Thursday, June 4, 2009

Things I like today

  • Graduations:  It feels as happy of an occasion as a wedding.  There is so much hope and promise for the future in the air.  
  • The blistering crispy-on-the-outside chewy-on-the-inside crust of a pizza Margarita at Pizzeria Delfina
  • Feeling at peace in the face of uncertainty
  • My new boots ;)
  • Crossing things off my Things To Do list.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Daily Bread

PS (pre-script):  I realize that a few of you get this as an email.  It's supposed to be my blog, one that you can look at if you want, not something to clog up your inbox.  I don't know how this works, but somehow that's how it's set up (let me know Jake if you figured it out).  So, if you would like to stop receiving this as an email just let me know and I'll do my best to try to figure out how to get you off the list that I can't find.lso, if you have an comments, please leave them on the blog because so far I look pretty lame with 0 comments to my site, but I know some of you have actually responded to me personally.  I don't want to hurt my cyber street cred if I have any.  Thanks!  IN

And on with the show.....

A couple weekends ago I went to Napa Valley for the weekend with some friends. These wonderful women (we'll call them C and K for now) saw it fit for us to escape reality for a couple days.  C and K whisked me from the concrete streets of San Francisco to the serene, farm land of Napa Valley.  

For being a beginning foodie, I am not much of a drinker.  Blame it on my allergies, blame it on the "Asian Red" that happens when I take 3 sips of wine and then turn so red it looks as if my head will explode into Pulp Fiction type pieces, or blame it on uninformed taste buds.  Whatever the case, I drink about once every 3-4 months and it's usually just a glass of red wine or a Guinness on tap.  For special occasions I might let my hair down and have two glasses, but I'm usually holding onto something for balance at that point. 

So what is there in Napa if not acres and acres of vineyards?  Napa to me is a little like Vegas.  Even if you don't gamble, there's always something else to indulge in.  For me, it was all about the food, spas and a little outlet shopping.  We had swedish massages in Napa, dipped into some thick and hot volcanic mud in Calistoga, shopped, and best of all ate great food!

The mud baths reminded me of the episode from Rob and Big.  Ya, kinda like that.

The first night we had a great dinner at Celedon. I had pork belly and watermelon.  Yes that's right pork belly and watermelon.  Either one of the two would have gotten me, but the combo was amazing.  The salty, fatty pork coupled with the cool refreshing bites of the watermelon, sprinkled with feta...mmmm.  I went to sleep relaxed, almost buzzed, and full.  That was a good night.

C and K were kind enough to humor me as we want to Ad Hoc the next night and Bouchon Bakery for breakfast the next morning.   I tried to explain how both were owned by Thomas Keller who is one of the top chef's in the Bay if not the country.  We couldn't afford a meal at French Laundry ($250 per person), but we could try a prix fix meal at Ad Hoc and some pastries to go.  

Ad Hoc was great.  Simple, unpretentious and all about the food.  Their tag line is "temporary relief from hunger".  We had 4 courses ranging from "duck ham" (duck that was cured to the point where it really tastes like ham), tri-tip steak and chard, a cheese course and finally buttermilk panna cotta.  C loved the panna cotta so much I turned to say something to her and she had already inhaled the whole thing!  The next day we went to Bouchon bakery where I had them fill a pastry box for me full of eclairs, macarones, bouchons, and other chocolaty delights.  They melted on the way home, but I ate them all happily later anyway.

The thing that struck me about this trip was how funny my friends looked at me when I talked about Ad Hoc being on the Chronicles top 100 Bay area restaurants.  I talked more about Thomas Keller and the other chefs that I love here.  They gave me the kind of look you give to your child (and a couple of my adult cousins) when they are explaining the nuances of Harry Potter; "that's sweet you're excited but I don't really care".

Why do I care so much about food all of a sudden?  I used to eat just to sustain myself.  Food was more about the social event for me than the actually eating.  But now I love the whole culture around food.  It has become almost spiritual.

It's a natural fit really.  In Jewish tradition meals are part of the religious holidays.  As people gather to celebrate they take time to share stories and remember God's provision for their people. In Christian tradition, taking communion or partaking of the Eucharist (depending on your tradition) has become a ceremony of remembrance of the Last Supper.  Jesus was often found eating and drinking with people.  Sometimes he ate just with his disciples, sometimes with the crowds that followed him from town to town, and sometimes with people thought to be at the bottom of society's standards (gasp!).  He ate with hookers and hustlers.  I thump my chest with a fist and nod with respect at this.  Jesus ate like a homey.  

If you know a Filipino family, this painting may be above their dining room table.

For Filipinos, eating is a part of sharing with one another.  Gatherings are centered on the food we share with each other.  Auntie Cecile's fresh lumpia and Uncle Dan's BBQ are essential parts of family gatherings.  Food is cultural.   Food is spiritual.  Food is a reminder that God continues to sustain us and provide for us.  Sharing food is sharing God's grace to us.

I know there are some that struggle with the idea that if there is a God why are there hungry people?  Well folks, that's on us.  There is plenty of food to go around, it's just that some of us use, hoard, and waste more than others.  Remember when your mom told you about the starving children in Africa (for the me the Philippines) when you wouldn't finish your dinner?  She was right.  Whatever we've been given was meant for us to share with others.  Sometimes we think of sharing as us "losing".  But there is truly a greater "gain" in "losing" for someone else.

God gives to us so that we can enjoy the things we've been given.  God blesses some of us with mini vacations to Napa and 4 star restaurants, trips to Trader Joes or Safeway, bread (or rice for that matter) on the table and most importantly people to share with.  At your next meal, take a moment, give thanks for eating one more meal and consider who we can share with next.  Bon appetite!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Goal Oriented

I am something of a goal oriented person.  Many of my friends have great goals; run a half marathon, run a full marathon, run a triathlon, etc.  My goals are a little less exhausting and usually involve adding rather than subtracting calories.  A friend of mine mentioned the 7x7 list of 100 things to eat and drink before you die.  

For those of you who don't know, San Francisco is a small city, only 7 miles by 7 miles in size.  But this small geographic area is packed full of amazing non-franchised restaurants all waiting for me to try them.  Here's the link to the list:

As soon as I got the list I went straight to La Taqueria in the Mission to try a tacos carnitas.  I've been wanting to go there for a couple years and this list gave me the perfect excuse.  I'm waiting for a new debit card to arrive (thought I lost my wallet) and was confined to whatever I could get for $7.44.  At first I ordered two tacos, but had to take back the carne asada taco when I realized I was 40 cents short.  I counted my coins like a little kid in a candy store and managed to have just enough for a small horchata.  Nice!

I must say it was a dang good taco.  The pork was perfectly cooked.  It wasn't too salty or overcooked like many carnitas I've tried.  The pork was so flavorful it held it's own against the corn tortilla and the fresh chopped tomatoes and pinto beans.  It made me long for the Filipino style pork; lechon.  Oh lechon how I love thee.  But I digress.  The horchata was also very tasty.  I didn't detect any grit from the spices and wasn't sure if that made it more or less authentic, but I enjoyed it just the same.  I  made the mistake of grabbing the bottle of green sauce on the table and squirting it on my already tasty taco.  For the next couple bites I tasted nothing but heat.  After the 4th bite I was back to the wonderful and clean flavors of the pork, beans and tomatoes.  Ahhh.

Nine items on the list down, only 91 more to go! Game on!

Things I like today:
-Cinco de Mayo (don't all of us brown folks celebrate today?)
-green mangoes (see Burnt Lumpia's blog)
-friends who scheme on your behalf
-Saturday morning breakfast at Mama's with Lisa
-sugar free dark chocolate jello pudding with whip cream
-crushes on guys I've never met (i.e Ming Tsai, Linecook, and Taye Diggs)
-the promise of tomorrow
-Sundays in San Francisco

Friday, May 1, 2009

You can help kids too!

Dear friends,

At 6am this morning I sat in my car waiting for *Jason (name has been changed).  With a hooded sweatshirt over his head and a backpack on his shoulder he looked like most teenagers on his way to school.  This morning was a little different though.  Before he goes to school we are going downtown to sell Krispy Kremes to raise money for him to go to camp.

On the way to pick up the doughnuts we talk about school, his neighborhood and his family.  Jason lives with his mother and his brother.  His dad is a drug addict and they don’t see him often.  Jason is quick to say that he’s a good dad mainly, except when he’s under the influence. There is no bitterness or hate in his voice, just an understanding that life can get messy. 

He knows messy.  He tells me about the stabbings and homicides that have happened over the past year at the end of his block.  He goes on to say how it’s not as bad as some places near where his mom works.  He and his brother can’t visit their mom at work because one block down there is a gang that messes with them every time they come by.  His mom works as a waitress as she raises the two boys alone.  I ask Jason how he ended up being such a good kid and he gives credit to his mom, “Let’s just say she’s the boss.”

By the time we get to the store he tells me how he is going to take the SAT this Saturday.  It’s a preliminary test so he can see if he needs to buy the book for the real deal.  He’s a smart kid who tells me he wants to become a firefighter.  It’s good pay, affords you time to have a personal life and you get to help people at the same time.

Jason is such a sweet kid I can’t help but look at him in awe.  Despite his neighborhood, his mom has done everything she can to give him a better life.  There is so much hope and promise in his eyes I want to cheer him on in the movie of his life. 

Today he’ll raise $100 toward camp, but he has $400 left to go.  Would you please consider sponsoring Jason and a few other kids like him to go to camp this summer?  Young Life camp is a week where they can enjoy being in a safe environment, let themselves just be kids again, and most importantly hear about a God that loves them so much he’s willing to trade His life for theirs.  It’s a message that can transform the lives of kids like Jason. 

It takes $550 to send a kid to 7 days of Young Life camp.  Would you please pray and consider sponsoring a kid for one of those days?  They are working hard to raise their own money toward camp, but would greatly appreciate any donations from friends like you.  Please send your tax deductible gifts payable to “Young Life” to 505 A St. # 7 Daly City, CA 94014. 

Thank you for your support!  OneLove, Joyce del Rosario

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cool Job Opp

I really love good food and occasionally like good wine (I'm allergic so I don't drink often).  For now Chilean wines seem to be my favorite.  Okay okay, I've only tried an expensive bottle of Chilean Cab and a really cheap one ($3 at Trader Joe's) and I liked them both.  Of course the expensive one was better.  But if I were more of a wine connoisseur I would apply for this job

$10,000 a month and a free place to live for 6 months?  Too bad I'm allergic alcohol...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Smack down


You know how when you're shopping at a store, minding your own business, maybe wondering which shampoo will really give you more volume, you come across a sound so startling you almost drop that shampoo bottle?  It's the "I Wanna" kid.  The "I Wanna" kid has somehow fixated on something in the store and has decided that their life is not worth living without it.  Maybe they missed their nap or they're hungry, but for whatever reason I Wanna is on a mission and is determined to make it happen.

If I Wanna's mom has gone through this too many times to care, she will let I Wanna go on crying, maybe with a couple stern whispers in I Wanna's ear, "We're not doing this here.  Wait till we get home."  Or she may drag I Wanna across the store's floor as I Wanna is gripping her ankles in a full body plea, sweeping any dust bunnies in the way, in her own determination not to let her shopping mission be disrupted by I Wanna's mission.

My favorite is when I Wanna's mom ain't havin it.  She stops I Wanna dead in their tracks, squares herself up to I Wanna, gets in I Wanna's face and in a very certain and definitive manner says, "Stop right now.  Stop whining, stop crying, and straighten yourself up because your life is not about to end if things don't go your way."  I Wanna stops crying and breathes short and quick inward breaths as the remaining tears roll off or dry up on their face.  The crisis has been taken care of.

It's at this point that I take my purchases and move on to the next aisle because what I really want to do is a slow clap in admiration of I Wanna's mom who handled the situation so swiftly and confidently.

This is the manner that God handled me last Saturday morning.  I was at Lake Merced ready for our Fun Run to raise money for kids to attend camp this summer.  My hope and dream was that kids were able to raise hundreds of dollars from neighbors and friends and family.  I also hoped that we had other adults in the community who were so excited to help they also raised hundreds of dollars to help kids.  We were to start at 9am.

By 9:15 only one of my volunteers had shown up.  No kids, no adults, no money raised.  I proceeded to whine and complain.  I was angry and frustrated that no one had shown up.  I didn't know how else we were going to raise the 15K it takes to send 30 kids to camp.  I'm not gonna lie, I dropped a very well placed F-bomb in there somewhere and a couple other choice words in the midst of frustration.  

It was about this time God had had enough and got ready to lay the smack down on me.  The thing about God is that God can come in many different ways.  Today God sent KK.  KK was parked right next to my car.  She had just finished running the lake with her sister.  I was still dark and seething, but forced a smile to greet her.  Her energy and optimism melted my frustration as she offered to help with a spaghetti feed and a bake sale.  She started to list off all the other kind of fund raisers we could do.  With each fund raiser idea she listed off, I felt like I Wanna sniffing and slowly letting my anger go.  By the time she left, having promised to help, I hung my head low in shame.  Why was I whining?  Why was I so frustrated?  God is more invested in the kids than I am, of course God will make a way.  

I had experienced the equivalent of the supermarket smack down.  And you know what?  There wasn't any real reason for me to whine and complain.  My life was not going to end over that matter.  Although it wasn't an out and out spanking, God gently but firmly reminded me that when I think my world is in shambles, it might just be that I need to stop complaining and trust that God knows best.

Thing I like today:
  • Trader Joe's gnocchi and gorgonzola
  • Sparkling Pomegranate juice
  • tart frozen yogurt with fresh strawberries and dark chocolate chips
  • same as above, but blended into a smoothie
  • the 3 year old at TJ's pushing a little shopping cart, heading to the back of the store saying over and over to his dad, "I need a sample.  I need a sample.  I need a sample"
  • Drumstick ice cream
  • the "Lose It" app on my IPhone.
  • The fact that I saw men have to wait in line for the bathroom at Dolores Park


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Things I like today

-Spam w scrambled eggs and rice on a camping trip
-Vienna Sausage fried up with rice and some ketchup
-Mitchell's Ube ice cream
-Ube ice cream in a toasted pan de sal
-vegetarian lasagna with lots of ricotta cheese
-duck confit
-ripe strawberries
-Blue Bottle latte