Monthly Archives: December 2010

submission

Here’s the sample review I submitted for that food writer job. Might as well put it on the Internet!

What’s in a Name?

Naming your restaurant Locavore seems cynical and calculated, an obvious ploy to lure in the farm-to-table masses. Similar to Manhattan’s new bistro Foodie, you can almost hear the groan of sophisticated diners everywhere, another sign our food-obsessed culture has jumped the shark.

Yet there is an earnestness to chef/owner Jason Moniz’s new Bernal Heights venture (100% local meat and produce, no exceptions) that makes it easy to forgive the name. Not to mention, he cooks a damn fine meal.

On a recent Wednesday night, Locavore was filled to the brim. The menu rotates daily, and the kitchen had just run out of one of Moniz’s “signature dishes” (if a six-week-old restaurant can really boast such a thing), the pork chop au jus.

No matter, as the remaining options more than made up for the pork that got away. An inventive salad of char-grilled cabbage, apple, turnip and lardon only suffered from a lack of warmth on this chilly San Francisco night. Fresh fettuccine with clams and ever-so-in-season crab, with a kiss of garlic, white wine and olive oil, brooked no complaints. Locavore’s burger only lost points for overpowering its mild, house-smoked bacon topper with a heady mix of chuck, brisket and short rib. Even a simple side of collard greens, cooked with only salt and butter, had enough flavor to hold their own. All told, an excellent showcase of local ingredients, well-prepared.

Not everything was pitch-perfect, certainly. Tables were crammed elbow-to-elbow along the walls, exposing a large open area in the restaurant’s center, a layout that lacked both intimacy and personal space. The décor — black and white photos of barnyard animals and produce — again ran the risk of over-selling Moniz’s point. But with ingredients this good, and chef skills to match, you could maybe even get away with calling your restaurant Foodie.

But probably not.

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keep it together

After yesterday’s rejection, I brushed myself off and tried to get back on the horse, e-mailing other local connections about freelancing opportunities. I was shot down in two instances, adding fuel to my insufferable pity party.

Me: Why did I even move to San Francisco?
SK: Shut your face.*

Needless to say, I’m feeling a bit…fragile right now. Today I e-mailed the Edible Queens publisher to say I will be visiting New York in January.

Me: Can we meet up?
Her: Uh-oh. Sure!

Uh-oh?! Of course I totally freaked out and thought the magazine was closing or I was being fired. I immediately called her at home and said “Oh my god what’s going on?!” She was like, “Um, nothing. I said uh-oh because I thought you were going to quit.”

Heh heh, oops. Time to hibernate and stop acting like a weirdo.

*not a direct quote

and now, for something completely different

I am waiting on Big Writing News so I need to think about something else. Anything else.

  • I tried fire cupping this week because I had a Groupon. I got lost on the way to the appointment and fell in a gully. WTF, California.
  • The kitties are starting to get cozy. I watched Grayskull lick Bean’s face for at least five minutes the other night. SK thinks it was non-consensual.
  • Don’t tell the guys, but I am a huge Nutcracker fan. We are seeing the SF ballet perform it on Tuesday night. I’m all aflutter.

break-a my stride

After the apartment viewing, SK and I drove up to Petaluma for lunch with a friend. We fantasized what we’d do if we got the apartment. “We could paint the walls plaid and install a corn dog machine…” In the midst of our reverie, the phone rang- it was Linda! I freaked out and immediately hung up on her. She called right back.

“Me and Frank were talking about it and we thought you guys were a really good fit. If you want the apartment, it’s yours.”

skaljfl;asjdflsadfskl!!!!

They had started showing it to other people, then decided they liked us most. They even turned down a couple who tried to scoop it up by paying $75 more in rent. Frank said, “You can’t buy us!”

We signed a lease the next day. At the signing, Linda was kind enough to point out that I had cream cheese on my sport coat. “Honey, you’re wearin’ your breakfast!” She also showed us pictures on her cell phone, which she said her daughter faxed (read: texted) to her.

I love these people. After signing the lease, we all hugged it out. I asked to take a picture and Linda said, “Okay, but I better not see it on YouTube!” which probably means this blog.

No landlord pics, but here’s a few of our new place:

que lindo suena

Saturday morning, SK and I drove to Potrero Hill in the rain to meet the lovely landlords, Frank and Linda.

Frank wore a leather biker’s cap and his denim shirt was extra unbuttoned, which is less gay than it sounds. Linda had short, no-nonsense hair and “the big jewelry of the Southwest,” as SK described it. The couple lived in Phoenix, driving up in an RV to show the apartment.

Frank was a teddy bear. He had grown up in the house, and inherited it when his mom passed away. He charmed us with stories of making wine in the garage and working as an old-school San Francisco butcher (before Safeway killed his business). Though friendly enough, Linda was less chatty- the businessman of the pair. With her tidy clipboard and direct manner, we suspected she might chide Frank for his generous heart. “Sometimes I think you just fell off the turnip truck!”

As predicted, we fell head-over-heels for the apartment. It was quirky and huge and enormously charming. It boasted two chandeliers, a wood-paneled kitchen, a built-in terrarium, a non-functional fireplace, and a spare bedroom with sunshine-yellow walls. It felt lived-in and loved, welcoming and warm.

Or, as SK put it, “this is a home.”

We immediately blurted out our desire to live there. Linda said that was nice, and handed us a lengthy application to fill out. She said they would be showing the apartment all weekend. As we attacked the paperwork, another couple arrived to see the place. I calmly thought to myself, “Get out of our house before I cut you.”

The Courtship

For many weeks, SK and I have been trawling the depths of Craigslist apartment listings, well in advance of our move date (Feb. 1). It’s like looking at personal ads before the divorce papers come through.

It’s starting to get real though, and last Sunday SK stumbled on the Holy Grail of SF apartments. Affordable rent, huge floorspace, decent neighborhood, vintage architecture, hardwood floors, back deck, washer/dryer, etc. She forwarded me the listing, to which I replied- SAJFDASKFDASDFJ!!!! We immediately set up a viewing for this Saturday at 9am, giving me a week to freak out. I did some weird, obsessive things, like a) calling the landlady to make sure we had the absolute first appointment for a viewing and b) searching her on Facebook. I was worried I’d lose my impulse control and send her a 3am e-mail: “Can’t wait to meet you! xoxo”

On Tuesday night, we took a little field trip to Potrero Hill for an unscheduled apartment visit. Things we discovered:

-We had never seen a more nondescript house. Huge and tan, with cement walls on the first floor and siding on the second. Very hard to tell how it looked inside. The current tenants were home, so SK told me to stop peering in the windows.

-One block up the hill was a jaw-droppingly gorgeous park with epic views of the city skyline.

-The neighborhood itself was muy sleepy, but within a 10-minute walk we were in the Mission, arguably the city’s coolest neighborhood (with the best Mexican food). I ate shrimp tacos that made me want to cry or find Jesus or marry the apartment.

On Friday night at a party, I couldn’t stop talking about how nervous I was to meet the landlady. People were kind. They said things like, “Just be yourself, Jesse, and she’ll be sure to like you” and “You might not even like the apartment!”

Warm words for the sweaty young squire, but they did little good. I was well past the point of playing it cool.