No. 21: The Existential Issue (Sort of)

October 2010

This should really be subtitled, the procrastination issue, but I am too lazy to go back and see if I’ve done that theme already and since I wasn’t physically at the last dinner, but otherwise experiencing my own dining experiences… or to put it in a more existential way, did this last dinner really take place—was it the meaty taste sensation I can only imagine, since I wasn’t there?

If a dinner happened and you weren’t there, did it really happen… something like that.

I found this book a few months ago—How to Be an Existentialist by Gary Cox. I really wanted to learn about this and be able to toss the term around, put it into practice in my own misguided life, but again, my own book How to Procrastinate Like Nobody Else, just got in the way.

I finally got my dinner notes together this morning, but as soon as I sat down and selected Baskerville as my font of the moment, I decided that I had to make the trip to Green Apple, to find that damn book on existentialism—maybe it would be in the remainder section too. It wasn’t.

I bought it and put it on the desk with a few other unopened books.

Does this existential thing have anything to do with maybe just putting down a lot of words that just kind of go nowhere? Or could it have something to do with getting up and toasting a few slices of bread—walnut levain—the butter has been out overnight and is just the way I like it, soft and spreadable—Carole seems to like hers hard and cold—do we get along?

Well, here goes… Fork Fest gathering #21 on August 28 was hosted by Sandra and Sam at Sandra’s happy little house on a sunny day, with Sam stepping up, I think for the second time, to entice and fill us all (even though I wasn’t there) with his brand of spicy, slathered meats.

But first, arriving at various times we had Carole, Carmine, Hideo, Karl, Karin and the lovely Uma—along with special guests Peter & Amy—and let’s not forget the most adorable little leg humper, Theo.

Before I start, let me stop, or at least wander off the path a bit… if only to commend the team of H & W, for their tongue twisting, teaser of a menu.

I guess right here I should say we’ve all pretty much come up with some wild ingredients, so we all deserve praise of some sort… but with my work in catering, I constantly have to memorize as much as I can about this or that item and one of my least favorite things to hear, as I pass around some five pound serving platter with delicate pinky-sized hors d’oeuvres, tossing about on it, is, “What is it?”

“Hamachi in [a] Coronet with Sake Jalapeno Onion Miso Viniagrette” (it’s tuna in a frickin’ cone!)

I especially hate these little mini-burger things—fat fingered people seem to flock to them, without question, but others just look at them. How hard is it to see that it’s a very small hamburger?

So where was I? oh yes… Appetizers… wait, hors d’oeuvres. Consisted of a delicious cheese selection—which sounds like an Italian driving vacation, gone slightly bad—head to La Tur, make a right at Cotswald, a u-turn at Robiola, and it’ll be there on your left. Get yourself a Racer 5 and relax.

Me and cheese, we just have this thing, but it’s mostly like this—if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t want to eat it, or be it, or not be it, like this existential thing, but anyway, there were also some delicious olives, with long drawn out titles, like, oil-cured french black olives and Nic… nish… Nicoise… but I’d curl my tongue around those olives any day, and perhaps that is how they are best pronounced, with the pit jostling around your tongue. Lummy.

Once the table was set and the hors d’oeuvres got all sorted out, the main course was presented with a great amount of Oklahoma flourish, by Sam the meat man and his mustard honey glaze and so on… these are some consonants I can get into—the B’s and P’s… don’t pucker those B’s don’t butcher those P’s… enunciate and pass the… Ribs….

Yes, I had visions of Sam, storming the kitchen at T-Rex, rustling up all the meaty advice he could saddle and then bringing it on in, for all the folks at the “T-Bar-Sandy-Ranch” and with a healthy dollop of some that south, way south, of the border, Peruvian Potato Salad, made with hard cooked eggs, pickled red onions, black olives, corn segments with peanut-ricotta salata sauce (talk about a lotta… ) and of course, in this coner, Peruvian Potatoes!!!!!

But wait… back at the casita on el mesa, we still had… yes, I know that once we get into the meat of things, it’s hard to get back to the sauteed squash with shallots and parsley and the Asian slaw (did the chinese invent coleslaw, too?) with red cabbage, napa cabbage, shredded carrots, julienned scallions, cilantro and edamame with sesame oil, yuzu, rice vinegar and mirin dressing.

Holy existential turn left at the… whew… I’m almost out of ink and speaking of meat again, ha, ha, last night we had these tasty Korean Rib things from Trader Joes… I’d have to go out and dig through the recycle to get the exact name, but I suppose that if you hit the meat section, at TJ’s—they’ll be there and that meat’ll be ready to fall off the bone, sort of.

Before I leave the main course and all and head into dessert, or should I just say, as I head into dessert… well, anyway, Carole’s pa, is coming up on ninety or thereabouts and yesterday, after a vegan brunch at The Plant Café, on the embarcadero we found ourselves, drizzled and grizzled in our Sunday best, wandering about in the Ferry Building and bringing home a sampling of cupcakes from Miette…

Noc noc

Qui est là?


Miette qui?

Me ate all the cupcakes and then them croissants, urp! (my lousianna bayou joke)

Très Tasty, y’all… but you already knew that, didn’t you? I just kept thinking of the little girl in City of Lost Children… Miette, Miette….

Yes, even the meatiest of meals has to end with something soft and sweet and again, I wasn’t there, but I’ll bet the polenta pound cake with strawberries soaked in port and dazzled with whipped cream, was a nice way to end it all and saddle up for the ride back across the bay.

I was going to do a bit on our brunch experience at THE PLANT café organic, but there’s only so much I can say about a veggie beet burger, or the joy I get from having Carole’s father get annoyed because there was only one slice of avocado on one side of his sandwich and a few other things.

I could see the joy in the servers’ eyes….

So I will instead give a big shout out to the simple pleasures I found at the Lucky Penny.

Yes, located right next door to Trader Joe’s on Masonic, the Lucky Penny, which was once known as the Copper Penny, has some amazing pancakes.

Are you a “tall stack” fan? I am, and usually, a tall stack is pretty short or always over-priced, but I had this hunger the other day, after knocking over a crowd of russian grandparents on a spree in TJ’s and I needed a place to recuperate and there it was—the LP.

I was amazed to find that a tall stack cost only about $5.50 and when it arrived, with two eggs over-easy on the side, I was equally impressed that it was both tall and stacked—it was a heap of pancakes and tasty too. Not only all that, but I got it, at like, 2 p.m.

I also liked that I walked in and they said, “sit anywhere” and I imagined myself with a good book and a tall-stack, lounging away the day on the plush 60’s-era décor, with no one in sight. I think the place does a booming nighttime business, but days are all about you and your tall-stack, all alone.

And speaking of being all alone, while you were all dining on fine things, I was up in the Sierra again, clomping out John Muir Trail #10 and enjoying the best that freeze-dried fare has to offer, while Sam was over in London (I gather) alone, maybe with his daughter, sampling the fish and chips, right?

So once Sam’s ribs have settled with your existential self, and you find you’re needing some substantail carbs, head on over to the Lucky Penny, scrunch your butt across them there lovely noggy-hide booths and think about when you’re gonna holler up and shout, Dinner at our place.

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