Had a wonderful day in Napa yesterday, culminating in a picnic at V Sattui Winery in St. Helena. This morning I was inspired to bento with some of the leftovers. It’s been ages, and is forgotten how fun packing a lunch could really be.
Went to Tahoe this past weekend and had, by far, the best snow of the season. Of course, it hasn’t been much of a season this year. But it dumped from Saturday night all the way through Monday afternoon, when we headed back down the mountain.
Got home late in the evening, and it’s been go, go, go ever since. Haven’t made it to the grocery store, much less cooked up a decent meal. So this bento was all about improvisation.
Had some leftover rice from the week before, and the remains of the salad ingredients we brought up to the condo, including a vinaigrette I’d hauled there and back in a mason jar.
With the help of some vegetables and ginger out of the freezer, the fried rice got a little color and a pop of flavor. I cooked the frozen shrimp in leftover bacon fat and fresh garlic and then squeezed lemon juice over them at the end.
The cookies, I confess, are not homemade. But the oatmeal raisin cookies I made for the trip were too big for bento fare. Overall, not too shabby for the remains of the other day.
Made my third annual pilgrimage to Ano Nuevo State Park in early January. My friend Tony and I have been coming here every year since I moved to California. It’s a very apt and beautiful place to start the New Year.
Ano Nuevo Point was named by a Spanish chaplain on January 3, 1603. He spied the coast from the deck of explorer Don Sebastian Viscaino’s ship and, though he never stepped foot on the land, named it honor of the New Year. (Read more about Ano Nuevo’s history.)
The state park also includes Ano Nuevo Island. Only open to researchers, the island and its long-deserted Victorian house make for a striking addition to the coastal views. (Read more about Ano Nuevo Island Light Station.)
At this time of year, thousands of female northern elephant seals give birth and then nurse their young. The males spend their time defending their harems or plotting sneak-attacks in hopes of capturing and impregnating another’s female. (Not exactly romantic, but, since the elephant seals are thriving, this method seems to be getting the job done.)
In March, the adults return to the sea. After having spent three months on land with no food, they have lost up to a third of their body weight. The pups remain behind and have a few more weeks to hone their swimming skills before they, too, will leave the land.
Returning seals have to get past the bevy of Great White sharks that thrive in Northern California’s coastal waters. If they survive and make it into the deep blue, their yearly cycle will begin again.
Elephant seals can dive up to 5,000 feet (1,524 m) and stay down there for as long as two hours. The females tend not to hunt as deep as the males, as they’re partial to squid. The boys are, naturally, bottom-feeders and live off the likes of skate and crab.
I also re-read “Elephant Seals” by Carole and Phil Adams (1999) each year before my visit. You can purchase the book via the FES online shop, as well as in person at the Ano Nuevo State Park store.
If you want to see the Ano Nuevo colony, you must sign up for a docent/ranger-lead tour. You’ll get up close to the seals and support a good cause. Reserve far in advance, particularly for weekend slots.
Sea lions bark! They have whiskers and cute little ears! They’re playful! Need I say more? Oh, well the photography bit …
This was my first time out with my new telephoto lens (Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L). I saved money by scrimping on the Image Stabilization feature. (It was still an expensive lens!) Thought I was being crafty, as I’d read enough reviews saying it wasn’t quite necessary.
But then I bet those folks weren’t bobbing on a boat, trying to photograph fidgety sea lions, who are themselves on a bouncing buoy. As you can imagine, this makes for a lot of blur. Oh well, at least a few of my shots turned out OK!
I’ve been sailing on the San Francisco Bay quite a bit this year. It’s amazing how quiet it can be when you switch the motor off — just the sound of the wind whipping the sails above and the water slapping the boat beneath. It seems nearly impossible that you are floating just off the shore of a major metropolitan area.
Still, sometimes the prettiest sights are the ones that greet you on your return. The Berkeley Marina tends to be a surprise stunner at sunset!
I interviewed and photographed Corey Lee at his restaurant Benu for the November 2011 issue of KoreAm magazine. What a treat. Set in an alleyway in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, the restaurant, which opened in 2010, has already garnered two Michelin stars.
Here’s a look at some of the pictures that didn’t make it into the magazine. To read the full article, click here.
Heron’s Head Park sits near the southeastern edge of San Francisco. You can see downtown’s skyscrapers in the distance, but they truly feel worlds away. The 24-acre-park is home to salt marshes and a small ecological center with a living roof and sustainable water system. It used to be Pier 89, and remnants of its former life scatter the park grounds. But despite the hulking cranes, stacked box cars and strips of industrial landscape that sandwich it on either side, the Heron’s Head has the fresh smell of California’s coastland. Gulls and ducks and, of course, herons linger in the water. The winding sandy paths feel desolate and beautiful all at once.
I spent last night skulking around my sleepy neighborhood. Aside from the recycling scavengers, there were few folks on the street. Cars were even rare on busy Dolores. But the views were still perfect on what was a cloudy but clear SF night.
Two weeks ago, the Asian Art Museum introduced a new exhibit on Korean pottery. “Poetry in Clay: Korean Buncheong Ceramics from Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art” is on dislply through Jan. 8, 2012. And like many of my recent faves at the AAM, this exhibit does well in showing how the old has inspired the new.
In addition to actual pieces from the 15th and 16th centuries, “Poetry in Clay” incorporates modern works inspired by the ancient craft. There are ceramics made in the same tradition, with only more modern styling. And then there are works that bring the art to modernity in concept, as well as in medium, via photography and even soap!
I love Korean pottery for its embrace of imperfection, though that hails from another era entirely. Still, the modern interpretations of buncheong brought the art to life. I loved the juxtaposition, both playful and sincere, and hope the AAM brings us more of the same!
I am not one for too much time spent in post production. But then digital darkroom technology is awfully cool. Stitched together my very first panorama tonight. It’s of the The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at Yerba Buena Gardens in SoMa.
Here are a few from the bride and groom-to-be’s favorites. Such fun shooting good friends. Can’t wait for the wedding!
One of these days, I will tire of shooting flowers. But that day hasn’t come yet. “Too easy!” you say. And, yes, it’s true. I’m a sucker for beauty.
It’s hard to tire of the California Academy of Sciences, even with the throngs of children milling about … I particularly love the rainforest. Tropical weather makes me feel at home.
My dear friends Bryan and Ro are getting married this October. We traipsed around our beloved city to shoot their engagement photos, from the Golden Gate to the Mission.
Snapped the photo above after taking a walking tour of my neighborhood with SF City Guides. I’ve lived in Noe Valley for less than a year, but I’ve been coming to visit for almost a decade and figured it was time to learn about the truth behind its many charms.
Once again, I am part of a gentrifying sweep, moving an old working-class neighborhood with an appealing low skyline into the ranks of the less affordable. This reminds me of my old Brooklyn neighborhood, Cobble Hill; so do all the cute boutiques, eateries and baby strollers.
But … It was great to have my eyes opened to all the architectural details they would normally gloss over. And now I can proudly distinguish a Stick House from a Queen Anne or an Edwardian. One sad note is that Nelly Street was once Orient Street, but they changed the name during World War II. People are silly, aren’t they? But whoever Nelly was, I am sure she was happy to get her own street.
Tours by SF City Guides are free and happening all the time, all around the city (schedule). And you can catch the latest buzz about lovely Noe Valley on this fun local blog, noevalleysf.blogspot.com.
A fantastic piece by Nadia Drake of MercuryNews.com on the sounds of the Northern Elephant Seal:
It’s become an annual pilgrimage, the mating of the elephant seals. For the second year in a row, my dear friend Tony and I have followed a guide around the dunes of Ano Nuevo State Park and marveled at the sights and sounds of these wild, cumbersome and bizarrely shaped creatures.
I am enamored of any mammal that can plumb the depths of the sea. (Jealous might be a better word for it.) I can only go to a hundred forty or so feet, and these days I rarely go near that deep.
These Northern Elephant seals spend all but a few months of the year far out in the ocean, never sleeping, and diving hour after hour from the surface of the waves to beyond the reach of the light. Down, down, down they go, thousands of feet, to feast in the darkness below, the depths to which you or I could never go .. At once a nightmare and a dream.