The Tomahawk Chop

Ahhhh. Meat.

Ahhhh. Meat.

Last night’s Top Chef episode showed how good storytelling can often overcome over-produced television fare. Instead of some gimmicky challenge or a manic running-around-the-kitchen montage we’re usually treated to, we got to see the remaining chefs use their skills to flat out cook. Now, I love watching the gang bang around pots and pans trying to put the finishing touches on their creations before the clock ticks down to zero, but I really enjoyed watching them during the Quickfire putting their kitchen skills to the test breaking down those sides of meat. While some of the shots seemed to imply some contestants were unceremoniously hacking and slashing their meat into submission, Spike put on a butchery clinic. Unfortunately for him winning a Quickfire at this point in the competition doesn’t win him immunity.

And what a treat watching Tom expediting dishes during the elimination challenge. We’re so used to watching him quiz the chefs on their preparations or discussing their dishes at the Judge’s Table, it was refreshing to hear him talk in restaurant speak getting those dishes from the kitchen to the tables. Again, there was no editorial flashiness in the kitchen. With the prospect of moving on as one of the final four contestants to Puerto Rico, the producers let us watch the chefs focus on working with the food, not dealing with their personalities. Yes, we kept coming back to Spike’s scallop choice, and Antonia almost incinerated poor Lisa, but, for the most part everyone seemed to keep their head down playing it safe trying to avoid elimination.

But in the end someone’s got to go, and unfortunately Spike packed his knives while Lisa packed her bags for PR. Throughout elimination you knew it was going to be one of these two, and I was hoping it would be Lisa. While Spike has occasionally surprised me with his skills and technique and certainly entertained me with his attitude, Lisa has always rubbed me the wrong way. I especially dislike the Lisa Look we always get when she’s on the chopping block-the squinty eyes along with the bulging neck. When she finally gets sent home, I hope their aren’t any sharp objects near the judges.

Even though he got sent packing (because of the meat emphasis of this episode, you could say he got the Tomahawk Chop), Spike got in one last shot reminding the judges the frozen scallops he chose were in the walk-in of this high-end restaurant. Classless as usual, but the very behavior and attitude we’ve come to expect from dear Spike.


Not To Be Outdone…

As noted below, riding one of the actual Tour de France stages is pretty hardcore, but check out what Roz Savage is doing. She’s already rowed solo across the Atlantic, why not try the Pacific?

Here she encounters some playful friends.

Midlife Hobbies

photo by Dripps
photo by Dripps

I thought picking up running and deciding to run a marathon within one year was a laudable goal. But check out what Robert Mackey of the New York Times is attempting. He’s signed on to ride a stage of this year’s Tour de France. And not just any stage. This year’s L’Etape du Tour covers, “…the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, the highest pass in the Pyrenees, [it] is the hardest part of stage 10 of this year’s Tour de France…” Click here for the article.

Go Robert!

“Cupping is just a fancy word for tasting.”

photo by Qole Pejorian

I love coffee. Without a cup of dark coffee in the morning life itself would be impossible. Or at the very least my day would get off to a rough start. And I am a fan of the full-bodied, straight up black cup unadulterated by milk, cream, foam, cinnamon, soy, or whatever else is on offer. And while I don’t look on the soy latte crowd with disdain, I think they are missing rich the flavor experience coffee provides. The practice of cupping, however, aims to change all of that.

According to Hannah Wallace’s article in the online version of today’s New York Times cupping is about to do to coffee consumption what wine tasting has done to wine appreciation. Her article introduces us to the idea of “third-wave coffee shops” which offer cuppings to increase patrons’ appreciation of coffee and help them identify the flavors they’re tasting when experiencing different blends.

Not every cupper understands all the fuss. At an Ethiopian-theme tasting by the New York Coffee Society, Michael Turkel, who keeps a restored Olympia Cremina espresso machine in his dorm, tasted a coffee and announced, “The beginning notes are sweet.”

Nearby, his friend, Lemor Sidis, rolled her eyes. “I don’t know what he’s talking about,” she said. “But don’t tell him that.”

How would you like to stand behind Michael at your local Starbucks? Prepare to have your morning drink choices become as difficult as picking out an appropriate wine with dinner.

Even if you don’t read the article, you’ve got to watch the accompanying video-it’s a gem.

Another Marathon Update

photo by kk+
photo by kk+

20 miles. Today the training schedule called for 20 miles, (alright, the training schedule called for 20 miles yesterday, but I had other things going on) and that’s what I did. The City was nice and quiet in its Memorial Day slumber, and the weather cooperated nicely with a cool, overcast morning. Overall it was a good run, and I felt pretty strong, but, like other long runs, I got to the end and wondered if I could have kept going if this were the actual marathon. I guess I’ll know the answer after a couple of more training runs of 21 and 24 miles in the next couple of weeks. But today, as good a run as I had, the idea of six more mile seemed like too much. For now, though, I’m going to bask in the glow of finishing a long 20 mile run, and once I can feel my legs again I’m going to get dinner ready.

More information: I watched some inspiring videos on the web the other day which helped me get through today’s run. First, a series of videos from Runner’s World magazine detailing their Half-Marathon Challenge. I had followed the journey of the three runners profiled, but until this weekend hadn’t gone back to the site to see the overview and race day videos. You can see them here, and, if you don’t get choked up just a little, you have a heart of stone.

Also, the PBS series, Nova, ran a Marathon Challenge episode a while back which involved taking a dozen absolutely sedentary men and women and prepping them to run the Boston Marathon in nine months. I’ll say no more; you’ll just have to see it for yourself.

Carnivale 2008

Happy dancer

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, and in San Francisco’s Mission District, and that means Carnivale. For a few hours crowds line Mission Street to watch as hundreds of dancers representing dozens of groups strut down the street in colorful native costumes and levels of dress (or undress as the case may be). The sun shone down on stilt walkers, drum lines, local politicians, and the occasional low-rider; quite a change from last year’s overcast and windy affair.

More photos are available here.

Dancing up Mission Blur of color Exuberance Feathered friends Dance troupe in blue Bolivian dancers We're with the band End of the line

There Will Be Blog

To the one or two people who may have been following my posts on a regular basis, I apologize for my silence these past couple of weeks. I’m sorry there have been no marathon updates, no new photographs, and no Top Chef reviews. (I’m sad to see my dark horse Andrew was sent home, but then again, I didn’t even have time to see the episode, so I don’t know what interpretation of a dish he subjected the judges to.)

I’ve been very busy traveling to Minnesota for my brother-in-law’s wedding, throwing a big party for my wife’s graduation from law school, entertaining my relatives, spending a little bit of time with my son who’s home from his first year in college, running, running, running, all while keeping up with my freelance gigs. Something had to give, and, in this case it was my semi-occasional blog posting.

Now, I don’t want to bore you with too many vacation and family pictures, but here are just a few shots to give you a feel of what’s I’ve been up to lately.

Post-cermony music

First up a trip to Minnesota for my brother-in-law’s wedding. The happy couple, Sean and Kirstin, were married in the Sunken Gardens of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul. As you can see the space is lovely, and the perfume from the flowers was wonderful.


Now, I can’t say I went to a wedding without including a picture of the bride. Oh, and the groom. I’ve photoshopped this image a bit, but there’s no retouching necessary to see the affection between these two.

Trish's Graduation Day

Finally, the big day for Trish. Here she is receiving her JD degree from Dean Edley at the Boalt Hall Law School graduation. That smile and confident stride represent three years of grueling, yet personally rewarding work for Trish.

So, like I said, I don’t want to bore you with too many personal photos, but, if you’re interested in seeing more, click here to be sent to my Flickr photostream.