27 February 2015

Photo Caption

Standing on
the platform
on a fiercely
cold and brilliantly
sunny February day
with his back to the
track, not watching
for the next train,
the commuter
tilts his chin up
to the sky, eyes
closed, dreaming of
the summer
that will come,

26 February 2015

In Which California Avocados Meet Moroccan Clementines

In two of the excellent meals we had in San Francisco last week, I ordered an avocado/citrus salad.

At Gialina, it was "blood orange & avocado salad with farro, fennel & goat gouda". [Gialina is low key and serves phenomenally fabulous pizza with a magical perfect crust.] A few days later, it was "california avocado salad with fennel, celery, citrus vinaigrette", at the Presidio Social Club. [PSC is a nostalgic throwback, like an upscale yacht club with great food and a daily Manhattan.] I loved both salads. The avocado provided lushness, the citrus made them sparkle.

Then, driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Cruz, we found a guy selling fruit out of the back of a truck in a bug out overlooking the ocean. He had boxes of tiny, jewel-toned avocados, each about the size of a kiwi and five for a dollar. Twenty cents for an avocado! I bought five even though I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, and we were flying back to New York at the crack of dawn the next day.

Yes, reader, those avocados came home with me. A few days on the kitchen counter and they ripened up to a nice black. And I diced them, and added celery and clementines (alas, from Morocco, not California), and a splash of oil and vinegar, and yes. It's a great salad.

Avocado, Celery, Clementine salad

1 stalk of celery
2 clementines
1 ripe Haas avocado
1 T. olive oil
1 T. mild vinegar (I like the UniĆ³ Riesling vinegar, but you could use a champagne vinegar or a cider vinegar)
salt & pepper to taste

Finely slice the celery, less than 1/8" thick. (I know: fussy knife work.) Place in bowl. Peel the clementines. Working over the bowl, do your best to filet them - remove all of the flesh from each segment and drop the flesh in the bowl. (Yes: more fussy knife work. You could just cut each segment in half, if you must.) Peel and pit the avocado, and dice into 1/2" chunks. Add to celery and clementine. Add oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss gently with a big spoon. Serve immediately.

Serves two.

22 February 2015

The non-ski, non-beach February break vacation

We just spent the winter break in San Francisco. My sister-in-law lives there, and we hadn't been to visit in a long time - and the girl child had never been. Between the three of us, we took about 1500 pictures - though that includes about 300 that my husband took accidentally while standing still with the shutter going off at his hip, like some kind of weird performance art. Here are the highlights - I think it's 22 photos.

We had lunch at Bacon Bacon. They have a mechanical ride-on pig. Everything has bacon in or on it.

The child went in the sea. Air temperature was great; ocean only good for crazy people and 11 year olds.

We had ice cream for breakfast, Secret Breakfast from Humphry Slocombe, because duh, cornflakes.

We, of course, rode the cable cars and hung off the sides.

I spotted a pair of large beige underpants in a window.

We went to the top of the Coit Tower, where you could see for miles. And the sky was blue.

The citrus available at the farmers markets was astonishingly good and varied.

This little angel lived at the entrance to a Sausalito houseboat.

This pig decorated another Sausalito houseboat. One of the houseboats was for sale, for a mere $799K.

Fort Cronkhite. Another place where we went to the beach. In February in Northern California.

I do like a ruin. This is part of a gun emplacement in the Marin Headlands.

Mandatory photo of iconic International Orange bridge, which we crossed a number of times.

The National Cemetery is - as they all are - moving. At the gates to the rear entrance is engraved Archibald MacLeish's poem The Young Dead Soldiers.

In Golden Gate Park, there are casting pools. And an angler's lodge - complete with a stained glass fly. An elegant older man told us all about the casting pools - and then climbed in and demonstrated, beautifully.

There were flowers blooming every where. In February.

We stumbled upon this astonishing building. It was a warehouse, supplying goods like mops and toilet paper to ships departing the Kaiser Shipyards for WWII.

We took the ferry to Alcatraz, where we took many many pictures of rusted metal, crazed paint, and crumbling cement.

And we got to see (most of) the Ai Weiwei exhibit.

Ai Weiwei rendered Edward Snowden (and 175 other prisoners) in LEGO bricks.

The Exploratorium is amazing. This picture sort of looks like a roiling wine glass - but it's about three feet in diameter and demonstrates fluid dynamics. I took almost no pictures there because we were having way too much fun.

One day, we rented a convertible to drive down to just south of Santa Cruz, to visit one of my aunts. We took the Pacific Coast Highway down, and Skyline Ridge back. It was a glorious day.

And we ate really well, because San Francisco is a great restaurant & farmers market town. The high point was a lovely meal in the cafe at Chez Panisse, with a formerly imaginary friend and her husband. And no, I didn't steal one of the water glasses.

It was an awesomely fun week in the sun.

02 February 2015

Monday Amusements

The (young) woman next to me on the train is putting on make up and watching "I Love Lucy".

Meanwhile, I am reading the New York Times, cover to cover, as I am wont to do. Actually that's not quite true; the sports section rarely makes it past the recycling bin on the way into the house.

I love reading Margalit Fox's obituaries in the Times. A couple of days ago brought a lovely one for cruciverbalist Bernice Gordon. It was illustrated by a delicious photo of Mrs. Gordon, in front of a sea of colorful dictionaries, wearing a red shirt, vermilion nail polish, and fuchsia lipstick. Best might be the reveal that Gordon once did a set of commissioned puzzles for Xaviera Hollander, blue clues and all. Today's gem: Fox calls "Harry The Dirty Dog" a "cautionary ablutionary tale".

Elsewhere in the Times, I gasped at a heretofore new to me plural of a compound noun: culs-de-sac. That was in an article about merchandising tie-ins for the coming movie release of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was not one of "the female readers who passed the book around their suburban culs-de-sac" but I did read the article, bemused at the idea of Target selling vibrating love rings. Where would you look for such a thing? Next to the book? Near the condoms? Alongside the toothpaste?

Back to that plural: is culs-de-sac really the right plural? Cul-de-sac translates as bottom of the sack - which is the more important part? When you make a whole bunch of that certain summery drink, you make gins and tonic - gin being the important substance. In a group of Attorneys General, they are lawyers first, "generals" second. Isn't the sack the more important part, the head? After all, the "sack" is the whole of the dead-end road, and the "bottom" is the end where you have to turn around. I dunno. I was intrigued to find it in the first place.

It's been a rich full day, and it's not even noon.