Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'wichcraft san francisco

The Triumph of Design Over Cuisine

'wichcraft is Chef Tom Colicchio's foray into expanding his brand.  He is famously the chef of Craft and lately, the Head Judge of Top Chef, one of my favorite shows!  I believe the name is a play on the "wich" in sandwich and his Craft brand. Clever.

'wichcraft is a casual-dining-fast-food restaurant and I believe the philosophy is to focus on letting the ingredients "sing" without much fuss.  The San Francisco location is in the new Westfield mall (where the Bloomingdale's is).  Yet, it is not located in the food court.  By the way, the Westfield food court is populated by fast food gold standards such as Out The Door (brought to you by The Slanted Door) and Beard Papa's (japanese style cream puffs!)  To reach 'wichcraft, you'd have to go through the back of the mall, to Mission Street.  It's really almost at the loading dock.

The interior has a mid-century cafeteria look with a mezzanine for additional seating.  You order at the counter and they bring your food to your table.  It's a great space and surprisingly not crowded and very pleasant when we went there at noon.

I grabbed these cards thinking they were business cards but they are actually frequency cards.  Very cute design and logo.

The menu is very simple with a breakfast sandwich and staples available all day.  There are cold and warm sandwiches, soups and salads.  It's a bit pricey considering all the great places there are to eat  in SF, but I think it's a good variety and a great place to bring large groups of people.

5  I ordered the pulled pork sandwich. It was OK and slightly bland I found it necessary to douse it with some Tapatio hot sauce.  If the restaurant's focus is the ingredients, then I suggest they get better purveyors of meat and produce 'cause this sandwich wasn't singing.  The tomato soup was a bit better. Oh, they do throw in a bag of chips.  

5  The desserts look delicious but I was dead set on getting some cream puffs at Beard Papa's so I skipped.

Overall, this is a great model for the fast food restaurants of the future.  I expect something more special for the price and the Colicchio provenance.  Wolfgang Puck still has my buck when it comes to celebrity chef fast food.


Yesterday, September 29, 2008, the stock market fropped (yes - you read that right - FROPPED!) an unprecedented 777.68. Such pretty numbers!

This was taken in San Francisco's financial district (Montgomery Street) on my way to the airport.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Wayfarers Chapel

Going to the chapel and getting married.

I recently attended a small wedding at the Wayfarer's Chapel in Palos Verdes, California. And no, it wasn't my wedding!

The chapel is small and very romantic and set against a backdrop of trees and a view of the Pacific Ocean. It reminds me a lot of San Francisco.
The chapel was envisioned by Elizabeth Schellenberg of the Swedenborgian church as a respite for wayfarers traveling through the Palos Verdes peninsula. Can you say Schellenberg's Swedenborgian Smorgasbörd three times fast?

Lloyd Wright (son of Frank Lloyd Wright) was commissioned to design the chapel. He was inspired by the redwood trees he saw on a trip to Northern California.
5 The chapel itself is surrounded by redwood trees designed to grow around the chapel with the glass defining the sacred space within.

5  Lloyd Wright's signature linear motifs dominate the interior construction.

5 The chapel was built in 1951 and the tower 
and reflecting pool were added later in 1954.

5  Entrance to the chapel.

5 The altar.

5  A silhouette view of the altar

5  The grounds provide a perfect backdrop for wedding photos.

5 A breathtaking evening view of the ocean.

If this got you in the mood to get married, you can find out more about the Wayfarer's chapel and it's history at their website.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OPM by Sascha

Filipino songs sung by a German banker.

Sascha is a German banker who learned how to speak tagalog from Rosetta Stone.

He travels a lot to the Philippines and Thailand (he sings Thai songs as well). I think he's absolutely cute. 

This is his best effort, APO's "Panalangin";

This is my favorite APO song, "Nakapagtataka". The eyebrows need a little trimming here:

Where did this come from? Boy Sullivan! This must have been an earlier attempt because the pronunciation is still funny (ini-in-GAT-in-GATAN!) I lurv that hoodie he's wearing.

Somebody write this guy some Filipino songs! I need to hear more!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Claire De La Fuente & Richard Carpenter

Together at last.

I've first heard of a collaboration between Richard Carpenter (half of The Carpenters, brother of Karen) & Claire De La Fuente (Karen Carpenter of the Philippine Islands) about 20 years ago. Claire sounds uncannily like Karen Carpenter and shot to fame in the Philippines with a song called "Sayang" (English translation - What A Waste). It was like hearing Karen Carpenter sing in another language, not Spanish.

And finally, this year, the song was released and here is the video:

I haven't seen Claire or Richard in a while and the first thing that comes to my mind is - what was Richard wearing? What's up with Claire singing from barung-barong to nightclub and back again? The "moulin-rouge-esque" cinematography is dizzying. 

This song originally appeared in Richard's solo album and was sung by the late Dusty Springfield.  Actually, if you sing "I Just Fall In Love Again" during the chorus, it will harmonize quite well.  Mmmaybe it's the same song? Dunno. Just saying.

Claire looks very matronic and sounds like one. I think her voice lost some of the lower registers and I don't think she sounds like Karen anymore, which could be a good thing.  But still I am proud and can't wait to hear the rest of the album. It's not available on iTunes yet - natch!

Speaking of Karen Carpenter sound-alikes, here's Japan's contribution:

Pinoy Tunes

Filipino music on iTunes.

What a nice surprise to find Original Philippine Music (OPM) right on my iTunes!

Of course, there's Charice who'll probably sell a lot after her Oprah appearance:

Then there's the classics like Pilita:

Then, there's the heartthrobs:

And then there's Gretchen Barretto. Really? Greta? Her voice wasn't bad:

But, I'm definitely buying this one:
I hope it comes with some Argentine corned beef!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Buon Appetito!

Dining in San Diego's Little Italy.

San Diego's Little Italy is located on India Street, go figure.

We had a late lunch at Buon Appetito. A well reviewed restaurant with a very pleasant late afternoon ambience.


They feature local artists on the walls and you can buy the paintings. It also has a bar and outdoor seating.
5  Interior

5  Bar Area

5  We start off with some bread and marinara. 
The marinara is more mexican salsa than marinara.

5 Neil had the halibut. It was a little on the dry side.

5  I had the salmon. It was perfectly cooked and slightly underseasoned 
(all that time watching Top Chef is paying off!)  The risotto was a little chunky.

The food was generally OK but nothing outstanding. The service and the ambience was great.

Buon Appetito!


This is the late Manila socialite and TV host,
Elvira Ledesma Eduque Manahan:

She is wearing a stunning Ramon Valera original beaded gown in a leopard pattern. Here is a detail of the beading. I don't think you can get jet cabochons like these anymore:

With all that beading, it must have weighed a ton. And this gown had spaghetti straps!

The reason I brought this up is because I saw this on J.Crew today:

5  This is a stunning tortoise pattern sequinned cardigan. Even more stunning because it's listed at $3000, which I think is unusual for J. Crew. This is from the J.Crew collection.(Photo: jcrew.com)

6  They also have this Berry Astrid Jacket. Also stunning at a more affordable $248. I bet the Kaiser is kicking himself for not coming up with this earlier, but then again, he's been around so long, he probably invented this.
(Photo: jcrew.com)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Some Like It Hot

The rest stay somewhere else.

Summer at the Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego.

This hotel was built in 1888 and is famously known for posing as Miami Beach in Billy Wilder's classic film "Some Like It Hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

I've heard that when it was originally constructed, it was made entirely of wood. The hotel is built around a courtyard with a "turret" on one corner facing the beach. Aside from the beautiful construction, it's located right smack dab at the beach which is a rare feature found in American hotels of the period.

The hotel and the area has since expanded. Notice the high-rise condos in the photo above. The Hotel also built a Beach Village as their contribution to the "CONDOTEL" trend of late.

5  The Lobby. 
The Hotel Lobby is dark and small but filled with incredible wood detail.

The Famous Crown Room. 
The Crown room showcases the craftsmanship involved in building this hotel. The chandeliers were allegedly designed by L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz. This is home to the famous Hotel Del Weekend Brunch. It cost $69.50++ per person. I'm a big fan of buffets but for that price, I'm going to have to take a nap and a workout in between and finish up in about 6 hours. This photo was taken after the brunch buffet.

5  Sitting Area
Neil relaxing in one of the dramatically lit quiet corners within the hotel.

5  Cottage at the Beach Village
 The new Beach Village cottages are privately owned but rented to the public just like a hotel room. This Condotel project is recent and was designed to blend in with the original 1888 structure.

5  Beach Village Boardwalk
 The Beach Village includes a boardwalk type area with restaurants, bars and shops which buffers the property from the beach. It's a little tacky and expensive (scoop of ice cream is $4.75). But it can be a pleasant place to relax and take in the view:
And the view is SPECTACULAR!

After that wonderful afternoon in Coronado, we retired to our "real" hotel - The Hampton Inn.

Say what you will about Paris Hilton, her family runs (mostly) good hotels. This Hampton Inn is located near Sea World but the location is a little seedy with two (straight) nudie bars around the corner.

5  The Bedroom
Nice comfy bed and clean uncluttered bedroom configuration.

5  Desk and TV area.
Free internet wifi.  Wish there was a flat screen TV and a better operating HVAC.

5  The Bathroom

5  Curved Shower Curtain Rod
How cool is this?  Such a simple thing as curving the shower curtain rod can make such a difference to your bathing experience.

5  Shower Interior
The little "window" in the curtain doesn't make the shower feel so claustrophobic.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Day At The Zoo

A day at the San Diego Zoo.



And bears.....

Oh my!
(Well, it's a polar bear - at least he's awake, the grizzlies were sleeping).

And then some Philippine Deer....

Deer 1: Lintek na Abu Sayyaf yan! Pati tayo nadali!
(Damned Abu Sayyaf, they kidnap deers too!)

Deer 2: I miss kamote.

Deer 3: I missed KC Concepcion's first movie.

Best part of the zoo is the skyrail.....

It's like riding a plastic bucket. Quite pleasant and exciting!

The whole day at the zoo was a blur for me. Going on a holiday weekend is a mistake. It took 30 minutes to get parking, running into strollers and ill-behaved children, impossible lines at the Panda exhibit (never got to see it), sleepy koalas (they're nocturnal pala), exhorbitant prices ($5 for water) and the heat!

The bears had the right idea - go in the cave and take a nap!