Some San Francisco street reality for your happy brunchy Sunday…
The fellow was clearly homeless, or pretty close to it. But it was a relief to see that at least in this one passing moment he had some food. It looked like a tamale of some kind. And he was really enjoying it. Devouring it, to the exclusion of his consideration of everything else around him as he walked the curb and gutter down Valencia Street.
…to whom I have been married for 15 years as of today, and who lived and inspired this story and so many others in my heart’s yet unwritten library.
The old timers had been going there for over one hundred years, and I was finally back after more than twenty.
It was Kamiya Bar, in the Asakusa part of Tokyo, and in 2008 it was the oldest western-style bar in the city. Western as in high ceilings, with wood-veneer wall panels, chrome light fixtures and those patterned tin ceiling tiles you see in old saloons in Tombstone, Arizona or Virginia City, Nevada.
But I don’t mean it also had brass spittoons and buffalo horns on the walls.
There’s this thing I have begun encountering in a certain sort of restaurant. It’s not a good thing. I first ran across this policy at a place I used to eat in Bend, OR, and it happened again tonight at Scratch Burrito here in Denver.
I went in, ordered a burrito bowl and an iced tea. Paid, found a table, went to the drink station and got my tea. Looked around and couldn’t find any sweetener. So I go back to the counter. Would you like regular sugar or agave, the guy asks. No, no, I need artificial, I reply – Sweet-n-Low, if you have it? Sorry sir, we only have natural sweeteners. Continue reading →
Stopping in for a drink in a small, beautiful Tokyo dive…
The tiny neighborhood bars and watering holes distributed throughout Tokyo are probably as numerous as the stars on a clear night in the Himalayas. Perversely, they’re often the kinds of places that are easy to miss, at least in the daytime, even if a given joint is open when one happens to walk by.
But sometimes one can pass a Tokyo bar, even a run-down looking place, and feel strangely drawn to it somehow. Something about it catches the eye, perhaps the way it’s painted or how the bar’s name is displayed on the street. And suddenly one finds oneself walking into the joint even if one wasn’t originally in the mood for a drink.
Freedom in Nakano 5-chome is that kind of place, an unassuming little neighborhood bar that doesn’t look like much on the outside, but had an allure that made going inside an unexpected but rich Tokyo experience…
A destitute man in San Francisco’s Japantown. He was digging through public garbage cans, apparently for containers having California redemption value…
(Picture taken in San Francisco, California on September 7th, 2014)
For those of you who enjoy my work on these pages, I was absent for nearly four weeks due to a death in my family. My apologies. I won’t let it happen again. Death, I mean. I have recently begun diverting all my beer money towards developing an immortality serum in my basement lab. I also have a new photography project in development. Click here to have a preliminary look.
An ode to nattō, an horribly lovely Japanese import…
Do you like soy sauce, tofu, miso soup? The humble soybean gives us so many edible wonders that you probably didn’t know it is also used to make what Westerners consider to be one of the foulest foods ever to come from Japan.
(Nattō from my grocer’s freezer about to get mixed with raw egg. This is one of my favorite toppings for rice.)
While New Belgium‘s transformation through the years from kick-ass Colorado craft brewer to pretty big time national brewer resulted in a predictable decline in quality of the product, it must be acknowledged that the Trippel remains a not-half-bad Belgian for your basic no-special-occasion drinking pleasure. 1554 isn’t bad, either.
I wish Fat Tire was what it was back in 1993, though. Also, bring back Old Cherry.
Local, natural, community focused: Massachusetts’ Outstanding Dairy Farm is thriving.
When we last visited John Hornstra five years ago, he had just bought a local farm here in the pretty affluent suburbs south of Boston, and had grand plans. Hornstra had delivered our milk (in glass bottles!) for years when we lived in Massachusetts, and he still delivers the same milk (and chocolate milk, and egg nog at Christmas) to my daughter’s family. But he had plans—to build his recently purchased farm into a local community place, a place for kids (and not just kids) to see how farms work, and to get real food. Most important was his plan to bring dairy farming back to the area that his family had lived in, and been dairy framers in, for several generations. So how’s that working out? Continue reading →
Esquire blog discusses a famous brewer’s secret for staying (relatively) sober. We test it out.
You may have seen Aaron Goldfarb’s recent Esquire blog entitled “How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.” Great headline, and how cool would that be, right? I was skeptical, for obvious reasons, but it turns out that what is proposed is an idea developed by Joseph Owades, who Samuel Adams co-founder Jim Koch calls “the best brewer who ever lived.”
I figured I’d test the method myself, and not just because it would give me an excuse to drink too much.
The food we eat is killing us, but there are simple steps we can take to improve our health.
“Eating is an agricultural act.”—Wendell Berry
I have been depressed by, and disturbed by, the increasingly obvious American reluctance to accept science. That’s a pretty broad generalization, of course, but we all know where it comes from—we see manifestations of this every day, from vaccines, to global warming, to, well, whatever. If there’s a plausible scientific explanation for something, and a completely loony one, you just know that a certain percentage of the population is going to be chomping at the bit to accept the loony one.
How did a nation that constantly refers to itself as The Greatest Nation on Earth™ get populated by a surprisingly large number of dopes? Continue reading →
Posole is a microcosm of New Mexico cuisine in one delicious pot.
My husband’s specialty is Green Chili Stew (aka Posole), a dish he learned to make when he lived in Albuquerque for six years. This is a staple food in our house from fall through spring. It is a microcosm of New Mexican cooking in one pot. Serve it with a hearty ale or porter and tortillas with honey.
Our strangest experience with it was taking it to a potluck soup party with our group of friends that includes several vegans (this was before they were vegan). The pot was on the stove bubbling away, smelling heavenly. People were stirring, sniffing, and considering their possibilities when someone asked, “Is it vegetarian?” Continue reading →
Those who know me will attest to my taste for fine single malt and American microbrews. But my little secret is now out. I’m also a rum-whore. Always have been. And I’m a stone cold sucker for a good rum punch, little umbrella and all. Especially in the summer. Or Hawaii.
So with summer nearly upon us, I thought a fitting subject for Food & Drink Week would be my favorite rum punch recipe.
When I was in Kauai a few years ago I fell in love with their take on the classic Mai Tai – they call their top shelf version the Tai Chi. Continue reading →
Vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free dieters – this savory dish works for everyone.
We have a group of friends that includes several vegans, along with some who are gluten-free and one who has an aversion to orange vegetables. Needless to say, cooking for this crowd sometimes poses a challenge. I’ve had some tasty quinoa salads and some tasty black bean-corn salads, so I decided to try my had at my own version. This can be freely embroidered upon.
This type of curry is comfort food to the Japanese the way macaroni and cheese is to Americans…
I love to cook, and I am told I’m pretty good at it. The one thing I cook for people most often is this Japanese curry. I’ve been making it for nearly a decade, but I really got serious about it after my wife and I went to Tokyo in March, 2008. I make it four or five times a year. Amongst my neighbors and friends it has become my signature dish. If you are familiar with Japanese curry at all, you know the basic dish is wonderful during colder weather, the spicier the better.