

Shan has been around now for several years, but it use to be that the closest South Asian restaurant in our part of town was a place called Mehfil. Now there are three South Asian restaurants within just a few blocks of each other.

We've never been particularly fond of Shan's food, opting to spend a little more at Mehfil. Back in the day, Mehfil not only had excellent food, but excellent prices as well. Unfortunately, that changed around a year or two ago when they jacked up their prices, perhaps due to becoming better known in the SF foodie scene, or perhaps due to more foot traffic from the Marriott hotel across the street.

However, because Shan is logistically closer to where I live and cheap enough to make it more enticing, I sometimes opt for biting the bullet (or in Shan's case, big hunks of cardamom pods and whole cloves left in everything).

Actually, Shan's food isn't that bad, but it's also nothing to write Mumbai about. Still, when I use to read Chowhound, I was always astonished at the numerous folks who raved about the food at Shan.

"Were they insane", I asked? Were they on crack (it is that kind of neighborhood)?

I generally would reply as such, which of course ended up with my post *magically* deleted. Of course I was much nicer in other posts, which were also abruptly moved or deleted for no reason. So these days, I've made it my life's mission not to support unaccountable, food message board, Stalinists whose idea of democracy is a lot of people contributing their knowledge for free while one little guy gets paid for everyone else's work.

And, not to stray too far, but did I also happen to mention that the "Chowhound Team" sucks? Like, in a serious, ugly way? And whom I'd like to put a gypsy curse on that goes something like "may your tongue turn to stone in your mouth" or "may your gums bleed rivers of rancid pus"?

Ah! But I digress.

Getting back to Shan, there I found myself, late at night last Thursday, again; hardly a customer in the place. Instead, there's usually some relative or friend of the owners lurking around with nothing better to do than blabbing on his cell phone or making fun of the Mexicans working in the kitchen.

And I think this is what really irks me about Shan. It's not that the food is bad, it's not; but it just pisses me off seeing how these guys treat their fellow immigrants. Yeah, the young guys from Mexico are desperate for work, they're often from small villages, alone, "illegal", and have few skills other than stirring a pot or pushing a mop.

Oh, but far be it for the douche bags and their obsequious friends at Shan to take advantage of someone who's in a worse off position.

I'm serious. You should see how they talk down to these guys. Speaking either Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, or one of the other hundred languages that make up the Indian subcontinent, to each other, while obviously talking shit about the Mexican guys (because you'll here them say something in Spanish or refer to one of the guys and laugh about it).

And I can tell the laughter isn't both ways.

I shudder to think of all of the labor laws they're violating. And don't even get me started on how there is a whole other sweatshop industry in San Francisco that foodies, like the Chowhound Team, will never, ever, acknowledge.

It makes me wish I could speak Spanish fluently, that way I could "share" with these Mexican guys at Shan about how the head cook's eyebrows run together so much he looks like a fucking Neanderthal. Or how the old geezer who works the cash register probably can't get it up cause he's too lazy.

Ah well. "Push out the jive, bring in the love" as Monty Burns says.

Here's the food:

The "Express Combo".

Chicken Tikka Masala and Beef Jalfrazi over rice and with naan. Tasty and spicy, but most likely sitting in a big plastic tub for most of the day. I know. I've been there at 9 PM and seen them make it for the next day.

I'm moving on.


30MP: Oh, Hell No.

Um, where are my Saturday morning cartoons, no, sorry, I mean cooking shows?

KQED can't go 2 fucking months without some lame, drawn out, uninspiring pledge drive where I have to sit through this milktoast Greg Sherwood's wimpy ass call for money while pitching Blenko glass or some stupid ass Get Rich Quick scheme for the bazillionth time!

All I want is my damn Yan Can Cook and my "favorite" goofy lady!

Uh, rich white people? (no, not you)

Can you get off your privileged lily-white ass and throw them some money already?

Snowy Valley? Specific Whites? Snob Hill? Anyone? Are you listening?


Part of the 30 Mornings Project

Friday, January 27, 2006

30MP: Who's On Second?

Part of the 30 Mornings Project

Thursday, January 26, 2006

30MP: Office Space

Part of the 30 Mornings Project

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

He Done Good

It's always a good thing when someone calls you at work, especially after you've been busting your ass on a deadline, and tells you "I've got something you're gonna like!"

Of course, this is usually followed by a futile "What? Tell me."

And eventual, "Nope".

Such was my day today. When I got home, I scoured the house looking for what potentially great thing I was dying to have that Bruce said he was going to leave for me.

Because our house not only is a wreck right now but also a fantastic place to lose something, I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was.

Was it this? This dusty old copy (1865) of The Handbook of Dining; or, Corpulency and Leanness Scientifically Considered by OG (Original Gourmet) food snob Brillat-Savarin?

Gee. I kinda hoped not.

Not that I'm complaining, but I kinda was looking for something a little more, um, automatically pleasing?

That's when Bruce got home and snuck these on the kitchen counter when I wasn't looking.

Aw man!

It's Chair-Wyyne! Heavy on the "Chair".

I haven't sipped this Southern beverage in over 12 years! Maybe more!

Boy, does this take me back! Funny how the taste of something brings back so many memories. This takes me back to Morganton, North Carolina and being 7 years old and having a bunch of country kids as friends.

Cheerwine tastes like Dr. Pepper, only sweeter. As you can see from the photo, I couldn't wait to open one.


Bruce found them at a BevMo in El Cerrito (how the hell he winds up in these places is beyond me). I guess Cheerwine has moved up in the world, since when I drank it, it was found in vending machines and came with plain ol' labels on aluminum cans. Here, they've gone all retro and glass bottle-y.

But the taste is the same!

I've got my Cheerwine! Now, about that Sundrop, Pimento Cheese, and Livermush...


30MP: Broadway Bay Bridge

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

30MP: Out The Door

Note: I practically ran out of the house this morning to catch the bus. I was only half dressed, with things stuffed in my pockets. As you see, I didn't even have time to tie my shoes.

America's Other Test Kitchen

It's almost time to make linguica again.

Not like we need to, since we still have plenty in our freezer from last year. However, I realize that not everyone has the skill, equipment, recipe, or family connections in order to be supplied with homemade Portagee linguica each year.

Instead, you're pretty much stuck with whatever is for sale in your local grocery store.

However, I've got some good news for you. And...I've got some bad news for you.

The good news is that Bruce and I stopped at a few large supermarkets in both San Francisco and the Central Valley and bought whatever linguica they had, which we have now finished taste-testing for you.

The bad news is that none of them were “exactly” like the homemade linguica we’ve tasted both at home and at the bullfights.

Essential linguica eating/making condiment/ingredient.

Generally, authentic linguica is pork marinated in red wine with some spices and smoked, and tastes like those things accordingly. When tasting the store-bought linguica, we kept that in mind.

Before we get into the results, a short word on the “science” behind the testing.

For the testing, we cut half of a link from each brand into 4 to 6 rounds and fried them seperately in a little oil on medium-high heat until heated through and crisp on both sides. After each tasting, the oil was dumped out, the pan was wiped clean, and new oil was added to the pan. Also, all utensils were cleaned off between tastings. The cooked linguica were placed on a plate with paper towels to absorb extra grease, with the paper towels changed after each tasting. To keep track of each tasting, scorecards were used to jot down notes on flavor, texture, smokiness, and grading.

We used an academic grading system, with A+ being superior, C being average, and F being failure.

Out of the five brands tested, two (Silva and Wellshire Farms) were fully-cooked. We found no discernable difference in the tasting between the uncooked and the fully-cooked. All of the brands held their shape well while cooking.

All brands ranged in price between $3 and $6.

So now, let’s proceed with the tasting results.


Silva Sausages
Purchased at: Safeway

Grade: C-

This fully-cooked linguica, made by San Jose-based Silva Sausage, was one of the least favorites. It’s packaging claims that it’s hickory smoked, but we could barely taste any smoke flavor. While there were some obvious notes of paprika and sweetness, the sausage was fairly bland and somewhat generic (read: boring). The texture of the meat was ground up and very processed.

I could see this being served at Denny's.


Wellshire Farms
Smoked Linguica
Purchased at: Whole Foods Market

Grade: C

Another fully cooked sausage. Out of all of the brands tested, this had the smokiest flavor. We liked the spicy hot flavor, though technically once the sausage has passed a certain spicy-hot level, it ceases to be linguica and becomes chourico instead.

While we liked the combination of the super-heavy smoke and spicy flavor, we did not like the texture of this sausage at all. It was dry and kind of crumbly and completely overprocessed. I guess that's what happens when you leave the fat out, duh!

Also, the meat didn't resemble pork at all, and at one point I thought it might be chicken. Is this what "natural" pork is like? If so, bring on the Franken-Pigs!

This gets a grade slightly higher than Silva only because it had more character (ie, real smoke flavor).


Fernandes Sao Jorge
Smoked Linguica
Purchased at: Save Mart, Oakdale, CA

Grade: B+

Fernandes not only makes linguica, but also serves as a distributor for Portuguese foodstuffs, such as the really stinky Sao Jorge Lourais cheese (right Chuck?). Out of all of the brands we tried, Fernandes has the least web presence (despite this, oops!) of the bunch and I struggled to find this address for you (you'll have to scroll down a bit).

These linguica links are huge and stuffed with big, meaty chunks of pork and fat, with tiny veins of spice and paprika running through. Heat-wise, the flavor was mild with a strong pork flavor and a slightly winey flavor. It also was visually appealing.

Note: If you click on the picture and read the ingredients, you will notice it contains MSG. I have no problem with MSG, but you might.

The smokiness was moderate; not too noticeable, but not completely absent either. If this linguica were just a little more winey (even though it was the only brand that listed wine at the beginning of it's ingredients) and smoky, it would've easily gotten an A or A+. Instead we rated them B+.

Just don't eat the lupini beans!


Mild Smoked Linguica
Purchased at: Save Mart, Oakdale, CA

Grade: C-

To tell you the truth, I wanted to like this one. However, both Bruce and I thought it was pretty bland and a tinge too sweet. I think the dry milk powder they add to the sausage detracts from the flavor. There was some smoke flavor, but it tasted artificial. Come to find out after reading the package, it was. No noticeable wine flavor. Texture-wise, it was too ground up and processed. And unlike the rest of the brands we tested, the casing was way too tough.

I guess they just do it differently on the East Coast.


Fernandes Sao Jorge
Caseira Home-style Smoked Linguica
Purchased at: Save Mart, Oakdale, CA

Grade: B

Like their other linguica, this has huge chunks of pork interspersed with chunks of fat and spices. This one had a mild, but well-balanced flavor, with noticeable levels of smokiness, but very little wine flavor. While very good, I couldn't really taste a huge difference between this style and their regular smoked linguica.


So, if you haven't guessed, we really liked (ding! ding!) the Fernandes Sao Jorge Smoked Linguica. In fact, Bruce ended up eating the other link shortly after the testing was over.

Fernandes makes a good, hearty sausage that comes the closest to authentic, homemade linguica as you can get from a grocery store brand. Superchunky, with a meaty pork taste, well-balanced flavors, moist, and nicely made. A tad bit more wine and smoke flavor would've given this linguica an A or A+, but for now we'll settle for Fernandes in a pinch.

You go Fernandes!


Monday, January 23, 2006

Duck, Covered: Part 2

Because I had duck legs left over from my other recipe, I decided to do something I've been thinking about for a long time: making duck confit.

To tell you the truth, I'm still a little fuzzy about what the taste of duck leg confit is. I've had it only once, and that was at Fringale. Because I was with other folks and my mind wasn't totally on the food, I don't remember any specific flavor.

Because I only had two legs, I decided to drop by a place in Chinatown to pick up more. Although I shouldn't have been surprised at how cheap they were, I was. If you compare the duck legs from Chinatown to the ones that were frozen, you'll see that they definitely have more color to them.

Chinatown duck legs on the left, previously frozen on the right.

I won't mention how cheap they were, but let me just say that from now on I'll buy all of my funky duck legs in the CT.

The confit recipe I used was from the Bouchon cookbook.

It's a pretty simple recipe. Just take some kosher salt and grind it up in a spice mixer with parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and white pepper. This will give you a "green salt" with which to rub your duck legs with. I only had thyme, no parsley, so that's what I used.

Making the confit is truly a "slow food" recipe. It takes at least two days. This is because you first cure the meat with salt, and then slow cook it in its own fat.

Sometimes I wish I could be cooked in my own fat!

I made the mistake of removing all of the skin from the duck legs I carved from the bird. But with the legs I bought in Chinatown, I merely removed the excess skin and fat. The reason why you want to leave the skin on is that later you'll want to fry the confit legs and have a crispy texture on one side and a succulent meaty texture on the other.

To start the confit, wash and dry the legs.

Then rub each leg with the green salt (about 1 to 2 tablespoons per leg). Afterwards, cover in a container and store in the fridge for at least 24 hours (or longer).

Meanwhile, render your duck fat. You can also buy rendered duck fat, but it's pretty pricey. And also, while this may seem blasphemous, I think you could also substitute lard if you don't have enough duck fat to render.

To render the fat, take the chunks of fat and skin and process in a food processor until you get something that resembles fat pudding.

Then take that creamed fat and add it to a cup of water in a large pot. Heat on low until all of the fat has liquified (this could take several hours).

Once liquid, strain the fat through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl set in ice water. Once cooled, the fat should be easy to separate from the jelled liquid below.

After your duck legs have cured, take them and wash the salt off of. Dry with a paper towel.

Then, take the rendered fat and dump in a heavy stock pot that is set on a stovetop burner on low. Melt the fat and then add the duck legs. The fat should cover the duck legs. If it doesn't and you need more fat, reach for the lard or extra duck fat, if you have it.

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees. After it has come to temperature, take the pot with the duck legs, cover it, and stick it in the oven for about 10 hours.

After that time is done, remove from the oven and let it cool in its own fat. When cool, place in a container and cover the legs with the fat it was cooked in.

As you see, I still have a lot of meat juices in my confit jar. What I will, and you should, do later is remove the juices so that there is nothing but the duck legs and fat in the jar. That way the confit should last several months.

Let the confit sit in the fridge for at least 2 weeks before eating.

Now it's a waiting game. Look for a follow up in 2-3 weeks!


30MP: Product Placement

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Duck, Covered

The first time I cooked duck was around 8 years ago when I made a tea-smoked duck in the oven.

That was fun.

That was when we lived in Daly City and when I was bitten in a big way by the Cantonese Roast Duck bug, and gained about 20 pounds from the one-two combination of melting duck fat/crispy skin and plum sauce.

Arrrrr. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

Fortunately, for my health and for my wallet, that didn't last too long.

Recently, I bought a duck (or to be accurate, a duckling) on a whim. It was when we were at O'Briens in Modesto (a fantastic, family-owned supermarket!) and I happened to notice they had duckling for sale at a reasonable price ($2.29 per pound). So I bought one, not really sure about what I was going to do with it.

Just so happens that Bruce's niece's husband, Jeremy, had been out hunting for duck that same day and bagged him one.

It felt good knowing that both of us had exerted so much time and energy hunting down the thing we love most.

Him in his green and brown camoflage.
Me in my black dress shirt and jeans.

Him, crouched down in some muddy field at the butt-crack of dawn.
Me, stalking the clean supermarket aisles in the middle of the afternoon.

Him, dodging snakes, bugs, crazy hunters.
Me, little old ladies with pushcarts.

In the end, he had to clean his duck; pulling out feathers, draining off the blood, pulling out buckshot. All I had to do was cut open the plastic bag.

And cut with GUSTO I did!

I ended up finding a recipe for Pan-Grilled Duck Breast with Chanterelles, Dried Apricots, and Almonds in the book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert (are you reading this, Bill?). publisher's link

Although I made some changes, the recipe came out pretty tasty and surprisingly fast and easy.

Before I get on with the recipe, let me just say this. I thought cutting up a duck would be like cutting up a chicken; something I have done dozens of times with ease. But, oh no!

Ducks are not chickens. For one thing, the smell is completely different. Raw duck meat has a meatier smell to it than chicken.

Also, ducks are a *bitch* to cut up. There's all kinds of bones and cartiledge where you think there shouldn't be. The skin is tough and you really have to have a sharp knife to cut with. Even then, cutting up a duck can be time consuming, so I recommend cutting it up long before you start this recipe.

Tip: If you buy your duck in Chinatown, they'll cut it up for you!

I made this recipe after I got home from work, so we weren't eating until 8 PM. However, if I had the duck breasts washed, dried, cut from the bird, and ready to go, it would've shortened my time a good 30-45 minutes. Again, part of that time was figuring out where and how to cut and then trying to cut through all of that tough fat and skin. The other part was cutting up the rest of the bird since I was getting off the fat and the legs for the confit I was making on Saturday and Sunday. The leftovers had to be put in bags marked "duck" and stuck in the freezer.

The other thing I learned that I'd like to share is exactly, "what is Duck". Or, what is that thing I bought in a bag labelled "duck".

First, it's not really a duck, but a duckling. That means it's baby duck (aww!) who's life was cut tragically short at the tender age of 7 to 11 weeks so that you and I could have pan-grilled duck breasts. (awwww!)

If you bought that duckling in the United States and it came already packaged in that heavy plastic covering, and it just said "duckling", chances are it is a White Pekin duck. White Pekin duck is the same as Long Island duck, and was brought to the United States from China in 1873 where it was then commercially raised in, where else, Long Island.

Coincidentally, the Soprano family arrived in America that same year and shortly set up shop selling "New Jersey ducks" that, in their darling colloquialisms, "beats da fuckin' pants off dohs pussy Lawn Guyland pigeons!".

By the 1940's, Long Island duck farms produced 6.5 million ducks annually. Today, there is only one duck farmer left in Long Island, mostly due to pollution and poor waste management that drove most duck farmers out of business.

Special Note: White Pekin is a duck. Peking duck is a Chinese dish that dates back over 700 years.

White Pekins make up roughtly 95 percent of the ducklings sold for food here with the other two, Muscovy and Moulard (a cross between Muscovy and White Pekin), making up the rest of the market. Muscovy is the duck (liver) used in making foie gras and whose breast meat is generally considered superior to the other species.

The fourth kind of duck eaten in the US is the wild game duck, Mallard. That's the kind Jeremy likely shot.

Also, something that use to confuse me about "breasts" is what really is the breast. But now, I think I've gotten it figured out. Often, when we think of a breast, ie chicken breast, we are really only thinking of half of the breast. But in actuality, the whole breast of a bird is both muscles on either side of the breast bone. So, remember that next time you see a place that sells you a chicken breast and only gives you half. Be sure to complain loudly; loud enough to get comped a free bottle of wine or something.

OK! Did you learn anything new?

That's nice.

Here's Paula's recipe, with my bitching added in:

Pan-Grilled Duck Breast with Chanterelles, Dried Apricots, and Almonds

Serves 2

½ pound of small chanterelles
(I used what was available, names the big ones)
1 boneless duck breast
Course salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup of rich chicken stock
½ cup diced dried apricots (about 5)
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
15 whole blanced almonds
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1. Wash the chanterelles. Wolfert suggested dipping them in boiling water for 2 to 3 seconds, then dunking in ice water, drying them off, and then letting them sit in the fridge for most of the day. I skipped this step and merely washed whatever dirt I could off of them. By the way, my mushrooms were pretty waterlogged to begin with, but that's not a problem as I just throw them in the hot, dry pan and the water evaporates anyway.

2. I have to say, I think Wolfert makes things last much longer than she needs to. I thought slow cooking was about building flavor, but Wolfert suggests that now you take your duck breast from the fridge an HOUR before you want to cook. Come on! That's totally unecessary.

Anyway, trim the excess fat and skin from around the breast. Dry it with papertowels. Score the skin in a crosshatch pattern, but don't pierce the flesh. Season with salt and half the pepper and wrap in plastic wrap (uh, why cover in plastic wrap again?).

3. In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and then the duck breast, flesh side down, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of stock to deglaze and boil until thick. Then turn over the duck breast and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the breast without turning for 15 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large, dry skillet set over medium-high heat, add the chanterelles. If your mushrooms are like mine, before you even get to this step you'll need to "shred" them by pulling from the top of the chanterelle and pulling down, like you were plucking a daisy. Do this until the mushroom is shredded. Now add the mushrooms to the hot pan. They'll squeek at first and then finally release their juices. Once they have released the juices and have sauteed down a bit, add the apricots, the shallot, and the remaining butter, cooking and stirring for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

5. Turn the breast over and finish cooking on the flesh side. Test for doneness by poking the breast with your finger. If it's still pretty soft, it's probably still rare, so continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so. When done, remove to a plate and cover with foil.

6. Pour off all of the fat from the duck breast skillet and return to the burner. Crank up the heat and deglaze with the rest of the stock. Add the mushroom mixture, correct the seasonings, add the lemon juice (or leave it out, because I didn't add the lemon and my sauce was citrusy enough) and then add the almonds and the chives.

Another note here: I didn't have almonds handy, and if I did, I didn't have time to blanch any. Instead, I used slivered almonds and they worked out just fine.

7. This is the end of the recipe. All Wolfert tells you here is to thinly slice the duck breast, season, and serve with the mushroom sauce…but on what? Is that it?

I decided to whip up some couscous, which is super easy. After it was cooked, I plated it, then topped with the mushroom sauce, then the duck breast. Throw on a few unchopped chives for décor and voila!

God, I love duck!


30MP: Sun Day

Saturday, January 21, 2006

30MP: Seagull

Friday, January 20, 2006

30MP: Escape

Thursday, January 19, 2006

30MP: Fire At Second & Minna

Silver Linings Out The Yin Yang

It's been raining a lot lately. Cold rain, no less.

However, I firmly believe that behind every cloud is a silver lining - almost as much as I believe that behind every comet is a space ship.

Just kidding.

Yesterday, silver linings ripped and tore through this bleak weather like a piss-drunk circus clown and I for one am enjoying every minute of it. The least of which happens to be the sudden and miraculous appearance of a taco truck 2 blocks from where I work. And while the San Buenas taco truck isn't the best one I've been to (that would have to be here), at $1.50 per taco it does the trick. I can't wait to try the tortas!

As if Our Lady of Guadalupe herself was casting miracles right and left, notorious Mexican-American scam artists Anna Ayala and her husband Jaime Placencia, aka The Chili-Finger couple, were given maximum sentences yesterday for their role in the plot to bilk Wendy's out of millions of dollars.

Not like I cared that they tried to scam a big fast-food corporation, but Wendy's was but just one of the victims Ayala and Placencia had swindled over the years, including selling a house they didn't own, failing to pay child support, and using their own children in a Social Security scam.

Ayala and Placencia were sentenced to 9 and 12 years, respectively, and it pleases me to no end. In fact, I hope they fucking suffer.

Actually, I know they will, because one year in prison can be pretty damn traumatic. I'm one of those people who don't believe prison makes bad people better, only better people bad and bad people badder. I have no illusions about the so-called "rehabilitation" system. I know it's only to punish, and sometimes to torture.

Which is why I know the Chili-Finger couple will get their just desserts, and to be brutally honest, I'm looking forward to it.

Generally, I don't delight in the suffering of others. But then there are those times when I could just dance on someone's grave. Maybe this has to do with gender because, oddly enough, as soon as I read the Chili-Finger couple story, another news item caught my eye; this one regarding gender and what you and I know as "schadenfreude", or the delight in the suffering of others.


Anyway, like I said: silver linings everywhere.

I even got cruised while waiting in line at Starbucks! That almost never happens, or at least hasn't in a long time, or at least I haven't noticed if it has.

With the rain comes mushrooms and yesterday I walked to the Ferry Building in the pouring rain to buy Chanterelle mushrooms at Far West Fungi. They seem to be the only place around that has fresh chanterelles, and at $20 per pound it's hard to complain. I say that because half a pound of chanterelles is more than enough to flavor a dish.

I happen to be using them to flavor a duck breast recipe (more on that later). I find it hard to walk past Far West Fungi because, every time I do, I feel the need to spend lots of money on mushrooms, and while I love mushrooms, I just can't seem to break free and buy the ones I want. But if I were a rich man ("Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum"), I'd be swimming in lobster, oyster, porcini, morel, chanterelle, and of course truffle mushrooms, all from Far West.

Being at Far West Fungi reminded me: I should stop by Frog Hollow Farms, which is a couple of doors down, to see if they have dried apricots. They did – organic, sun-dried, wholesome, of course. I couldn't resist sampling some once I bought them. They're a little harder than the ones I've tried before, but very flavorful.

After I left the Ferry Building, I headed in the direction of the taco truck, which guided me past the park I call "Justin Herman Bog", or just "the bog". It's a bog because, like Sydney Walton park, it's built upon landfill where the bay use to be and, at certain locations near the center, is saturated with water constantly due to poor drainage.

As I walked by, I noticed these nice looking birds that at first I thought were pigeons (aka "City Chicken") but only less grungy and pest-like. I'm not usually a bird watcher, but sometimes I get the bug and just have to stop and admire them. In this case, I walked closer towards them and took a photo.

As I was stepping out of the park, what did I come by but a full-fledged, shaggy-mane mushroom! This one was about 8 inches long and every bit as phallic as that sounds. Take a look!

As you may or may not know, shaggy-mane mushrooms are one of the easiest edible mushrooms to identify, that is if you get to them in time. Because almost as soon as it begins to rain, they spring up quickly and forcefully, and almost as soon as they do, they begin a rapid process of decay. Often they are completely gone before the sun sets.

So did I pick this one? You bet! And was I going to take it home and eat it? Hell yeah!

Foolishly, I thought I could. I put it immediately in a plastic bag and stuck it in the refrigerator at work. By the time 3 PM rolled around, it was almost completely black and inky. Damn! The stem was still good, so grabbed me a nibble and tossed the rest in the garbage.

It reminded me of my other mushroom find this year. This one happened a month ago and I happened to find it in a wooded area outside of the building I work in. Imagine my surprise when I found two of these beauties.

Did I pick it? You bet! Was I going to take it home and eat it? Well, maybe.

I might of, but Speedball (El Gato Diablo) got to it first after we had left to go to the store. When we got back, on the floor it lay with a little strip of it torn off, and likely eaten.

Speedball, aka "El Gato Diablo"

I'm glad it didn't kill him. Or that I didn't have to call Rock Med.

That was a silver lining. And today the weather is sunny and beautiful.

Life ain't so bad sometimes.