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Posts tagged as “The Guerilla Foodie”

[twenty twenty-four day ninety-two]: that which was foretold has come to pass

centaur 0

Tabbouleh has indeed been made from the tomatoes. I have always been self-conscious about what I cook - I rarely do traditional recipes on the nose, for example using heirloom tomatoes and cinnamon, cumin, allspice and nutmeg in addition to salt and pepper - but I do work at them. I'm using Aunt Nagla's parsley cutting technique and chef Nicola's lemon-soaked bulgur wheat technique and my wife's green onion recommendations to leave in the leafy greens and the traditional lighter olive oil that my parents used. And I spice to taste before finishing - the last bite of which literally made me stagger, it was so good, to me at least.

But whether people actually like it is an open question. This time, for Easter, on the potluck planning thread, someone asked for it specifically, someone else gave me the thumbs up when I said yes, several people complimented me while we were eating - and the family ate almost the whole bowl.

So they didn't NOT like it, impostor syndrome be damned.

-the Centaur

[twenty twenty-four day ninety-one]: someday, son, this will all be tabbouleh

taidoka 0
We need tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes.

Actually, it will become tabbouleh, vegan kibbey nayye, tomato sandwiches, crazy susan salad, and maybe burger garnishment.

But the principle stands: I am creating some buffer, as I had before GDC, in case Easter goes kazoo. So, please enjoy this variety of tomatoes (heirloom NC, heirloom Mexico, on-the-vine stripped of the vine, and conventional slicers).

-the Centaur

Pictured: um, I said it.

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-four]: coatastrophe

centaur 0

SO! I have no topical image for you, nor a real blogpost either, because I had a "coatastrophe" today. Suffice it to say that I'll be packing the coat I was wearing for a thorough dry cleaning (or two) when I get home, and I will be wearing the new coat my wife and I found on a Macy's clearance rack. But that replacement coat adventure chewed up the time we had this afternoon, turning what was supposed to be a two hour amble into a compressed forty-five minute power walk to make our reservation at Green's restaurant for dinner.

Well worth it, for this great vegetarian restaurant now has many vegan items; but it's late and I'm tired, and I still have to post my drawing for the day before I collapse.

Blogging every dayyszzzzz....

-the Centaur

Pictured: Green's lovely dining room, from two angles.

[twenty twenty-four day seventy-eight]: now that’s a bloody steak

centaur 0

On the other end of the health food spectrum, we present this lovely tomahawk steak, from Chophouse 47 in Greenville. They don't even normally serve this - it was a special - but it came out extremely well (well as in excellent, not well as in well done; I had it medium rare, as it should be). And it was delicious.

Even though I can't eat them very often, I love tomahawks, as they're visually stunning and generally have the best cooked meat of any steak cut that I know.

Also, you can defend yourself from muggers with the bone.

-the Centaur

Pictured: um, I said it already, a tomahawk steak from Chophouse 47.

[twenty twenty-four day forty-four]: i can’t drive fifty-five

centaur 0

I and a politically opposite friend got together today to NOT solve the world's problems, and after a long and charged discussion we came to the conclusion ...

... that the 55+ menu at IHOP is good.

I think we can come together as a nation on this one.

Seriously, just turned 55 recently, and my buddy offered to take me out to breakfast at IHOP and order off the "senior" menu because, well ... sigh. It's time, literally, it's time. And it was pretty good!

So we've got that going for us, which is nice.

"What's that, sonny? First time trying it? I can't hear you over my advancing decrepitude ... "

-the Centaur @ 55(ish, give or take a few days)

[twenty twenty-four day thirty-two]: if you do what you’ve always done

centaur 0
Something new

"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten," or so the saying goes.

That isn't always true - ask my wife what it's like for a paint company to silently change the formula on a product right when she's in the middle of a complicated faux finish that depended on the old formulas chemical properties - but there's a lot of wisdom to it.

It's also true that it's work to decide. When a buddy of mine and I finished 24 Hour Comic Day one year and were heading to breakfast, he said, "I don't want to go anyplace new or try anything new, because I have no brains left. I want to go to a Dennys and order something that I know will be good, so I don't have to think about it."

But as we age, we increasingly rely on past decisions - so-called crystallized intelligence, an increasingly vast but increasingly rigid collection of wisdom. If we don't want to get frozen, we need to continue exercising the muscle of trying things that are new.

At one of my favorite restaurants, I round-robin through the same set of menu items. But this time, I ildy flipped the menu over to the back page I never visit and saw a burrito plate whose fillings were simmered in beer. I mean, what! And the server claimed it was one of the best things on the menu, a fact I can confirm.

It can be scary to step outside our circle. But if you do what you've always done, you'll miss out on opportunities to find your new favorite.

-the Centaur

And it’s gone …

centaur 0

Had a great day with a buddy from grad school who drove up so we could bike the Swamp Rabbit Trail. During that, I had a great idea for a blogpost, which has completely evaporated on the bike back.

So, please enjoy this picture of a pizza instead!

Bon appetit.

-the Centaur

[ninety-one] minus one-four-two: we have opinions on tomatoes

centaur 0

So my wife is back from her business trip, and we and our housekeeper made a lunch of tomato sandwiches out of the remaining tomatoes that from my last grocery trip prior to Sandi's return.

My wife is actually hesitant to buy tomatoes, as she's gotten a lot of poor ones, and I realized that my youth growing up as a child of a produce wholesaler - from an ethnic community that has heavily tomato-flavored dishes - may have left me with some definite opinions about tomatoes.

We all discovered we had firm opinions about tomatoes: that heirloom tomatoes are generally more flavorful, less meaty and dense, and generally better for sandwiches because they're often wider and less juicy than their beefsteak companions.

Regardless, tomatoes may be on their way out this season, but they're still good now.

Get them while the getting is good.

-the Centaur

Pictured: End-of-season tomato sandwich, and a hummus-lettuce-tomato salad.

[eighty-eight] minus one-oh-six: in my quest for the perfect tomato sandwich, i have inadvertently recreated the BLT

centaur 0

OK, full disclosure: this is more like "the perfect sandwich using tomatoes, if you know you're going to be eating out for a few days and want to empty out your refrigerator so don't buy anything too fancy" than the actual perfect tomato sandwich. I go through phases where I eat in most of the time and where I eat out most of the time, and near the end I try to make sure that I use up everything that I have.

Tomato sandwiches are perfect for this: I almost always have bread or or buns or croissants at the house, but will often be left with a few extra tomatoes and some lettuce if I have previously made tabbouleh. But, by themselves, tomato sandwiches can be a little boring. So I started looking up recipes, and found one which involved sautéing a bunch of herbs as a garnish - but which I can simulate pretty effectively with a bit of veganaise, dill, salt, pepper, and onion powder.

Leftover tomato can be turned into a mini-salad (upper right, above) with a little salt and pepper and any remaining veggies or lettuce you have. Personally, I like toasting the thick "Nature's Own Perfectly Crafted Multigrain" bread better than the hamburger buns you see above, as you can spread the lettuce and tomatoes out to create a wider sandwich that's easy to eat. It also seems to go better with a nice peaty Scotch like Ardbeg than it does with a margarita, but on all of that, your mileage may vary.

Regardless, I was again cleaning out the freezer of frozen stuff, mostly breakfast items, and found some vegan bacon, which I thought, "hey, that will add savory, I am a genius"! Only when I was done with it did I realize I had simply re-invented the good old bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich that my finicky tastebuds had steered me away from as a youth. Well, they're not steering me away from it now.

Oh, the recipe. Makes two sandwiches:

  • 4 slices Nature's Own Perfectly Crafted Thick-Sliced Multigrain, or bread of your choice
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, or tomato of your choice
  • 4 leaves of Bibb or Butter lettuce, or lettuce of your choice
  • Veganaise, or spread of your choice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dill Weed
  • Onion Powder
  • Optionally, 4 slices of vegan bacon, or, just bacon

Wash and clean the lettuce leaves. Slice the tomato to create four thick slices from the middle. Chop up the ends, salt and pepper them, and add to a small bowl as a mini salad with any other veggies you have, such as leftover lettuce. Toast the bottom slices of bread and spread on the veganaise, then season the veganaise with salt, pepper, dill weed and onion powder. Layer on the tomatoes, two slices per bread, and salt and pepper them as well. Then add the lettuce. (Note: if using wide bread, line the tomato slices up, then add the lettuce, but if using hamburger buns, you can stack tomato-lettuce-tomato-lettuce). Optionally add tomatoes and close off the sandwich. Serve with your beverage of choice.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a lot of tomato sandwiches.

nine [spring rolls]

centaur 0

A brainflash by my wife, turned into an out-of-nowhere concoction. Breakfast-burrito sized spring rolls, filled with almost entirely raw veggies, backed up by an amazing mix-and-match sauce, all entirely vegan.

We're going to have to add this to The Rotation.

-the Centaur

On Wine

centaur 0

I'm sorry, but that is NOT alcohol.

THIS is alcohol.

There, I fixed it for U. You're welcome.

-the Centaur

Pictured: (1): Wine leftover from the Edgemas party; it was not impressive. (B, or 2): Neil Peart's favorite drink, Macallan, bought special for the party; it was quite impressive. (iii, or C, or 3): the La Parilla Margarita, medium, on the rocks, extra salt on the rim; about the best drink you can get - locally in the Upstate, that is, not counting driving to Reposado in Palo Alto to get their Cadillac Margarita, again, extra salt on the rim.

five [cuts]

centaur 0

... makes six pieces. Mathiness says that the maximum number of pieces you can end up with from this is sixteen, which is apparently one plus the 5th triangle number, but on reflection I don't think sixteen pieces would make a good quesadilla. I think you're better off ordering the nachos instead.

-the Centaur

Customer Service

centaur 0


SO, my primary job is working for this big software conglomerate and I want to make sure that I’m doing a good job so a frequent thing that I do is work later on some evenings “just a little bit harder than I want to” but I’ve found that if you do that too long you can burn out and so — GASP --- you need a way to stop yourself from doing too much.

My preferred technique, in recent years, is the OpenTable reservation. Later in the day, when I have SOME idea of when I might leave, I log in to OpenTable, set a reservation for one of my favorite restaurants, or a new restaurant, just late enough in the evening to still hit a coffeehouse and get some writing done. I know a few places which are open to 11, so if I can eat by 7:45, I can still get a couple hours of writing in. At worst, even at 8:30, I can get an hour of focus at a coffeehouse — assuming, of course, since I use that dinnertime to do my print reading, an hour for dinner.

Assuming an hour.

So tonight, I tried a new restaurant, Bird Dog in Palo Alto, and showed up 15 minutes early for my 8pm reservation (since I’d not been there before, and wanted a little buffer, and I’d finished my work anyway). They weren’t ready for me, so I sat in the bar, had a daiquiri, and read a chapter out of Peter Higgins’ NUMBERS: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION while listening to a very entertaining conversation between some very, very uppercrust ladies who just might have been minor celebrities. At a little after 8:10, the maître d’ came by to tell me a table would be ready soon. I finished the chapter, then pulled out THE EMOTION THESAURUS and started reading it.

At 8:30, I suddenly realized I’d been there three quarters of an hour and had not yet even been seated.

Shoot. Well, that happens. I packed my books up and asked the bartender for the check. He offered to comp me the drink, but I declined (since I was already running way late and thought I could probably get a quick slice at Pizza My Heart to get back on schedule). The waiter asked me to hang on a bit so he could check in at the host stand, and in moments, the maître d’ had arrived to show me to my table.

They comped my drink. They brought me roasted avocado and flatbread, pictured above. And all of the staff came by and apologized. But neither the comping, nor the apologies, were really needed, or were the deciding factor: when a problem was detected, they fixed it. Now, basically they gave me free appetizers and drinks, but I still had an expensive meal, and I’m likely to come back at least once, or to recommend it, or perhaps even blog about it --- how meta — so they’ll make their money back.

But what strikes me is that property of noticing a problem and expending a small amount of personal and financial capital to right it had far greater payoffs. They didn’t ignore the problem, or just toss stuff at me to paper it over; they fixed it, they acted sincere, and they delivered the rest of their normal service at high quality. I tried to be super nice in response, and I hope we all had a great meal. Their efforts to provide great customer service changed my attitude about the problem, and built a bond.


Later at Coupa Cafe, one of my favorite coffeehouses, I struck up a conversation with one of the staff, and they recommended a new drink I could try. When I got it, the spectacular presentation of my personally recommended drink again reminded how great customer service doesn’t just have immediate benefits for the business; it creates relationships and attachments which are a perennial source of not just profit to the business --- which it does — but of connection in human lives.

And that’s what really makes it all worthwhile. That, and time to work on your books.

-the Centaur