Castro Huff n Puff

I checked in the recently opened Puff n Stuff store on Castro Street, where the Castro Chocolate shop used to be.  From one unhealthy store to a worse one.  Now instead of just candy – expensive candy at that – the new Puff n Stuff store features all the worst food groups in one location for your shopping convenience:  Cigarettes, chips, candy bars, pints of ice cream and … bongs.  Well – I guess a one-stop-shop for cheap snacks does have a market here.

Here’s hoping it goes out of business quickly.  The cheap and tacky atmosphere which would be outclassed in a Milpitas strip mall by no means makes up for the cheap and unhealthy products.

Julie, Julia, Yoga and entheogenesis

Hubby played Julia Child yesterday, creating a stunning Boeuf Bourguignon out of nothing but beef, bacon, pearl onions, butter, red wine and love.  And probably lots more…I didn’t watch the entire operation.  He used the “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child – just like in the movie.  (I still have to see that film!)

What I had to move to clear counter space

What I had to move to clear counter space

The surprise part was that two of our dinner guests knew Julia Child from her days in Santa Barbara – where they are from.  One used to cook with her!  I had to ask if he has any of her pots and pans but alas he has none – instead he had a couple books signed for siblings but he still has the memories of cooking with Julia Child – and how many people can say that?

My contribution was making pasta – which although I don’t do it often is a simple task.  The most challenging part in my kitchen is clearing enough space to mix and need the dough and then to lay out the cut pasta to dry.  I just made wide noodles to serve alongside the stew.

I loooove my little electronic scale.  300g flour?  Not a problem!

I loooove my little electronic scale. 300g flour? Not a problem!

I didn’t take a picture of the egg and water mixture overflowing the flour pile, in a mess resembling a volcano with a yellow lava flow oozing over the counter.  I was supposed to mix in the liquid gradually – doh.  I eventually got it all mixed into a smooth pasta dough.

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And eventually it all got rolled through the KitchenAid pasta roller and cutter, in time even to allow for relaxing wine and hors d’ouerves with our guests.  Friends from Berkeley and Oakland, who bravely came despite the fog that rolled in and put a temporary end to our summer afternoon.

Dinner discussion ranged from the state of race relations in South Africa (one guest was recently there helping with HIV prevention programs) to pets (everything from Cockatiels to tortoises to cats) to Yoga to one person’s recent experience at a workshop with the entheogenic drug DMT (a hallucinogen which, in a way, erases the boundary between one’s ego and one’s perception of everything else) to which Berkeley Bowl is better – the new one or the old one.   (The consensus being that at least now the crowd is tolerable at the old one).

All in all a very pleasant and stimulating evening – and by the end, the blowing fog had ended but left everything pleasantly cooled off, and after all the wine I fell right to sleep!

Queer around town

I ran into local ubër-Blogger Moby in the Castro yesterday which further reminded me how far behind I am in updating here.  I blame Facebook!  I blame work!  I blame Gavin and Heklina, keeping me up all night gallavanting around to the chi-chi-est of nightclubs, gallery openings and backrooms.

So what’s been Queer Around Town this past week?

Went to a hot new nightspot named Blackbird, in the narrow slot on Market Street where Metro briefly opened after losing the prime Noe/16th corner loft space.

While the moved Metro did not catch on, it goes to show that in bars (but not real estate) it is not location, but ambience-ambience-ambience that are the three most important things.  Blackbird shows a level of care and (frankly) taste that is missing from most local bars.  It was packed last Friday night when we met friends after the Barbershop Reading Series at Joe’s.  A very mixed crowd, not overwhelmed by Top40 dance tracks, and with a bar menu skewed to the new SF artisanal cocktail spirit.  It seemed like something found downtown rather than Upper Market. A good opportunity to dress up and go out to meet friends.

The following day, needing much exercise to offset the alcohol, I did Craig’s Body Pump class at Castro Gold’s – what could be more queer than that?  If you haven’t gone to one of the Body Pump classes you are missing out.  I love Craig and Matty’s queer ad-libs to the music mix tracks during the workouts.  And, you pack a lot of resistance training as well as cardio into the hour sessions.  And hello – they are both very easy on the eyes!

Not content with just the Body Pump for exercise, I went to Bryan’s Naked Yoga class in the Mission later in the afternoon.  That must be up there on the “only in SF” lists – and both fun and a great workout for mind and body.  The Saturday class is Anusara rather than flow so the emphasis is on integration of mindfulness and compassion with correct posture, exercises and stretches.

BF and I had dinner one night at Herbivore on Valencia – I am trying Vegan cuisine these days (although I don’t mean exclusively – just sampling it!).  We both had delicious noodle dishes.  the next day I made a vegan Japanese soba noodle dish with sugar snap peas, ginger, Ponzu, a tofu that said it was “roasted” and a kelp broth.  Really quite tasty- especially the roasted tofu.  How one roasts tofu remains a mystery.  I just picked it up a Golden Produce.

September Issue

After a long work week in LA, I got back yesterday.  The bf and I went with friends last night to the Kabuki for the film September Issue, the documentary of the production of the 2007 September issue or Vogue – the largest issue in history at something like 800 pages.

The Kabuki is in SF’s Japantown.  I had gone from one Japantown (LA’s Little Tokyo) to another.  We had dinner beforehand at the Sundance Hawaiian cafe – – which I guess is part of the theatre complex itself.  Featuring dishes like Spam and Eggs and Kahlua Pig (which was rather good, by the way!) the atmosphere is a bit sterile for what they seem to be attempting.  But it is convenient if you want to drop by and eat before a film.

The Kabuki offers assigned seating so we then went to meet friends at the upstairs bar rather than waiting through commercials in the theatre itself.  Our bartender happened to be this dreamy surfer-vibe guy who reminded me of the tall surfer doofus character in Scooby-Doo.   His girlfriend must make him spend a small fortune on hair products and styling.  And he must practice his head-flick because he never actually had to touch his hair to get it out of his eyes, although it was that long and straight.  He was wearing my John Varvatos v-neck cocoa brown tee which I got back in July at the Nordie’s sale.

The movie was fun – kind of Project Runway meets Big Brother.  I noticed that basically only one of Anna Wintour’s employees felt free to talk – creative editor and photo stylist Grace Coddington.  She being either (or both) so near retirement or so instrumental to Vogue that she doesn’t have the same level of fear for her career as everyone else.  Not that she had anything terribly nasty or even juicy to say about Anna Wintour.  It was clear that Wintour does not run a democracy – but what big company does?  Vogue is a creative endeavor – but it’s the creative vision of apparently very few people with a lot of help.  She didn’t seem to go about making outrageous demands, but you did see the obvious low-level assistants scurry about like cockroaches on crack whenever something was needed.  Its NYC and my impression is that people take their career ambitions quite seriously.

Devil Wears Prada it did not seem to be.

Good morning, Angels!

After the long weekend, I was in LA for work again.  I stayed in Little Tokyo, at a Japanese package tourist hotel.  Queer,  in a different way.  Teenage girls all dressed alike in denim jumpers with bows and shiny black shoes;  businessmen in full suits furiously smoking in front;  store clerks bowing as they hand back change at the register;  store shelves filled with stuff you have no idea what it is or is made of.  Except for the Hawaiian Host chocolates.  I’m just surprised Hawaiian Host doesn’t have a chocolate covered squid or kelp product.

It was actually fun being down in LA for work for the week because that is where all the people I work with are located.  When I am working in SF (which is most of the time) I am mostly a disembodied voice on a speakerphone at project meetings.  And as the project manager, its mostly me giving out instructions.

Being there let’s me get to know people a bit better and vice-versa.  And its no surprise that you can get a lot more done that way as well – communication is more than just voice, so working by phone and email and IM really does take more work than face to face.

I’m tempted to start one of the meetings with “Good morning, Angels” but a) many are too young to get it and b) it just seems too sexist now to even make a good joke.

Still, it was good to get back to cooler SF after a week with heat and smoke from the LA fires.  The moon was an eery beautiful deep yellow each night, I think because of all the dust in the air.

And now here we are with rain and thunder.  Not September-ish at all.