mardi 6 septembre 2005

Hangin' with the homies.

So I'm back, safe and sound. Oakland was fun! The last time I was up in the Bay Area was two years ago, and boy, did that trip not get off to an auspicious start. I went up with fuckhead for July 4th, and someone decided to buy us early 8am morning flights. Someone also forgot to get his allergy shots earlier in the week, and thus had to go BEFORE the flight, because someone did not trust that I would know how to administer an allergy shot (like, how hard can it be? Just jab it in the arm!). Then someone packed himself a bagel BUT NOT ONE FOR ME and there was no food I wanted in the Burbank airport, and then someone got an ear infection en route so I had to call my mother to prescribe him antibiotics, which we had to pick up and I did not get to eat until 2pm (after having had to wake up at 5am) and I WAS MOST UNHAPPY.

Moral of the story: I need to be fed on a regular schedule. He learned that lesson really quickly after that trip.

The rest of that trip was fine, although that was the last time I let anyone choose restaurants without consulting me. And this trip - well, there was lots of food. LOTS. I think the easiest thing to do will be to take you through one day at a time because I love my digital camera and I took, oh, upwards of 200 photos. What did I do without a digital camera? We'll start with Friday.

See, Tweedle is smart. She knows that the most important thing to do in the world is eat. Eat often, and eat well. So when I landed at 9am - which, mind you, is generally before I normally wake up - we went off to a local diner near her old condo where we got red flannel hash. It was super-duper good. I was too tired to take pictures of it, given that I'd only gotten 2.5 hours of sleep the night before.

Then we puttered around until lunch. You see, everything revolves around food.

We met Nick at Bay Wolf for lunch. It's very much a ladies-who-lunch sort of place - interesting that Nick chose it then. He was very well-behaved - no propositioning me to go on vacay with him even though he has a girlfriend, etcetc. And the food was amazing.

These are two of the three dishes we got - cornmeal crepes stuffed with goat cheese, corn, and pasilla peppers with spicy green rice (the rice was AWESOME) and black beans on your left and marinated calamari with chorizo-chickpea ragout with spinach dressed with a cumin vinaigrette. Both dishes, along with the Caesar salad (which unfortunately wasn't too photogenic) were absolutely great, as were the glasses of wine we got. Drinking already? Hell yeah - we're on VACATION (although what I'm on vacation from, I'm not sure. Tweedle, she works and stuff.)

After an afternoon of walking around Berkeley, we stopped at XOX Truffles in Montclair. I went to their original store in North Beach when I was last in San Francisco, and my friend Katie always brings me back chocolates from here when she's up in the Bay Area (I do it for her also, but she gets up to San Francisco more often than I do). They make divine little truffles that are surprisingly very affordable. Plus, when you buy you get to sample. My faves are the Earl grey and the hazelnut liqueur ones.

It's good to know people have cleanliness on their minds. I can't believe more supermarkets don't do this. It's such a good idea. It is great being back in California too, by the way - you can buy alcohol in the supermarkets! And it is cheap and convenient!

We had dinner at Il Porcellino in Montclair with Tweedle's family that night. A nice little local Italian place.

Tweedle and I started with the beef carpaccio and the spinach salad with fried artichokes, sundried tomatoes, and goat cheese. The salad ingredients needed to be better incorporated together rather than just appearing as individual flavours. Perhaps if the sundried tomatoes had been soaked in olive oil, which then was used in the dressing? That would have tied it together better. We then split the seafood spaghetti carbonara which we were fascinated by. Carbonara without pancetta and with seafood instead?! Intriguing. Ah, but carbonara NEEDS the pancetta to add the salty smoky depth. Without it, while it was good, the dish was a touch on the bland side.

And then it was off to the HomieeOlympics! That is the reason we met up in Oakland in the first place, after all.

I love the t-shirts from the weekend. They're so cute. You have guys playing the games - Caps, Bid Whist, Dominoes, Beer Pong - as well as guys tapping the keg and grilling. Note the red cups. The red cups are important. Also note the lack of females on the shirt. Girls are not important, although shirts past had girls and babies, as the married 30-something year old men will bring their children to this event. I can't say I exactly approve of this - shouldn't the kidlets be sleeping at midnight instead of watching their fathers continue the drinking they started after school (did I mention that the majority of the participants are middle school teachers in the Oakland area? That the main organiser is the principal of an Oakland middle school? The future of America, in the homies' hands)?

This is a shot of the medals (yes, you get MEDALS) and "overall tightest player" plaque. I am not kidding when I say that the guys take this very seriously.

This is probably what that same scene looked like if you had been drinking for the past six hours.

They had already started their first event by the time we got there after dinner - ping pong, but with a cup of beer on the table. If you knock the beer over or your opponent hits a ball into your beer cup, there's this "team drink" chant that everyone does (it involves you circling your head with your red cup and chanting something) and then you have to drink. And it's not swill that the guys are drinking, but kegs of fine microbrewery beer. They do not skimp at the Olympics.

There is, of course, grilling. Not just any ol' sausages, but gourmet apple-turkey-gouda sausages. And hot links. Hot links are manly.

And a pizza dog. Literally. How ingenious! What a GREAT idea! (I am not even being sarcastic, I promise)

Our contribution to the festivities was a bottle of Boone's. It went over real well. Because you know, the vodka we brought was just for us. New great drink: Watermelon Smirnoff and soda. It tastes like a Jolly Rancher. Mmm.

And Jen, this pic is for you. These are pretty pedicured toes. My toes previous to that? YUCK. But here, they look nice. And that's what girls do. Take pictures of their feet while everyone else is on his 500th beer playing ping pong.