May 2011

Poetry Break

You, Andrew Marvell

BY ARCHIBALD MACLEISH

And here face down beneath the sun
And here upon earth’s noonward height
To feel the always coming on
The always rising of the night:
To feel creep up the curving east
The earthy chill of dusk and slow
Upon those under lands the vast
And ever climbing shadow grow
And strange at Ecbatan the trees
Take leaf by leaf the evening strange
The flooding dark about their knees
The mountains over Persia change
And now at Kermanshah the gate
Dark empty and the withered grass
And through the twilight now the late
Few travelers in the westward pass
And Baghdad darken and the bridge
Across the silent river gone
And through Arabia the edge
Of evening widen and steal on
And deepen on Palmyra’s street
The wheel rut in the ruined stone
And Lebanon fade out and Crete
High through the clouds and overblown
And over Sicily the air
Still flashing with the landward gulls
And loom and slowly disappear
The sails above the shadowy hulls
And Spain go under and the shore
Of Africa the gilded sand
And evening vanish and no more
The low pale light across that land
Nor now the long light on the sea:
And here face downward in the sun
To feel how swift how secretly
The shadow of the night comes on …

MacLeish wrote this in the aftermath of World War II, so he was a bit premature.  Fewer would call him premature now.

jesusAnd i should have posted this pic back at Easter to demonstrate to the world that San Francisco, contrary to all that propaganda from the right, has not entirely abandoned Christianity:

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Mission Chinese Food Update

Time i updated the file on Mission Chinese Food.

The chef, Danny Bowein, keeps gathering acclaim.  Before he got involved with Anthony Myint and ended up starting Mission Chinese Food, he worked at Farina and won the Pesto World Championship in Genoa.  Last fall he was named one of San Francisco’s up-and-coming young chefs, and last month Mission Chinese Food made theChronicle’s Bay Area Top 100 list, a great honor when you consider that he’s competing with folks like Thomas Keller.  Here’s an interview with Danny in SF Foodie, back when he was doing Mission Burger.

He keeps updating the menu, and the Eggplant and the Pork Dumpling that i raved about are no more.  They’ve been replaced with dishes that recognize his roots.  No no, not Korean.  Oklahoman.  We’re talking back-country barbecue, falling off the bone and served according to tradition on rafts of white bubble bread sodden with delicious drippings.  Not on the menu but served most days.

officersI hadn’t mentioned in my earlier comments, but the art on the walls is not your usual subjects but rather things like an 8 x 10 foot achingly staged equestrian portrait of a group of very high ranking Chinese military officers in full dress uniform.  It redefines surreal:

For my latest visit, i took three of the most delightful women i know, my good friends Gloria, Sybil, and Carol (in order of acquaintance).  They suggested that i select the food, and since being a food fascist comes readily to me, i quickly acquiesced and ordered as appetizers the Beijing Vinegar Peanuts and the Fresh Tofu.  For entrees, the Lion’s Head Meatball, Thrice Cooked Bacon, and Sizzling Cumin Lamb.

We feasted at leisure, Sybil and i getting the additional enjoyment of watching the astonishment of newcomers Gloria and Carol as they experienced food better than they’d dreamed possible.

You owe it to yourself to eat here.  It’s crowded at night and they don’t take reservations, but so far you can be seated without a wait at lunch, especially if you get there a bit before noon.  The sign outside says “Lung Shan”.  Here are the details.

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Art Theft

OK, folks, i took this pic of some street art on Market at Gough, and i just know that figure has been stolen out of a painting by some Great Master that i’m supposed to be able to remember.  What i do seem to remember is that he wasn’t coming out of a window (or a picture frame)  in the original and that it had to do with religion.

greatA free jar of jam or something to whoever can identify the source.  Write me.

Oh, and i don’t know whether thinking about that art triggered it, but for the second time in San Francisco, Matte went to church this morning.

No no, don’t worry.  Just the Unitarians.

And it didn’t take.

 

Late note:  In March, 2016 i blundered across this painting online.  I was wrong about his not coming out of a frame in the original, which is Pere Borrell del Caso’s most famous work, Escaping Criticism (1874).

 

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More Strawberries

At the Castro Farmers’ Market on Wednesday i was offered a deal i couldn’t refuse – a free flat of yesterday’s strawberries, a bit the worse for wear but still OK for jam, he said.  So of course i said yes, got them home and started to work washing and sorting them and tossing those that had gone off.

I completed the first batch of jam that night, flavoring it with several teaspoons of some Thai red curry paste that had long been occupying precious shelf space in my refrigerator, and while that was cooking down i got the berries for the next batch stemmed.

Thursday morning i awoke early and got the second batch of jam going, this one flavored with some New Mexico chile powder.  Prepped the final batch while that one was cooking, and  finished jarring the final batch (this one without exotic additions) just before noon.  Whew.

Took a break from this by going to the gym, where i encountered a new side effect from the jam making.  See, i go to 24 Hour Fitness, a place so modern and cutting edge that instead of flashing an id card upon entry, you just stick your index finger onto this little reader, whereupon the screen displays “Welcome, Matte”.  Except that this time it didn’t, displaying instead, “See Receptionist”.

Of course i could see her, she was standing right there, and she told me to try it again.  So i did, and she observed that my fingerprint was so faint that it was barely visible, so the machine couldn’t read it.

And then it swept me.  I hadn’t worked my fingers to the bone like our mothers used to, but in snatching three batches worth of hot jars out of the oven, i had seared my fingertips smooth.

So enjoy yer damn jam.  It didn’t hurt that much:-)

easterHere’s some street art celebrating Easter at the corner of Haight and Laguna:

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Strawberries

Sorry about the long pause in posting, but there is good news.  Thanks to Olga at the Hand Therapy Clinic i have recovered pretty much full use of my smashed hand/arm, and the turmoil level in my life has been downgraded to Beige, so here i am again.

The word of the day is Strawberries.  They are just gorgeous this year and i’ve made a couple of batches of jam with them.  For the first batch i used the Red Red Strawberry Jam recipe out of Joy of Cooking, but was less than pleased with the outcome.  I started complaining to Olga about the flaws, and her face lit up with delight because i brought back Russian childhood memories of her “helping” her babushka (бабушка) make this jam.  When i mentioned that the whole strawberries in it floated to the top two-thirds of the jar, she exclaimed she loved that about it.  And when she went on to talk about the delicious froth at the top that she would sneak fingerfuls of and that i had been thinking of as some kind of scum, i wisely shut up and handed her a jar.

So guess who’s going to get the lion’s share of that stuff.

Me, i was much more pleased with my first batch of regular strawberry jam that i made with a shredded apple, the juice of a lemon, and half (literally) the sugar of the Joy recipe, especially since i got it to set well.

But the real joy in strawberries this spring started a couple of weeks ago when Poli Yerena handed me a basket of little green strawberries and told me they were the hot new thing in condiments at the trendiest restaurants, a challenge i could not pass up.

So i tried cooking some in a simple syrup and was not impressed, but the rest i mixed with equal parts of chopped Pasilla chile, red onion, and cilantro for a really tasty salsa when moistened with one of my berry vinegars.   Still thinking about how i might jar that and still preserve the fresh taste.

Then he gave me another basket and i tried pickling them by putting them in 8 oz jars, tossing in a spoonful of mustard seeds, and pouring over them a boiling mixture of 2 cups cider vinegar, 3 cups water, and 3 T. salt.  Clap the lids on quickly and they seal.

Popped open a jar for a test this morning, and it wasn’t bad.  Maybe a little too salty, and the berries had softened noticeably, losing their crunch.  Still, encouraging.  So i picked up a couple of baskets and will experiment with replacing a bit of the salt with sugar, adding a tiny little Thai pepper, and to keep them crunchy adding a pinch of alum and pouring in the pickling fluid merely hot rather than boiling.

strawberriesStay tuned.

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