Noodling in the City

This month was a nice balance of contract, volunteer and networking opportunities, and I even squeezed in a bit of personal writing.  They are all learning experiences, which have also bolstered my confidence, and I believe will culminate in attaining that elusive job.  I worked a rather interesting conference, and it’s amazing how much they cost to attend.  I like to think my outings with my friend Wendy are mini-conferences that for a nominal fee I could get a fairly good return on my investment, especially where food and art is concerned.

We were back in the Mission at the art space, “Secret Alley,” for the release of Lucky Peach’s third issue (Cooks and Chefs) by McSweeney’s Publishing.  Chef Ryan Farrar of 4505 Meats and Magnolia Brewery provided scrumptious pork chicharrones and lovely brews.  Lucky Peach under the McSweeney’s imprimatur is the creation of New Yorkers Chef/Owner David Chang of Momofuku, writer Peter Meehan, and Zero Point Zero Production—producers of the Emmy Award–winning Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.   It’s edgy food-writing with a literary bent a la Chef Bourdain.

Wendy and I hung out for as long as the pork snacks, pizza slices and beer could sustain us, after which we made a beeline for Nombe, the Japanese restaurant where we ended up when we were in the neighborhood last.  Its hand-made ramen wasn’t available at that time.  But thankfully, at least for us, the place this night wasn’t bursting at the seams.  We went ahead and ordered bowls for ourselves, and the noodles had that nice “chew” one would expect from such a dish.  Noodles in Asian culture signify a long life. However, in the short term, I will take a good month.

Comfort in Bones

Vertebrate Street

After a rather tough month-long contract job, it was nice to be back in the city with an old friend for “Bones – 20th Street Corridor Crawl,” sponsored by Meatpaper magazine in the Mission a few weeks ago.

Wendy and I would often catch up during these events put together by the magazine, which were held in SFMOMA until last year.  Organizers decided to find other venues and, judging from this event, more creative ways to promote its mission as an art and meat culture journal.  The crawl deftly accomplished this goal, seamlessly weaving themes into an interactive performance art with its participants.  The 20th Street corridor south of Mission is rather industrial, dotted with small art galleries and restaurants, not the least of which include Flour + water.  So it made perfect sense.  Personally it gave me an opportunity to re-discover the Mission as an eating destination and to witness the “hipster” trend developing in the predominantly Latino enclave.

Nouvelle Art: A Dessert

Wendy and I started on Alabama Street at the soon-to-open Salumeria for the oxtail bone marrow and rabe arancini, delicate and lovely deep-fried risotto balls with a horseradish fonduta.   We worked our way up to Kadist Foundation on Folsom for Leah Rosenberg’s twist on dessert, gelatin layers of parsnips, carrots, beet and celery with a potent ginger root-beer cocktail.  It was a tight squeeze into Meatpaper/Rebar on Shotwell for Danish sandwiches from Bar Tartine.  As soon as Wendy and I had our nibble of pig’s ear, we headed toward Mission for David Wilson’s garage where a hot aluminum cauldron of soothing broth from 50 pounds of bones channeled the most basic form of cooking from a communal pot under a more-than-toasty fire.

After we had our fill of tastings, Wendy and I cooled our heels in a Japanese restaurant on Mission between 20th and 21st called Nombe, where I had grilled whole squid and eggplant and Wendy ordered egg custard with umi, a delightful savory dessert or palate cleanser to end our night out.  Despite our unique culinary excursion, Latin America is still the heart of the Mission, where, even on a late rainy evening, one could still grab a quick and tasty grub of dogs or sausages with sautéed peppers and onions from the makeshift flat-top of an undeterred street vendor.