The Gentlemen Who Dine

I moved to San Francisco at the tail-end of a migration of like-minded individuals who wanted to get sucked into the giant vortex of online creativity taking place here at the turn of the millenium. It was the year Y2K and we came from all over the place to try to find affordable housing, a job that would last more than a year, and gather new friends and acquaintences around us since a lot of us came here alone with not much more than the clothes on our backs and dreams of success and dubious fame.
One obvious benefit of living in San Francisco is the ample opportunity one had to enjoy a good meal now and again. In addition to being surrounded by some of the most productive and lush farmland, the city also tends to draw to it those people for whom food is not just nourishment, but religion. It’s sometimes hard to decide where one is going to eat for dinner, our choices are so varied and many of the restaurants are world famous not only for their food and service, but also for their prices.
So it was that two comrades and I decided over a meal at Eos in Cole Valley to form The Gentlemen Who Dine.

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April 25, 2007  1 Comment

Food for People

There is nothing quite as agreeable to any diner as discovering you’re now “a regular” at a particular restaurant. The staff recognizes you at the door, they know what you’re usual order is (though they are still kind enough to provide a menu) and sometimes, if you’re gregarious and friendly and remember everybody’s name, you get preferential treatment, like early seating or complimentary drinks.
Other times all you get is a smile and a “Hey, guys!” and you’re happy enough for that. So it is for Robert and I when we visit Valencia Street stalwart Puerto Alegre during our almost-weekly sojourn into the Mission for a weekend burrito brunch. We’re now appearing there with a regularity that suggests addiction, but it’s not really the burritos we hunger for.
Rather, it’s not just the burritos.

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April 25, 2007  2 Comments

The Sitting Alone and Laughing Thing

I am just returned from a late morning breakfast at a local crepery — and what is it with all the creperies in San Francisco anyway? Who said we were all starving for crepes? — where I was sitting at a table for two with Robert and along comes a guy who asks us if the empty table next to us is available. “For what?” I am thinking, and also, “Why are you asking us? Does it look like we’re going to spill over on to the next table with the quantity of foodstuffs we are about to partake of?” because I sometimes suddenly start speaking in an odd, overly formal manner inside my head, but anyway Robert responds that it is free (but neglects to tell him that we moved from that table because it was coated in a veneer of syrup or something else sticky that we’d rather not know what the hell it is) so the guy sits himself down with paper in hand and we are eating our Chorizo Scrambles when the dude starts to chuckle.
Now, I understand chuckling and all. Sometimes, something tickles you so much you’re forced to laugh in spite of yourself. The David Sedaris story about learning French and the Christmas bell that flies around has caused me on at least two occasions to laugh out loud in public spaces. But this fellow continually chuckles all the time. I’m trying to ignore him, frankly, but it’s difficult to do so when you start to wonder if he’s doing it on purpose.

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April 21, 2007  Leave a comment

Foam and Circumstance

Perhaps, or probably, unfairly, I think of Citizen Cake as the place where lesbians go to eat. I’m sure there are many other restaurants and eating establishments in the fine city of San Francisco owned, managed, womaned and visited by lesbians, but Elizabeth Falkner, Citizen Cake’s seemingly unavoidable owner, pastry queen and chef-in-residence has managed, in my mind, to usurp any other San Francisco lesbian pastry chef to become the epitome of lesbian restaurateur.
Not that any of that has anything at all to do with the food and experience that this Hayes Valley mainstay has to offer, but it does explain a little bit why I never feel quite comfortable there and why I have a hard time settling in to a meal — whether it’s dinner or a sit down at the bar with a perfect cup of coffee and a lovely little cake — without thinking that I shouldn’t have a penis.
Case in point: shortly after my boyfriend and I had completed our meals (Me: Tagliatelle with trumpet mushrooms and garlic. He: Niman Ranch grilled steak with something called horseradish gellée which was, in a word, horrid) the table next to us was gifted with three different amuse bouche to sample among the two of them. They were two women. We were two men. You do the math.

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April 16, 2007  Leave a comment

Tax and Spend

Today is April 16th, or Tax Day as it is sometimes known in the United States. Normally, we pay our taxes on April 15th, but since that was yesterday and nobody in the Federal Government works on the day of the Lord, they delayed it for our benefit.
When I was employed full-time by a company, they automatically removed my federal income tax from every paycheck so the government wouldn’t have to wait for me to give it to them. Now that I am self-employed, I have to write a check to them for the full amount of the taxes I owe on the income I made while a citizen of the United States to pay for all those grand and glorious federal services from which I derive so many benefits, like highways and airports and the military. When the taxes were taken out a little at a time and all I had left to pay (or have returned to me) was a teeny tiny portion of the overall burden, I had a little resentment over that check I had to write. It wasn’t the fact of the money itself, because I believe that we should pay for certain expenses as a society or else chaos will rule because no one would want to pay for it themselves. Can you imagine a world where every street, every lane, every alley, every freeway and every highway included a toll? Would anyone repair them if they had to pay for that? How much would getting anything shipped cost, then? So we pay our part in that economy of size so everyone benefits.
No, what irks me is how the money is being proportioned, and the fact that I, as a taxpayer, have little or no say in its proportioning.
Now that I have to sit down and write out that 5-figure check all at one time and I am given the opportunity to look at the amount of money I’m paying the Bush administration to continue to fuck me over and try to deny me some basic rights because I happen to be gay (or did they stop supporting a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and no one told me?) while running the debt sky-high in payment for a war they started on false premises and continue to run badly, resulting in the entire world now looking at the U.S. not as a savior and model of democracy but rather as something to fear and reject, it makes me somewhat, well, pissed off.

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April 16, 2007  5 Comments

Kids say the darndest things

It’s funny — not “ha ha” funny — how a lovely dining experience can be marred by the simplest thing, and sometimes it’s not even the restaurant’s fault, at least not directly. I know I’m being a something-ist when I say this, but I just can’t help my feelings in this regard: children under a certain age should not be brought into a formal dining restautrant, even when it’s not a formal dining evening.
Case in point, my recent visit to Le Colonial with friends Robert and Brian. Brian was in visiting from the peninsula where he works, commuting up from, believe it or not, Palm Springs where he shares a house and a pool with his significant other. Robert is my main squeeze and between the three of us, or four counting Brian’s absent BF, the total number of children being reared is zero. We were looking forward to a polite, chatty dinner with the boys last week, but the table next to us consisted of a father and his two beautiful, darling, intelligent, unruly brats who were uncontrolled and having a birthday or some such nonsense. I half expected Le Colonial Clown to come in with a giant frozen ice cream cake and funny hats for everyone.
I don’t hate children, per se. I just don’t want them around when I’m trying to carry on a conversation about pornography.

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April 13, 2007  1 Comment

The Tyrannical Pixel Monsters

I suck at time management. My friend Merlin has built an online empire based on getting organized and Getting Things Done, and here I sit in my home office trying to juggle the various projects I find myself committed to, in addition to trying (I really do try) to get some new stuff going here and on my other various online endeavors, including a return to audio — authentic Grimm’s Fairy Tales, anyone? — more video stuff, putting some updated Design-O-Rama pages together and actually writing an actual book that, godammit, I’ll probably just self-publish so I can say I did it.
Unfortunately, I also own an Xbox 360 and a Wii, and now my boyfriend has done me the rather dubious favor of sitting his PS3 in my overheated electronic living room so I have access to not one, not two, but all three next-gen gaming consoles.
And I don’t even like video games!

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March 30, 2007  4 Comments

The Big Drip

The first time I walked into Ritual Roasters on Valencia Street here in San Francisco, it felt like I’d stepped back into some pre-bubble-burst time hole. Everywhere I looked was another Seattle-grunge fashion victim hugging a monochrome MacBook, their faces aglow with dreams of buy-outs as they looked up to see if the person just walking in had any VC money sticking out their pockets.
I felt dirty. I felt like an outsider. But regardless of the clientele, the coffee is decidedly delicious. (For the record, my Top Three Coffees are, in order, Blue Bottle in Hayes Valley, Ritual, and Philz in the Castro.) Now it seems I have another reason to visit Ritual — their 2 new $11,000 Clovers.
For those of you who don’t keep up with expensive coffee makers (what, are you insane?!?), the clover supposedly makes one perfect cup of coffee. Not an espresso, not a demitasse, not a latte or an Americano or anything sounding even slightly Eurotrash in its aspirations. Grounds go in the top, magic happens inside, coffee comes out the nozzle one cup at a time, brewed by a sort of high pressure French press method.
Currently there are 80 Clovers worldwide and we have 2 of them. I’ll see you there! Forget the computer — for once.

March 14, 2007  Comments Off on The Big Drip

The Cheese Problem

I’m sort of stupid and cheap when it comes to throwing out bad food. Case in point: The Cowgirl Creamery triple cream Red Hawk I purchased on my way home from a client and then thoughtlessly left in my shoulder bag as it… ripened. Let me just say one thing about stinky cheese, or rather, about forgotten stinky cheese.
No, maybe I won’t say anything. I’ll just let you ponder that thought for the day.

March 12, 2007  2 Comments

Oscars = Boring

I think I am becoming less gay because I could hardly bring myself to watch the Academy Awards last night. It doesn’t help that I have been hopelessly out of touch with the movies this (last) year and still haven’t seen “The Queen” or “Children of Men” or anyone’s labyrinth. As it is, I totally forgot they were even on until I watched Sunday Morning on CBS and they told me they’d be on ABC that night, which is kind of them but also stupid. If I were CBS, I’d totally ignore the Oscars like everyone else.
What I did see (I came in right about when Foreign Language films were being presented and totally missed Jack Black and Co. doing something musical) was dullsville to the extreme. Ellen was wrong to host it, they need to resurrect Bob Hope, whose jokes were stale but his tux was always immaculate. Everybody talks about Billy Crystal being the ultimate host, but that’s only because his opening montage kicks ass. Otherwise, meh. Ellen’s whole schtick about it being one big friendly family and vacuuming around Meryl Streep’s feet fell flat, not because it was unbelievable but because we never want to see a vacuum cleaner anywhere around these people! We want them always in $12,000 gowns and ill-fitting “rad” tuxedos without ties and horribly, horribly bald.
Jack. What was that? You look stupid. Grow it back. K-Fed isn’t trying to drug test your locks.

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February 26, 2007  2 Comments

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