Posts Tagged ‘food’

My first time flying business class

July 8th, 2018

Business class flight to Athens
 

When flying economy these days it’s fairly common to get an email offer to bid on an upgrade. Typically I place the lowest bid possible and figure there’s no chance I’ll get the upgrade, because what have I got to lose?

So imagine my surprise when Aegean actually accepted my lowball bid on a flight from Stockholm to Athens. For 100 euros I could experience the glamorous lifestyle we’ve all dreamed up, shoeing away the plebes as I lived it up like the king of the skies.

After checking in on the Aegean app, I noticed my boarding pass said “Fast Track” on it. Sure enough at the security gate I bypassed the line (to the extent there even was a line) and got cleared to enter the secure area within a minute.

Next stop: the airport lounge. The first problem was finding the right one as the Stockholm airport has three lounges. After some poking around I found my pass gave me access to the Star Alliance lounge. To enter I had to scan the boarding pass on my phone before the gate would let me in. This went off without a hitch.

The lounge was surprisingly large — and busy. Turns out many other folks have access to this exclusive world of luxury, including random looking people wearing t-shirts and families with far too many upset babies. Yet it wasn’t all bad. There were a plethora of outlets to recharge my laptop and phone, reasonably fast wifi, and a buffet not unlike a continental breakfast at a hotel — but with the addition of beer and wine.

The last part about the buffet is probably the secret sauce to it all. Between the janitorial staff accidentally ramming my chair no matter where I sat and the babies who couldn’t stop screaming, give me a little cheese and wine and I’ll let everything else slide.

Meanwhile, my flight was delayed three times. “No worries,” I thought to myself as I stuffed another buttered roll filled with cheese into my mouth. “It’s a Greek airline. Of course they’re not on time.”

When the screen in the lounge eventually said my flight was boarding, I bolted to the bathroom to pee out all the coffee and wine in my bladder before heading to the gate. As it turned out the flight was still a good half hour away from boarding. When boarding did begin, business class was first, and I was in the front row! So I got to watch all the economy class ruffians scuttle past me on the way to their inferior seats.

On this particular flight the business class seating arrangement wasn’t the luxury I’d imagined. The first row of six seats had been converted into four seats, with the middle seats serving as small trays. That one row — for a total of four seats — was the entirety of the business class section. We did have a special bathroom, and of course the curtain to shield us from the unwashed masses behind us.

The four of us had our own flight attendant who began the flight by offering us water, juice, or wine in a glass — an actual glass! — before collecting them and handing us warm cotton cloths to clean our hands with. Only the best for a posh lot like us.

I was just getting into a movie on my laptop when the flight attendant returned with my appetizer.

At this point I’d seen the menu, and realized something was amiss; the passenger next to me had requested the meal of her choice, but I was never presented with the option to take a specific meal plan. Perhaps something got lost in translation with this upgrade auction.

For the appetizer this was fine; grilled squid over a fava bean puree met my pescetarian diet restrictions, and although I’m not a fan of squid in general it was grilled to perfection and presented as though it were a fine dining restaurant quality dish. I enjoyed it. When the option of a beef or chicken entree came around, I was jealous of my neighbor whose vegetarian order scored her vegetable pasta. I opted to skip this meal and hoped the staff enjoyed it instead.

In the interest of honesty I’d gorged myself at the lounge so much that food wasn’t high on my list of priorities anyway. By the time the deserts came around and a large baklava was sitting in front of me I could barely finish half of it.

Is it possible to get bored of luxury, I wondered? If only they’d let me have another glass of wine or two, would I have realized the folly of this class divide and run down the aisle of economy class yelling “let them eat baklava?”

In all seriousness what I got most out of my business class travel was not on board the flight, but waiting for the delayed flight in a nice airport lounge. In hindsight perhaps the smart move would have been to pay the lounge’s entry fee when I realized my flight was running late. After exiting the airport my status dissipated anyway, and I had to shove my way onto an overcrowded bus just like everyone else.

On “Mayochup”

April 14th, 2018


 

Today I spotted a funny Washington Post article titled Heinz promotes its new ‘mayochup’ and sparks an international controversy. The gist is this: Heinz sells a condiment that’s a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise in other parts of the world and is gauging interest in bringing it to the US. There’s a few things about this so-called controversy that seem, well… ridiculous.

First, the “international” part of this controversy is mostly within the United States. Heinz and its parent company Kraft Heinz are both based in the US, and at least in the article much of the outrage comes from US citizens (including Puerto Ricans.) Many claim to have invented this unique condiment, but let’s be honest — anyone who’s ever thought to put mayonnaise and ketchup on a hamburger bun basically had the same idea.

Second, if you add relish to this mix you have Thousand Island dressing. I don’t know for certain the ratio would be ideal if you made it with Mayochup, but it goes to show that again, mixing mayo and ketchup is hardly a new idea, let alone bottling and selling it to Americans.

Third, the very concept of putting two condiments in the same jar is silly enough to have made one of the most memorable fake advertisements in the criminally underrated 90′s sketch comedy series Mr. Show. In the sketch two companies compete to combine mustard and mayonnaise with the brands Mayostard and Mustardayonnaise, which only escalates to an absurd yet somehow logical conclusion. Here’s the clip below:


 

The best part? Unlike Heinz, Mr. Show’s sketch repeatedly points out the problems with this idea. Not only is the amount of time it saves negligible, but mayonnaise expires quickly. In other words, the real controversy shouldn’t be who came up with the idea first, but whether the true motivation of Heinz is to sell a product with very little purpose but to go bad before you’ve finished using it, forcing you to purchase more.

So argue all you like over this manufactured outrage, but please excuse the rest of us for rightfully laughing it off.

Public notice: Beware of robots

May 29th, 2017

Public notice: Robots
 

The other day I noticed an inconspicuous flyer attached to a phone pole at 16th and Valencia. Upon further examination, this notice combines seemingly every stereotype about San Francisco circa 2017. Here’s the full text of the notice:

NOTICE OF OPERATION
 

From 5/23 to 6/5 automated delivery carts will be used at this location for the purpose of food delivery. Operation hours are 11 AM-4PM, 5 PM-12 AM Monday-Sunday.
 

Typically, the automated delivery carts will be supervised by a chaperone and loaded in a specially marked zone adjacent to the restaurant entry at 3109 16th St, Truly Mediterranean, during operation hours only.
 

If you have any concerns please contact:
 

Marble Robotics
1660 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
415-654-3207
 

For complaints or other related concerns, please contact 311.

https://www.sf311.org/

 

If you haven’t heard, Marble has partnered with Yelp’s Eat 24 food delivery service for short range food delivery. Their robots are basically small self-driving cars that drive along the sidewalks, which is why the board of supervisors is already itching to ban them. (Why they have to drive on the sidewalk is beyond me.)

Anyway, so to sum this all up, here’s why this notice is essentially the essence of 2017 San Francisco distilled into a single document:

  • Self-driving robots are seemingly everywhere, though they still require humans to watch over them.
  • San Franciscans are too lazy to walk to a restaurant to pick up their falafel, would rather order delivery online.
  • High tech robots stealing jobs from hard-working Americans.
  • A public notice is required for seemingly anything and everything.
  • The board of supervisors wants to ban it.

There aren’t many practical ways this could be more peak San Francisco, but that didn’t stop me from thinking of a few:

  • The robot could be programmed to smoke pot and piss on the sidewalk.
  • During its off hours, the robot could join political protests outside of City Hall.
  • At Critical Mass, the robot could somehow get into a fight with a bicyclist.
  • The robot could live in an overpriced apartment, sparking a wave of fully autonomous gentrification.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. See if you can come up with your own — unless you are a robot, in which case please don’t.

Recipe theft: Cafe Madeleine’s butter lettuce salad with goat cheese

April 28th, 2015

Butter lettuce salad

Every now and then you eat something at a cafe or restaurant that’s so good, you have to reverse engineer the recipe and make it yourself. Such is the case with San Francisco mini-chain Cafe Madeleine and their excellent butter lettuce salad.

Don’t know what butter lettuce is? Sometimes it’s called butterhead, Boston lettuce or bibb. You can find it at farmer’s markets, Whole Foods, Rainbow, etc., sold with the roots still attached. It’s kind of like romaine lettuce, except it’s actually good. Fuck romaine.

Vinaigrette:

  • Two parts olive oil
  • One part red wine vinegar

Do you really need directions? Pour it in a bottle and shake it up!
 

Salad:

  • Half a head of butter lettuce, washed and stems removed
  • Small handful of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
  • Half a radish, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 an avocado, sliced
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • A couple spoonfuls of goat cheese

Put everything in a bowl and drizzle some vinaigrette over the thing. Salt and pepper to taste. Boom, done!

La Cumbre’s new paint job boldly stakes claim to Mission-style burrito’s origin

April 20th, 2015

La Cumbre's new paint job

Recently Taqueria La Cumbre on Valencia got a fire engine red paint job. But far more bold than the color scheme is the claim painted on the building: “Birthplace of the Mission Style Burrito.”

As with any such claim, it’s a hotly contested one. As Wikipedia notes it’s not clear if Mission-style burritos were invented in San Francisco at all. Further adding to the confusion, La Cumbre’s “birthplace” claim refers to the building rather than La Cumbre because the burritos were originally sold there when a meat market occupied the space.

The truth is out there, but until someone invents a time machine we’ll never know for certain where Mission-style burritos came from. If anyone reading this happens to have a time machine and wants to research this, please give me a call — especially if it’s around lunch time.

Pica Pica applies for outdoor seating permit

July 15th, 2011

Pica Pica Permit

Everyone’s favorite Pokemon themed Venezualen eatery, Pica Pica has applied for an outdoor seating permit. By eating outside their establishment, one could combine the intoxicating smells of a delicious arepa with the intoxicating smells of intoxicating substances.

Sounds like a swell idea, although it’s not terribly clear where these tables would go. I’m assuming the only space to squeeze six tables would be along 15th, though the sidewalk there is not terribly wide.

Has Safeway gone too far?

May 29th, 2011

IMG_2309 IMG_2310 IMG_2312

While trapped at the Market St. Safeway during the rainstorm today, I made a shocking discovery: Safeway carries not one, but THREE brands of frozen chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs.

Does this alarm anyone else?

Why do we need to make food shaped like extinct animals? Are there children out there somewhere who refuse to eat nuggets not shaped like dinosaurs? “No mom, I can’t eat this, it’s not shaped like a dinosaur.” Clearly, such a child needs to be loaded with ADHD medication and spanked repeatedly, not indulged in his absurd food preferences.

Sure, Safeway has four isle-long freezers, but there has to be a better way to fill them than this.

What do you think, has Safeway gone too far this time?

Coffee roasting at home

February 10th, 2011

Coffee roasting

You’re looking at me like I’m crazy, but roasting your own coffee is where it’s at.

It’s pretty damn easy and it doesn’t take much to get started. I tinkered with roasting for years using nothing but a $3 electric popcorn popper I got from Goodwill. But you don’t even need that — Blue Bottle’s James Freeman got his start roasting coffee in his oven.

I got this particular roaster because it has a catalytic converter to reduce the smoke output. I also like the humor of the word “Professional” written on the plastic housing. It’s great for home use, but professional? Please.

There’s a number of places to buy raw coffee beans. Oakland-based e-tailer Sweet Marias is the best.

Anyway, I’ve been using the Nesco roaster for almost a month now, and give it two caffeinated thumbs up.

Eat your fractals

December 31st, 2010

On Monday I was acquiring sustenance at Rainbow Grocery when I came across an edible fractal in the produce section.

IMG_1642

The label described it as romanesco broccoli. I immediately whipped out my iPhone and looked it up on Wikipedia. Sure enough, Wikipedia describes romanesco broccoli as having “…a visually striking example of an approximate fractal in nature.”

Yes, a fractal you can eat!

But then it gets stranger. The following day my family was in town for a visit to Golden Gate Park. For lunch we headed to Park Chow. My order came with a side of — guess what? — romanesco broccoli! I was surprised to say the least.

As for the taste, it’s got a broccoli flavor with a denser texture, a bit like cauliflower.

Fast forward to the following morning, when I was reading BoingBoing. And guess what? They illustrated their post about vegetarian diets with nothing other than a photo of romanesco broccoli.

What would Carl Jung say about all this? I wasn’t alone in my ignorance, a dozen or so friends and family I quizzed had never heard of romanesco broccoli before. Could it be the ghost of the recently deceased Benoit Mandelbrot is contacting us from beyond the grave with edible fractals?

Yellow limes

May 18th, 2010

I was just at Bi-Rite where they have what appears to be lemons for tasting. I asked the cashier why you’d want to taste a lemon.

Turns out they aren’t lemons, they’re “SWEET LIMES.” Yes that’s right, a yellow lime.

Mind = BLOWN.