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Ferry Plaza Food Extravaganza

13 August 2007 » In Bay Area, Food » No Comments

Mushroom Shop

So I was going to write a long post, nay, multiple long posts about my new job, moving to San Francisco, how cool my new place is, how much I love living here, etc, etc, etc. You know, the usual stuff from someone who moves from suburbia of South Bay to the coolest city in the country. But I’ll save you the grief of reading through that and summarize:

  1. My new job (at Outspark) is cool. I get to build platforms to support games that we publish and all these games include some type of social interaction. So, Web 2.0 + games = profit!
  2. Our first game — Fiesta — is blazing through our target demographic like Homer Simpson through week-old donut bucket behind Kwik-E-Mart.
  3. San Francisco rocks. You should try living here at least once.
  4. On second thought, no, don’t try living here, it’s crowded and expensive enough as-is. You can visit, but if you do, please, never, ever call it San Fran. Or SF. Or, heaven forbid, Frisco. The locals call it “the city”, but for you it’s San Francisco. St. Francis of Assisi, mkay? Welcome.
  5. You should vote for my submission to the Passport theme photo contest at JPG Mag. Really. All the cool kids are doing it.
Cowgirl Creamery

Let’s move on to the real topic. Even before I moved to the city, I kept hearing that the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is something to be experienced. So this past weekend, I got up early enough (yes, 10 am, I blame my co-workers for the previous night) and went to “experience” it. My place is just over a mile from the Ferry Building and it’s a very nice walk along Embarcadero and all the piers. Just beautiful, especially on a cool, breezy morning.
The market itself is outside, along the front of the building, but most of it is on the rear plaza overlooking the Bay. Walking through it is enough to make you salivate: fresh vegetables piled high on the tables, golden honey glistening under the sun, heirloom tomatoes showing their multi-hued juiciness to the public. I saw a stall that sold not fewer than 6 different types of pluot. I tasted (and bought) Snow Giant white peaches that were so sweet and tender that you don’t even have to chew them. I lost count of the word “organic” written on the product signs. And if you tire or get hungry, like I did, just walk to one of the food stalls on the south side, get yourself a nice California-style omelet, salad, or sandwich, and enjoy it while sitting by the water and thinking how awesome this place is.

Caviar Cafe

Still with me? Good, it’s not over yet. There’s also the Ferry Building itself, which I can unabashedly and without slightest exaggeration call “foodie heaven”. From Cowgirl Creamery, making dozens of varieties of cheeses and creams, to I Preferiti di Boriana, giving you a taste of Tuscany, to Recchiuti Confections, that looks nothing more like Apple Store, but for chocolates. And then there is Tsar Nicoulai Caviar Cafe, which surprised even me with their selection. Plus, there are restaurants, cafes, wine shop, gelateria, and even a bookshop, to complete the picture. Quite awesome, to sum it up, and a great place to spend a few hours. Or a day. And a bunch of your money. The only other place I’ve seen anything like it is Paris.
Granted, Mountain View Farmers Market is quite good and is cheaper. But then, it is in Mountain View.
So if you do visit San Francisco — or if you live here, but haven’t bothered to visit the market — do yourself a favor and get over to Ferry Building on a nice Saturday morning. You won’t regret it.

Notes from PHP Québec 2006

03 April 2006 » In Food, PHP, Talks » 1 Comment

I just got back from Montreal where I gave two talks at the PHP Québec conference: one on PHP 6 and Unicode and another on PHP-GTK 2. Both of my sessions were full and I got very positive comments from the attendees. I think I am getting close to figuring out the right proportions of theory, examples, and demos that should be present in a talk.
For PHP-GTK 2, I showed off a couple of apps that I quickly wrote a few days before and that make use of Yahoo! developer APIs. The first one lets you pick two airports and calculates the distance between them as well as showing the local maps and weather info. The second one uses Flickr API to display a continuous grid of latest images from These were about 100-200 lines of code total each, so, of course, Rasmus had to brand them as Pidgets.
The conference itself was well organized and attended and had a number of interesting talks. Kudos to Sylvan, Yann, and others for their efforts.
The post conference program for each day was full as well. On Thursday night we had a dinner for speakers and organizers at the always excellent À la Decouverte, a small and cozy restaurant with a big taste. I had marinated snails with mushrooms in garlic butter and phylo dough for appetizer, and ostrich medallions in blueberry sauce for main course, and both were delicious.
On Friday night we made a visit to the ever popular Les Deux Pierrots which is hard to describe to someone who’s never been there before. Two bands alternate on the stage and play anything from popular rock tunes (think Take Me Out) to French camping songs to something resembling a hoedown. The level of energy is amazing, and you can’t help being pulled into the manic foot-stomping/hand-clapping atmosphere. Great place to let off steam, basically.
And Saturday morning found us at the Sucrerie de la Montagne, a “sugar shack” outside Montreal that lets you take a peek into the process of obtaining and making maple syrup and also manages to feed hundreds of visitors an hour at the rustic wooden tables in its giant restaurant. The rule of thumb is, you have a big (> 1 liter) bottle of syrup on the table and it has to be gone by the end of the meal. So you put maple syrup on and into everything: bread, pea soup, omelette, sausages, meat pie, mashed potatoes, pancakes, and coffee. We almost managed to finish ours.
Pics should be coming up soon.

Soup du Jour

21 September 2005 » In Food, Funny » 5 Comments

Seen on the cafeteria lunch menu at work:

Stockpot: Scarlet Runner Bean Soup with Ham Hocks

I hesitate to ask what “scarlet runner” means in this context. And in general, to think of it. Although, mmmm, ham hocks.


03 October 2003 » In Food » 3 Comments

Having enjoyed the pleasures of sangria during my trip to Europe this summer, I wanted to try and make it at home. The recipe below is probably the best one I have found so far. Since this was a trial run, I simply bought a jug of Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon, but you can and perhaps should substitute somewhat better wine. I also replaced the lemon with a ripe nectarine, and resulting beverage ended up quite tasty.
1.5L Dry Red Wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
1 cup Sugar
3-4 oz plain Brandy
1 large Lemon, sliced
1 large Orange, sliced
1 large Apple, cut into thin sections.
Mixing instructions
Mix these altogether in a large container, stir, and let sit for 18-24 hours. Yes, I know that’s a LONG time, but it’s well worth the wait. A much more delightful sangria is produced when the fruit juice blends with the wine by osmosis than by stirring. (By the way, you should let it sit in the refridgerator during this long interim). When you are ready to drink it 18-24 hours later, stir it up again, and add sugar or brandy to taste, it should be fairly strong and fairly sweet, almost syrupy. Then, cut the mixture with some sort of bubbly water, orange or lemon flavored if possibly, but plain bubbly water is fine, until it seems to have a thinner, more wine like consistency. Drink and enjoy.

Burrrr. Eat. Oh!

25 June 2003 » In Food » 2 Comments

A friend of mine told me about Chipotle. They have great ads in the “Play” section of their website – highly entertaining. I wonder if their burritos are as good as the ones at Anna’s Taqueria here in Brookline. I guess I’ll have to try them when I’m out in San Francisco. Yum.