tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:/posts A Million Times Yes! 2018-06-04T05:43:27Z tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/1290583 2018-06-04T05:43:27Z 2018-06-04T05:43:27Z Pressure Cooker Oxtail Soup [recipe]

Serves 2-3 people


  • 1.5 pounds oxtail (I did get hormone-free pieces from Gus’s)
  • 1 thumb ginger, crushed
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 onion (you could probably use half, but I thought I might as well throw the whole thing in)
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 orange peel
  • Fish sauce
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1 tbsp Hawaiian salt
  • Optional - dry sherry, which my family adds to almost everything and I like to think helps break down the bones

For garnish

  • Fresh grated ginger
  • Thinly sliced green onion
  • Shoyu
  • Salt, to taste


Par boil the oxtail for 10 minutes to remove the excess fat (if you want to skip this step you can, but you will have to skim the fat later on, which can be kind of annoying, especially for the detail-oriented). While the oxtails are boiling, you can brown the onion and  toast the cinnamon and star anise in the bottom of your Instant Pot on saute mode, if you want; it’s supposed to release the flavors a bit more, but if I am looking to cut corners (which is frequent for rushed weeknights and lazy weekends, basically meaning, yes, all the time), I will skip the step and not notice much difference.

Add the oxtails, peeled and smashed ginger, onion, cinnamon, star anise, and water to your pressure cooker. Cook for at least 60 minutes (I did 180 minutes this weekend) on high pressure. You can manually release, but I like to wait 20 minutes so that you don’t lose too much water.

Open the pressure cooker and set the cooker to saute mode and bring the broth to a boil. Add fish sauce to taste. Add one tablespoon Hawaiian salt (I like to season it very lightly while cooking and then leave salt on the table for everyone to season their own broth to taste, galbi tang style). Add cilantro, one green onion, tomato, and mustard greens. Boil until the mustard greens are tender.

Garnish with a heavy dousing of cilantro and green onions and a small dash of grated onion. Pour a small dish of soy sauce (ideally salty Japanese shoyu, like Kikkomann) to dip your oxtail. Serve with a shallow dish of salt, so everyone can add as much as they like.

Usually in Hawaii, oxtail soup is served with a bowl of white rice. However, you, can also use pho rice noodles (like they often do at Vietnamese restaurants), ramen noodles, or even wide, ribbon-like knife-cut noodles (like I did the other night).

Bon appetit.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/1069547 2018-06-04T05:33:38Z 2018-06-04T05:38:12Z Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Party Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Party-10jpg

Contrary to what you might think about this West Coast city, warm, balmy afternoons in San Francisco are rare occurrences. They're often so surprising that figuring out to do with them can sometimes be stressful instead of fun!

Thankfully, my one of good friends from high school Kathy was in town. She told me about some of the summers she used to spend in Brittany, eating soft pieces of foie on the seashore. That sounded so nice! 

So we moved quickly and brought together a group of our other Hawaii friends to assemble something of a cross between memories of a Brittany sea breeze and our Hawaii upbringing (Kathy and I have been obsessed lately with integrating our childhood traditions of food with our adult experiences of the world). A foie afternoon get together would provide an easy way for us to all catch up and talk about our “small kine kid days” without sweating over a hot dinner meal. The big plus: It was pretty much as easy as assembling cheese and crackers for everyone. :-)

Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Party-14jpg

Kathy had procured various fruits and the star—a tender log of pure foie, soft as butter. 

We served the foie gras atop small pieces of my favorite Acme bread.
Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Partyjpg

We chose two different seasonings. One, with flakes of the English Maldon sea salt (this salt will change the way you think about salt!). A second, with a balsamic reduction that Greg made by patiently warming balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan.

Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Party-17jpg

The foie was heavy and rich. We decided that we also wanted something lighter and brighter and thus the drinks and fruit. Our other Hawaii friends provided various cuts of fruit served the way we grew up eating it on the playground — with a sweet and salty seasoning called Li Hing Mui, created by taking Chinese preserved plum and grind it into a bright red powder.

Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Party-15jpg

What To Drink

Hawaii-Style Foie Gras Party-7jpg

The warm breeze required the right drink pairings. We chose three.

1. To start: Elderflower Spritz

Alcohol is always a nice way cut the fatty flavors of foie, but none of us felt like something too strong. An Elderflower Spritz would be refreshing as it is easy to make. It just took an ounce of St Germain Elderflower liqueur, topped off with cold, bubbly prosecco. I added some summer fruit to spice it up. :-) All those lychee flavors from the St. Germain reminded us of home.

2. For the non-drinkers: Elderflower Soda

Some of our friends don’t like alcohol. That’s OK! For them, we made an elderflower soda by mixing together three-quarters of an ounce of elderflower syrup (no alcohol!) and some Perrier.

3. For the Foie: White Port

My aunty Paula taught me to drink cold, white port on frosty winter days when I lived with her as a recent college grad in Palo Alto. It has a way of rolling on your tongue slow and sweet. It seemed a worthy companion to creamy foie gras. And as it turned out, Kathy had also spent summers drinking white port in France. So it was a done deal. We made Greg bring over a nice cold bottle.

Foie Afternoon

The Star

Foie Gras

Fresh loaf of rustic bread

The Sides

Slices of tropical fruit

Li hing mui powder

To Drink

St Germain Elderflower Liqueur


tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/1044442 2016-04-30T18:14:15Z 2018-02-22T11:34:35Z Mom's Chinese Poached Chicken Recipe: Bak jum gai

I don't know why for sure, but I am obsessed with cooking whole chickens. Maybe it's because I grew up eating whole chickens with my family at dinner—roasted, poached, steeped in shoyu Hawaiian style. Or maybe it's because I love the idea of eating something whole. Or maybe it's because it's so fun to share a big bird with friends around the table. Then again, maybe it's because it's such an economical way to buy a chicken! One is enough to feed a small gathering.

I guess it doesn't matter why. I just love it. And so when Friday rolled around and my friend came over for dinner, we decided to crack open a cold bottle of white and make this tasty, but subtle, version of Chinese chicken, using my mom's recipe. 


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 3 stalks of green onions


Put salt, ginger and green onion stalks into a pot of water and bring to a boil. Lower whole, cleaned chicken into the water and bring to a boil again. Once boiling, lift the chicken up to pour out any water stuck in the cavity. Bring to boil again. 

Once it boils, bring the temperature down to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 40-60 minutes—depending on the size of the chicken—or until you can poke the chicken with a fork and the juices run clear. 

Place chicken in ice bath to retract the jucies. Then serve. 

Eat with green onion and salt or mustard/shoyu or chili garlic.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/683714 2014-04-29T07:34:04Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z Finding Inspiration in the Every Day Moments

A video that reminds us of the creative inspiration found in the every day—and also of the glories of shooting on a Red Epic and Phantom Miro. :-)
tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/659922 2014-03-03T06:01:11Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z Turbulence.
I was mid-way through a flight to Chicago when, without warning, we hit some bad turbulence.

Airplane flights, to my mind, shouldn’t feel so akin to boat rides, undulating violently up and down as if riding on unrelenting waves.

I gripped the sides of my seat with wet palms, murmuring the Lord’s Prayer under my breath, as I’ve become accustomed to doing, at the rate of a hyper rosary. I watched the flight attendants (always my litmus test of whether I should panic) walk anxiously up and down the aisle and run to their strap ins. I compared the trip to flights I’ve taken in China and Russia (another one of my turbulence habits)—during which we’d barrel straight up and down on take offs and landings, using the tarmac as seeming bouncy castles. This was, I decided, definitely worse.

The cabin freaked. The woman next to me started laughing feverishly, clutching her silent boyfriend’s hand. A baby cried with colic conviction. A lady screamed. The man sitting two rows behind me, an apparent engineer, continued his highly technical conversation about circuits and factories and currents, using an exaggerated, loud voice in a German accent. “AND THEN YOU ATTACH THE CIRCUITS TO THE TURBINES, SENDING THE CURRENT IN SUCH AND SUCH A WAY AND IT’S REALLY QUITE EFFECTIVE.”

In a little bit, the pilot came on, chuckling.

“This is the Captain speaking. Well, folks, as you can see, we’ve hit some turbulence. Air traffic control had warned that there would be a bit of turbulence and well, [laughs], as you can see, this is more than a little bit. Just hang on, I know it’s bumpy, but we’ll be fine.”

Sometimes it’s those voices that keep you sane. It's the one that says, “Oh, hi. This is terrible, a lot worse than we expected. This is awful and bumpy and hold on—because it’s going to be just fine.”

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/634099 2013-12-24T04:54:39Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z Sushi Santa Treats!

Just in time to leave out for the jolly man and his reindeer! Isn't this so cute?

Sushi Maker is going to post a YouTube video on Christmas Day about how to make this adorable Santa sushi. :-)

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/634091 2013-12-24T04:07:05Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z My Favorite Things: Pixie Nespresso Machine + Pumpkin Latte

Every year I wait for it to come on the menu: Pumpkin spiced lattes.

It’s not like I even drink that many of them. But I think it’s a gentle reminder that the holidays are here and it’s time to get into the spirit.
But last year when the time rolled around, I realized I wanted to do it myself. What could be more relaxing than making it in my own home?
So I decided to buy a few bottles of Amoretti flavored syrup off of Amazon and make it myself, using one of my most favorite kitchen appliances, my Pixie Nepresso machine.
(I actually recently returned from a trip to the South of France, and these espresso machines were everywhere! It was nice to see that I was not biased into liking the coffee because it’s just so easy to make, and that the French actually love the machine and beans as well!)
The above video was the delicious result! I made it over a year ago now. In true holiday fashion, the video is in the style of Charlie Brown. Enjoy. :-) 
tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/597920 2013-08-29T21:32:53Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z Exploring Zins, Family Wineries, and Wine Dogs in California's Dry Creek Valley

They call them microclimates around here, which is exactly like it sounds. Go a few miles to the north or south in the Bay Area and it’s the difference between a foggy film noir and A Roman Holiday. It’s especially muted right now for those of us in San Francisco. During these summer months, the fog rolls in like cat fur. While everyone else is out having BBQs, we’re pulling on light sweaters and boiling tea.

But there’s an easy remedy for that. Josh and I have taken to driving north to wine country on those dreary summer days to catch some of the sunlight and warm breeze. The famed Napa has been an easy favorite. But a little while ago, we tried a new getaway: Dry Creek Valley.

Sure, Napa Valley is a landmark destination with famous, brand name wineries and tours. That will always be there. But at Dry Creek Valley, a 9000-acre stretch of wine country, we found a cluster of smaller batch, family-run winemakers, which created a very different experience.

(You can watch our short video tour of the valley above!)

Dry Creek Valley is actually one of the oldest wine regions in California, dating back to the days following the Gold Rush of 1849. Those who had taken part in the frenzy found themselves settling in the fertile valley near the Russian River and planting vineyards of Zinfandel, now the region’s most famous wine. During Prohibition, most wine production stopped. But the region made a comeback in the 1970s. Today, Dry Creek Valley is home to over 70 wineries, most of which are still family owned and operated.

The Winegrowers of DCV invited us to visit the region along with a handful of other writers, and we all climbed into a little bus that took us through the city, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and into glorious, glorious wine country! The thing that I love about wine is that wine grapes are like sponges. A little southwestern breeze of vanilla will alter the flavor, as will a winter that’s too harsh or a summer that’s too scorching. Because of that, wine country—Dry Creek Valley included—is always perfectly pleasant. The air smells sweet and the weather is always temperate.


We first went to Fritz Winery, where they led us through an aromatics seminar. A little sniff of strawberries, chocolate, anise, and blueberries to see how it matched up with the wine (a refreshing mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon).


Fritz Winery Aromatics Seminar

The wine caves of Fritz.

Fritz Winery

After Fritz, we climbed back into the bus and headed to Mauritson Winery, where we were to participate in soil tasting. As it turns out, for all of the comfortable weather, the grapes don’t necessarily have it easy. For grapes to produce good wine, they must undergo some hardship. They must be pruned to produce good branches and good fruit. And they must live in rocky soil. The rocky soil stresses the plant and causes it to produce chemicals that thicken the skin. For some varieties, skin like that produces better tasting wine. Such rocky soil is one of the pluses of Dry Creek Valley.

Luckily, there was no actually eating dirt in this seminar! It was all about how the quality of soil—rocky or moist or peaty—affects the product.

Mauritson Winery Soil Seminar

Then we went to Quivira, which was an organic vineyard. "Organic" is actually a pretty difficult certification to to receive and requires unconventional methods to make the wine. Our guide slung some cold wines into a cute little sack (see below) and took us through the vineyards, walking through the grass and among the branches. Funnily, the destination was the compost pile, which turns out to be a very innovative aspect of organic grape growing.


So, the whole media trip, the organizers joked about some kind of wine blending "smackdown." I thought they were kidding. As someone with test anxiety, how could I ever come to drink wine under such pressure? Well, to my horror, it turned out to be very true.

We headed over to Dutcher Crossing where we were sat down at white-clothed tables and given glasses, vials, pipettes, and single-grape wines. I looked around. Everyone else was confidently mixing. Josh was talking smack to the other mostly meek-looking writers, making fun of everyone for having it in the bag. The others looked smug. Naturally, I panicked. Taste, panic, mix, panic. Taste, panic, mix, panic. I was the very last person to finish, to the point that the organizers needed to usher me out because I was holding everyone up.

I was sure that I lost. I was so embarrassed to even have anyone taste it.

But in the end, I placed third! Josh didn't even place (that's what ya get for smack talking!).


The finale was a stunning dinner at the personal home of Debra Mathy, the proprietor of Dutcher Crossing. It was May, and we were entering the crest of summer. The evening was bright and warm, and the air smelled sweet from the nearby grapes. We enjoyed plates of cold beets, grilled chicken, and rare slices of beef along with a beautiful array of Viognier, petite verdot, cabernet sauvignon, zinfindel, and sauvignon blanc from Thumbprint, Collier Falls, Amphora, and Dutcher Crossing.




Lastly, we got to meet a bit of a celebrity! Last January, I bought a Wine Dogs calendar for $5 from Silver Oak. I love that thing. And lo and behold, I got to meet one of my favorite dogs from the calendar! Dutchess! She is every bit as beautiful and sweet as she looked in the calendar and more. What an adorable yellow lab. If you go to Dutcher Crossing, you might get to meet her, too.

IMG_0155 IMG_0158

Fritz Underground Winery
24691 Dutcher Creek Rd Cloverdale, CA 95425

Mauritson Winery
2859 Dry Creek Rd Healdsburg, CA 95448

Quivira Vineyards & Winery
4900 W Dry Creek Rd Healdsburg, CA 95448

Dutcher Crossing
8533 Dry Creek Rd Geyserville, CA 95448

Cross-posted at The Joy of Drinking.
tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177033 2013-01-08T08:48:00Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z Food for Thought: True Productivity

...The less energy people expend on performance, the more they expend on appearances to compensate. More often than not, the energy they expend on seeming impressive makes their actual performance worse...

The effort that goes into looking productive is not merely wasted, but actually makes organizations less productive. Suits, for example, do not help people to think better. I bet most executives at big companies do their best thinking when they wake up on Sunday morning and go downstairs in their bathrobe to make a cup of coffee. That's when you have ideas. Just imagine what a company would be like if people could think that well at work.

- Paul Graham in Founders at Work

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177036 2012-11-04T17:01:00Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z How to be more prolific on social media

Given that the last topic I blogged about was the summer solstice and it is now autumn in most places around the country (except for San Francisco, which is in its annual bout of Indian Summer), you can tell it’s been a while since I last blogged. 

Which is not good for a blogger, right? That’s like the number one rule of blogging, you say: Update and update regularly. Who is going to read anything you write if you actually don’t write anything? 

Gah, OK, OK, I hear you. So now I have some thoughts about being prolific on personal social media.

For many of us, the struggle with updating our digital presences—i.e. Feeding The Monster—is practical: We are just busy. Away from our screens and keyboards, we have active lives full of work and people and houses to clean and pets to feed and if we have a spare hour outside of work, we would much rather be seeing the friend we haven’t seen in umpteen months or laying down. 

Recently I’ve realized that one of the keys to making sure we have time to update has to do with our lifestyles. I have a couple of ideas about what we can do in our lives to improve our prolificacy. 

It actually has to do with commute. Commutes, in general, are terrible for our happiness. Researchers found that people consistently cite it as the worst part of their lives. So, if commute majorly affects our lives in general, imagine how it impacts our productivity. 

So, for optimal social media, there are two good scenarios:

1. Find a job that’s close to work or where we can work from home. I used to have a job where I would have to drive 1.5 hours everyday to get to work—and then another 1.5 hours back. That was three hours a day. And aside from the fact of having no time for blogging or doing anything else—I was miserable from the commute. These days, I used to live a five-minute walk away from my work, but recently the office moved more than an hour’s drive away. Now I lose two to three hours every day—that’s fifteen hours a week or more than two full days of work (assuming an average of eight hours of work a day). Which basically means that if I weren’t commuting, I could essentially be blogging as a part-time job for two days a week. 

I contrast this to when I used to work from home—in particular, when I was running social media for a startup in DC. It meant I started really early because they were five hours ahead of where I was living. But it also meant that I put in way more hours because I didn’t have a commute. And I also had time to integrate updating my social media into my life. 

2. The even better way to make time for Feeding The Monster is to plan a commute during which you can work. After roughing such long driving commutes for some time, I told myself I would live by public transportation and company shuttle stops or bust. And you know what? It was awesome. I’d walk 20 minutes to the train and get my exercise for the day and then take a 40-minute train ride down to my job. It was the similar time spent as my more awful commutes. The difference was that I could work on the way down. On my way back up, I would take the company shuttle and do the same. 

I considered my day started when I sat down in my train seat, not when I got to my desk—which meant that my day started much earlier and I had the time and mental space to work on creative problems and also to blog, tweet, and find things that inspired me to post to my social channels. 

The third way, which I do not advocate, is to find a job that you hate because then you will find yourself forced to find inspiration and creativity in your outside life, which for some people means social media. Of course, then you have a much bigger problem on your hands. ;-)

What do you guys think? How do you guys make sure you post often?

- Noelle

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177046 2012-06-21T00:46:00Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! Enjoy the sunshine!

San Francisco, 5:46 pm

“Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it!" -The Great Gatsby

I think of that Great Gatsby quote every summer, as I await the Summer Solstice's arrival. There is something about savoring the sunniest day of the year, making sure that I am appreciating every moment of it before we slip into fall and then winter. In life, we don't always get to know when things are at their best or at their worst until the moment is past. In the Summer Soltice, we get that rare chance to know in the moment that this day is as long as it gets for the year. It's a gift.

Unusually, summer is here in San Francisco. I say unusually because these June and July months are typically filled with frigid fog. While the rest of the Bay Area is laying out in tank tops and slippers, San Francisco folks know it's time for jackets and socks. Someone once again attempts to quote Mark Twain ("The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" - not Mark Twain), and we wait it out until our warm days come in August, September, and October—Indian Summer, as they call it. 

But today we received a warm blessing on the Summer Soltice—a high of 74 degrees and broad, generous sunshine, hot enough for a tank top, skirt, and slippers. 

It is a day not to miss. :-)

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177052 2012-06-21T00:29:00Z 2018-02-22T11:34:34Z 22 Rules for Storytelling from Pixar

From corporations to advertising firms to digital shops to startups, many marketers are realizing that changing hearts, minds, and actions is not merely about pushing people, shouting, or scaring folks to move. Great marketing is about good storytelling, an immersive experience that compels us in our fundamental humanity.

But what does it look like when you take some tips from working at one of the best contemporary storytellers, world class animation studio Pixar?

Earlier this month, Emma Coats, a storyboard artist at Pixar, generously tweeted out 22 great tips on "story basics." Now someone out there on the Internets has put them into a really cool graphic (Pro tip: Everything is more sharable as a jpg!). Unfortunately, the citation on the graphic is illegible, so I’m not sure who made it. (Pro tip 2: Always cite yourself as the source in the graphic!)

If you think these are just tips for creating great movies and books, I encourage you to widen your view. These are awesome insights to integrate into the discovery process for any campaign creation, content strategy, or digital planning.


tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177113 2012-03-27T23:45:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:55Z The Future of Long Distance Relationships and the New YC App Pair

Today I read about a new app showcased at YCombinator's Demo Day called Pair—the beginning of a tool designed for those in long-distance relationships. 

To be totally upfront, I haven't tried this app at all. I am not in a long distance relationship. But as someone who has been in long distance relationships over what amounts to years, I am really surprised that a similar app has not been developed yet. 

After all, when you and your loved one are apart, money feels like no obstacle. In your most lonely moments, you would pay a lot of money to be closer. And often times, you'll factor into your cost of living expensive plane tickets so that you can see one another. I know I'm not the only one. I can recall countless conversations in which people have come to me or my friends asking for advice and for tools on maintaining a healthy relationship from afar.

I say this because there's money in it for the person who uses app technologies to bring us all closer together. People would pay for apps or services and spend a lot of time on these tools. I am very eager to see Pair—and whoever else jumps into that space—perfect that tool. Pair has already had 50,000 downloads in the last four days, according to All Things D. And I would really not be surprised if this is just the beginning. 

This should be a space to watch.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177162 2012-03-27T08:13:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:55Z Winter Cocktails at AQ Restaurant and Bar

It really can't be said that San Francisco doesn't have seasons.

Sure, the city's east cost counterparts boast the full blusters of winter and dramatic fall displays of color and leaves. And even Midwest cities, like Chicago and Minneapolis, may claim seasons intense enough to freeze your tears and melt your skin and all of the earned bragging rights in leathered character.

But thin-skinned and soft-hearted San Franciscans may be, it cannot be said that the City on the Bay does not have seasons. You really only have to look to what San Francisco devotes so much of its pomp and circumstance: the food. In city that puts events like farmers markets at centerstage, eating with the seasons is an important part of San Francisco living. Home cooks and professional chefs kow-tow to fresh catches and seasonal harvests.

AQ Restaurant is the perfect example of this. The restaurant, which just opened in November to a flurry of accolades (including a nomination for the James Beard Award's best new restaurant), changes every aspect of its service with the seasons. The interior transforms from the warm colors of fall to stark winter white. The staff rotates its garb from flannels to pressed whites. And, of course, the food and drinks shift to reflect the particular season's bounty.


If the concept sounds quaint, it is. But it avoids becoming gimmicky simply because, well, the cocktails are good.

What's cool is that many of AQ's cocktails give a strong nod to the classics. In fact, a whole section of the drink menu is devoted to "seasonal classics," common drinks that are tweaked here and there to make it the restaurant's own.

AQ also features some of its own drinks, too. They're not cocktails you'll necessarily find in the gentlemen's companion—but they were definitely delicious enough to make up a modern cocktail book!


We went to AQ during its winter menu. I was particularly pleased with my Manhattan, which featured orange-peel-infused bourbon, sweet vermouth, winter bitters, and angostura bitters. It was a really lovely spicy take on the old classic. It managed to taste enough like the original but took on its own distinct mood—kind of like visiting the same place at different times of day.


Next I ordered a New Amsterdam Variant #2: raisin-infused bols genever gin, maple syrup, old fashioned bitters, topped with apple cider. It was a sweet drink that ran thick with the maple syrup. The taste of raisins and cider tasted familiar and made me feel warm on a cold winter's night. Completely appropriate drink for fall (apple season!), as well.

The drink somehow become reminiscent of raisins and of hot cider. It was the perfect spice to warm my insides on a cold winter's night.


Josh asked the bartender for a recommendation on a scotch drink, and she whipped up a super tasty Bobby Burns—a deep and smoky drink that usually includes scotch, vermouth, and Bendictine.

Our companion Kasey, on the other hand, ordered a Bison Rose, and it came in this really cool cup! (Standby for low-quality pictures in a dark, dark bar.)


Overall, we were most impressed by the drinks featured on the menu (opposed to ones whipped up off-menu), and the bar takes a really fresh take on well-loved cocktails. Drinks were really well-balanced and very accessible for food-minded folks looking for deep flavors in their cocktails. These are California cocktails at their best!

[For the interested, here are dark, dramatic photos of the AQ winter cocktail menu, which has since been swapped out for the spring menu.]



AQ Restaurant & Bar

1085 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103 415) 341-9000

Crossposted on The Joy of Drinking.
tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177178 2012-03-10T19:48:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:55Z Some days for this

This is the "Ostrich." For days you want a quality powernap. Or just want to hide.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177245 2012-03-06T16:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:56Z Seconds

I have this theory that you know a place is really good when you go twice—once, to try it out, and then second, to fulfill the craving the first visit left. This past weekend was a weekend of seconds. :-)

We returned to Plant Cafe on the Embarcadero with my visitng friend (and, incidentally, second cousin!) Crystal. It's a super healthy cafe on the Bay that specializes in organic foods. It's the perfect place to take any guest to San Francisco—they get a full Bay view and can satisfy their stereotype of healthy Californians. 

We all thought we'd try their fresh juices. You only need a little glass because it's so potent!

They also have a delicious breakfast bowl with cinammon, apples, young coconut, and pecans. 

We also returned to 15 Romolo. I had promised myself that I wouldn't get the skillet this time, even though it was so delicious last time. But this time they had pork belly in the skillet! What's a girl to do?

Pork belly skillet

We also stopped for a drink at old favorite Heaven's Dog, where Trevor whipped up a lovely Trinidad Sour.

Trinidad Sour - Heavens Dog

Cheers to the seconds!

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177272 2012-03-06T06:09:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:57Z How to be vulnerable on social media

Photo: Exploding Dog

Vulnerability is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. It’s kind of an inevitable subject to ponder when you’re working in social media. Sure, there are a lot of corporate standards surfacing for transparency and social media (you can just look to the work of Charlene Li as one example). But the personal question is only one you can answer yourself—will people trust me if I share my personal struggles? Will it make me look lame? Weak? Self-pitying? Or worst: emo? And when you don't fit into the old boy's club in a corporate environment, it can sometimes feel that all of the world’s distrust will weigh your youth against your eagerness and smarts and come out judging you for just your babyface.

There are a lot of arguments for being vulnerable on social media, i.e. The Public. It makes it easier for people to relate to you, people say. It shows you’re a real person. It shows that you’re authentic.

But the truth is that a lot of people love gossip, too. And there is a reason why the human train wrecks that are reality TV shows do so dependably well on the networks. People love drama. And not always out of compassion. The spectacle can become self indulgent. You can make money off of it. You can gain fame. But you can also lose yourself and crash and burn.

So it’s our job to, yes, be authentic and to relate to others. But it doesn’t need to be meaningless or a target for internet rubberneckers.

And then I started to observe that there is a way to be very successful at being vulnerable on social media. And I think one of the people who embraces all these principles best is Penelope Trunk. 

Penelope Trunk is widely recognized for her popular blog about “the intersection of work and life.” She shares with graphic, almost embarrassing honesty about her struggle with Asperger syndrome, the trials and tribulations of her sex life and love life (if you’d like to distinguish the two), and the challenges of launching a startup. As a blogger, she is able to share facts and insights about herself that make many people squirm—but ultimately she still wins the trust of a large readership.

How can we embrace the same kind of vulnerability? I learned a few from reading Penelope Trunk's blog:

  1. Tell a good personal story. When Penelope discusses her vulnerabilities, it’s more than a laundry list of insecurities, trips, and falls. She tells a personal story from her real life—and she does so with excruciating honesty. It’s an effective way to make her blog interesting instead of just emo. This is where the bulk of where she exposes herself and her vulnerability. The story is immersive and allows you to care about the author.
  2. Give concrete tips on how to beat that vulnerability. This is the biggest principle I observed. Penelope might spend 1,000 words talking about how she feels terribly inadequate at something. But then she focuses the rest of the post on actionable ways she’s dealt with those feelings. Sometimes this part even comes below the fold. It’s still effective, though—the stories that she starts have a lot of traction.
  3. Take a strong stance. Penelope’s advice is often extreme. She’ll frequently defy the conventional wisdom and stir up controversy. This not only makes her blog posts a good conversation starter. It makes her decisive and demonstrates her analytical skills. While most people focus on the actual conclusions, what builds credibility is the thinking process. In this way, we shouldn’t stress out as much about being right or wrong—we all change our minds in life. But we should focus on the quality of thinking and the efficacy of our writing to really say something.
  4. Build credit. Following this formula actually builds her credibility with her readers. So, when she does occasionally share stories without advice to follow, she’s already established herself as a smart, thoughtful person who can share hardships without wallowing.

How much do you like to share about yourself online? Do you have certain safeguards?

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177317 2012-03-03T16:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:57Z A MEH cupcake exists!

For some reason this cupcake, from NYC Taught Me, just cracks me up. A meh cupcake is like a sad clown!

Happy weekend!

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177343 2012-03-03T02:53:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:57Z Mint Plaza & Blue Bottle Coffee

“The one across from Square” is what my friend Ben called the Blue Bottle Coffee location, referring to the tech startup across the street. You know you’re in Silicon Valley when coffee shops are referenced according to the nearest hot startup. 

If you were really to get technical about it, the little space is called Mint Plaza—a little yuppie inlet, set off from the busy Mission Street. That part of Mission Street is actually where things get a little dodgy—crack addicts in wheel chairs and kids playing craps and other rough types who scatter out from the shelter on 6th street. People say it’s an area prime to be gentrified with Square and Twitter (both productions by entrepreneur and CEO Jack Dorsey) setting up shop and ever more fancy condos filling the lots. But for now the homeless and bored still congregate around the bus stops and benches. 

But once you turn right onto Mint Street and walk a block down to Mint Plaza proper, the yuppies and startup types appear. Young guys on iPhones and ladies with laptops, women in yoga pants and people helping their dogs to the puppy biscuits on the store counter. A BMW flies past every now and then looking for parking. 

Inside the coffee shop, the brightly lit space is fitted with long, beautiful wood bars. Fit for the cool geeks that the shop attracts, this Blue Bottle location is stocked with “our prettiest and most delicate gear,” says the coffee shop itself. This means fancy Japanese apparatus made of glass—high tech all in the name of good coffee.

The five-light siphon bar is said to be the first of its kind in the U.S.

It produces the coffee at just the right temperature in exactly the right time. 

They also have a selection of simple sandwiches for lunch—like this ham, cheese, and butter ‘wich made from ACME bread. 

Blue Bottle Coffee
Mint Plaza
66 Mint Street, San Francisco
M-F 7-7, Saturday 8-6, Sunday 8-4.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177367 2012-03-02T16:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:58Z Book lover technology: The automatic bookmark

This is one of the neatest things I've seen in a long time. This little red bookmark will follow you as you read, so that you never have to remember your page anymore. Smart, sleek, stylish. Support the "kickstarter" project at IndieGoGo. $10 gets you a pack of six.

Via Swiss Miss.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177380 2012-03-02T06:05:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:58Z Stockton Street & an amazing night at Parallel 37

The 500- to 600-block of Stockton St. is the perfect portrait of San Francisco.

As you come to the 500 block, you are met by the Stockton tunnel, the urban marker that divides the busy financial and shopping district from the bustling Chinatown on the other side.

If you choose to climb the narrow flight of stairs at the end of the tunnel, you will find yourself among great, beautiful brick buildings with Victorian facades—tall, majestic San Francisco houses with big windows that sit in the sunshine among big, leafy trees.
But those who choose to go through the Stockton tunnel—the fastest and flattest way to Chinatown on the other side—they will find the path cold and dank. Matted city pigeons stare menacingly at you from the railings that line the road, and no matter how sunny it is outside the tunnel, there are always suspicious pools of water on the path that require careful stepping. Every now and then, you might even come upon an odor of mysterious origin. Mostly, you will encounter droves of busy Chinese grandmas on their way to and from the markets and only the occasional bearded hooligan.

It’s a story of stark contrast. Of majestic wealth and hilly peaks. And a dank underground that the city sometimes tries to sweep away or, at least, sequester. That’s much of San Francisco.

I came to the mouth of the tunnel yesterday, while on my way to a dinner. Not knowing whether the destination was on the other side of the tunnel or above it on the incline beyond the stairs, I weighed my options. I considered for a moment that my dinner was in the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. And the choice was clear.

Upstairs, of course.

What awaited inside the Ritz-Carlton was Parallel 37, the product of a recent transformation from the more stuffy Dining Room into a fresh, modern concept for the elite San Francisco hotel. My friend Reid was in town, and he was good enough to invite his other friends and me to enjoy the culinary imaginings of Chris, another Hawaii person who has previously graced kitchens of the ranks of Per Se and Aziza.

Needless to say, I was excited. I had been looking forward to this gathering for weeks. Accompanied by a great group of people (who were all super knowledgable in the world of food, no less!), we had set ourselves up for all the makings of a completely enjoyable night.

And it did not disappoint!

I confess that I am not well-versed in the technical aspects of cooking, nor am I particularly well-traveled in the halls of fine dining. But I can really feel it when I enjoy it. If it makes you feel happy, if it makes your heart sing, if the food tells you a story, if the flavors show you something new or remind you of something dear, if it’s a moment you will remember for a very long time—you know that it’s good food.

This was the third time I was lucky enough to sit at one of Chris’s tables—and Chris makes good food. And even to type that feels like an understatement. There were so many aspects of the meal that made the food delicious (though Lord knows I don’t understand all the complex ways it got there!), but my favorite part of the meal was that it showed so much heart. Every dish looked so meticulously beautiful, and amazingly, as fellow diner Amy remarked, every element of it contributed a necessary flavor. “Nothing is superfluous,” was how Amy put it. Everything was a part. Each piece was deliberate. Like singers in perfect harmony, each part of the dish worked together.

So without further ado, here are the pictures! (I confess to not recalling every ingredient, perhaps delirious from impatient excitement, and none of it was written down. But I hope the photos tell the full story!)

We started with a amuse bouche, featuring a yummy green tea gelee. Super refreshing, really clean.

Followed by savory churros—crunchy all the way through and dusted with spices. For shame, Disneyland.

We moved onto this seaweed bread—a bit crunch on the crust and soft and crumbly on the inside, like cornbread. I swear, I could eat this stuff every day.

Next was this kanpachi. Sweet, tender slivers.

Beautiful tobiko and apple over a savory mash. (I think on this dish I asked whether it was acceptable to lick my plate.)

Abalone! Tasty and tender and gone too fast.

Perfectly slow-cooked egg. The textures in this dish are amazing. Anyone who loves rice would appreciate the satisfying mix of egg yolk and grains.

And yes, right before the San Francisco ban—it's foie gras. The gel was particularly exceptional. Bright and a little bit tart, it coupled with the rich foie. Yum yum yum.

Cod belly. One of the surprising stars of this dish was those delicate slivers of cucumbers, which were so fragrant and flavorful that it tasted like honey dew melon.

The tender cut of pork was delicious, as expected—but what really took me was these BBQed beets. The absolute best part was the beet tips, which were sweet, rich, and chewy—like dessert french fries. I was so taken with them that I let out a yelp when I ate them.

Oh, this duck was cooked just how I love it—red on the inside, which made it rich and gamey.

Last was this very pretty platter of desserts. Lucky us!

What amazing food and a memory to cherish. My hat goes off to the chef: Mahalo, Chris—you, sir, are a rock star.

Parallel 37

600 Stockton St.

San Francisco, CA 94108

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177467 2012-02-28T16:00:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:59Z Tea Tins

Confession: I am kind of a tea geek.

I started drinking tea in college because the Hong Kong tea shop down the street was the only cafe not inundated with chatty students pretending to study for their sociology exams. So Josh and I made it a "Saturday thing" to go down to Dream About Tea. No crowds. No loud students. No Internet, even! The space was completely free to find our own ways to waste time without being bothered by others. ;-) So is college.

Since then, I've amassed quite a number of teas over the year. And the problem becomes storage. I have dozens of little wax paper bags and tiny tupperware holding my many leaves.

But the thing is that tea actually does have a shelf life. And it has to be stored a certain way, away from too much heat and light and air and moisture.

That's why I love these Japanese tea tins from Teavana. They're cute blue and just the perfect size. The 5-oz tins have a special removable seal that keep the elements away. As if they were, well, made for it.

Teavana, $12.95.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177489 2012-02-27T20:37:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:59Z Relaxing Booze and Brunch at 15 Romolo

Brunch is kind of a “thing” in San Francisco. Like hipsters and burritos and bicycles, people here just love to love brunch. Long lines and long waits in tiny spaces are common—and admittedly, the food is often delicious enough to go through the pain.

But sometimes you don’t want all that trouble. You actually want to wake up easily, take a slow city stroll, and then sit down to feed your weary tummy, no doubt worn out with the rest of your body from the work week.

15 Romolo was somewhat of a dream in this regard.

The bar is best known as a saloon-style cocktail watering hole that prides itself on cocktails made from fresh ingredients in an unpretentious environment (which you might find a bit of a surprise, based on the many seedy strip clubs that light up the street outside).

But in the weekend morning light, which slides into the warm afternoon, 15 Romolo transforms into a low-key, relaxing brunch spot with fantastic food and expert drinks.

Most bars would be courageous to expose their sticky insides in the light of day. But even in the clarity of morning, 15 Romolo holds up beautifully. Sunshine falls generously through the bar’s wall of open windows to reveal clean tables and clean chairs in a slow and easy environment.

When you first walk in, you're greeted by this majestic punch bowl. Fancy, fancy!

The saloon ambiance is so relaxing.

Brunch at 15 Romolo

I loved the table asthetic.

I ordered a glass of punch. One of the gentlemen working there informed us that the punch was especially good that morning. It's a strong potion that included Highland Park Whiskey 12, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, vanilla, cardammon, pin rum, lemon, grapefruit, and yellow chartreuse.

They topped mine with a gorgeous slice of blood red orange.

Josh got a Pimm's Cup—which is a very light and refreshing version of the drink. In its more classic form, the drink can be a bit heavier and bitter. The lighter twist made it perfect for brunch. 

Everyone who comes gets a free waffle shot to start their meal. The waffle stick is fresh and hot, and the liqueur tastes like maple syrup. 

Josh got the tofu scramble, which is completely vegan. And completely delicious. The scramble was packed with buttery spices.

I ordered Romolo's Home Skillet. Braised beef. Sweet potato hash. Cabbage/raddichio slaw. Blood orange vin. Chipotle aioli. Perfectly poached egg. Oh, oh, oh! So delicious. 

The poached egg even had this lovely sprinkling of sea salt.

We enjoyed the food so much, that we were tempted into ordering these pillow-light biscuits with honey/shallot butter.

15 Romolo
15 Romolo Place  San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-1359

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177528 2012-02-27T17:26:56Z 2013-10-08T15:59:00Z Starting the work week with some old Hawaiian tunes

Feels warm on a cold San Francisco morning. Lap steel guitars, take me away!

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177556 2012-02-26T02:20:07Z 2013-10-08T15:59:00Z Saturday Cupcake

It's funny how the banal can lead to the delightful.

We took Josh's Macbook over to the Apple Store and learned there was a 45-minute wait to get help. So we decided to take a snack break.

We bought this delicious tiramisu cupcake at a little stand called Cako. Super moist and not too sweet. With a little strong coffee—perfect.

Hope you stumble across something as lovely this Saturday.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177649 2012-02-25T21:07:00Z 2013-10-08T15:59:01Z More Details on Charles Phan's and Erik Adkin's New Project

Learning about Charles Phan's and Erik Adkin's new Embarcadero restaurant had the curious effect of making Josh and me very excited and very thirsty. And so we found ourselves, only moments later, dashing down to The Slanted Door, one of Mr. Phan's and Mr. Adkin's tried, true, and institutionalized restaurants in the Ferry Building. After all, we wanted to end the three-day weekend on a celebratory note.

And as it happened, Mr. Adkins was there that night behind the bar! He shared with us a little more about the new spot, which is set to open just a little ways down from The Slanted Door at Pier 3.

The new restaurant will take on a New Orleans flare in fare and in cocktails. The drinks, specifically, will draw inspiration from the the book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em, an artifact from the '30s and one of the few pieces documenting drinks from that place. For Erik, that means being able to do a lot of what he enjoys—stirred drinks and the like.

It's a very neat direction to go. New Orleans drinks are celebrated for some very significant contributions to the cocktail menu—the Sazerac and the Ramos Gin Fizz, just to name a few. But I don't know of very many bars that have chosen to thematically embrace New Orleans. And with the growing number of New York-style, Charles Baker, tiki, and tequila spots, it seems that Phan and Adkins might carve out a very unique spot.

The new place won't be solely about the cocktails and actually the cocktail menu won't be "seasonal," as I had previously thought. Instead, we are encouraged by with what we know about Mr. Phan's other spots—both great food and great drink. There's not much not to complain about that.

And so we wait with more anticipation! 2012 will, indeed, be a very good year.

Crossposted on The Joy of Drinking.
tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177029 2012-02-21T02:27:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:54Z New Cocktail Bar for Charles Phan and Erik Adkins (Sound the trumpets!)

Holy moly! San Francisco cocktail world, rejoice! We're about to witness a supernova.

Earlier I had mentioned that the super fantastic Erik Adkins was stepping back from managing the cocktail menu at Heaven's Dog to usher in the super talented Trevor, formerly of Rickhouse. And now I'm wondering whether it has anything to do with this happy piece of news: Charles Phan (famous proprietor of Slanted Door, Wu Hing General Store, Out the Door, and Heaven's Dog) is opening a new spot on Pier 3 on The Embarcadero—and the restaurant and its food are all centered around Erik's drinks, as Eater SF reports!

Details are few, but the restaurant is set to feature Creole food to compliment a "creative seasonal cocktail program" created by Erik, describes Eater SF. 

I could not be more excited.

One of the distinguishing marks of San Francisco cocktail culture is that much of it is invested in food establishments. Restaurants, it seems, have an easier time acquiring liquor licenses or taking over places that already have them, and so you have a frequent interplay between food and cocktails. But I am incredibly excited to see what happens when cocktails take centerstage, and the food follows—and led by one of the most awesome bartenders.

It's going to be a great year for cocktails.

Crossposted on The Joy of Drinking.

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177030 2012-02-21T01:13:41Z 2013-10-08T15:58:54Z New circulation strategy?

Skinny. Extra bold. Hold the sweetness. On my newspaper, that is.]]>
tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177032 2012-02-20T03:02:00Z 2013-10-08T15:58:54Z Cold Nights, Hot Tofu Soup

Banchan at Tofu House

For a foggy, Friday San Francisco evening, hot soon dubu chigae was the perfect method of warding off a cold. 

After playing frisbee in the parks of Oakland (several questionable aspects about this activity), Josh suffered from the congestion of both allergies and a cold. Gah. So we dashed our original hipster plans of eating cheese in the Mission and instead headed over to our favorite Korean hole in the wall: My Tofu House.

Soon dubu chigae is a Korean tofu soup, hot both for its scaldingly hot temperatures and spiciness, which makes the broth ember-red from pepper paste. The steam, the pepper, the rich broth—all of it—is the perfect salve for a cold. 

We like My Tofu House because the interior makes you feel like you’re home. Warm lights, soft seats, and kind staff make it easy to relax.

Tofu House

Plus, the banchan, or side dishes, are delicious and plentiful. Each person even get their own smelt, and when they’re not busy, you get refills on the banchan.

Banchan at Tofu House

I always get the combination soup because I like the savory mix of beef plus clam.

Combination Soon Dubu - Tofu House

And Josh likes to get the noodle one—the ramen soaks up all the flavor. It’s one of a few other vegetarian options on the menu, including vegetable and mushroom. (They always use water and not meat broth.)

A satisfying start to the weekend.

My Tofu House

4627 Geary Blvd
(between 10th Ave & 11th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94118
Neighborhood: Inner Richmond

(415) 750-1818

tag:amilliontimesyes.com,2013:Post/177035 2012-02-19T18:50:24Z 2013-10-08T15:58:54Z Morning puer

Earth tones to start the day — that and a small caffeine kick. :-)

From Red Blossom Tea Company.