I Am Tempura Guy™!

I’d love to me known for the many things I’ve done. I wanted to be known as a great musician, but I was remembered for being the President of the San Francisco Aquarium Society. That wasn’t too bad because I got to be on television a few times, but what has happened over the passed two days is beyond me. I am now Tempura Guy™.

My wife and I visit the Trader Joe’s at Stonestown frequently. They have a tempura shrimp that is frozen and when you heat it up in the oven comes pretty close to beating Japanese restaurant tempura shrimp. One day we went to pick some up and they were out. I asked about it and was told that it wasn’t very popular so they discontinued it.

WHAT! In one of the largest Asian communities of San Francisco tempura shrimp wasn’t selling?!?! I immediately went to the Trader Joe’s website and sent them an email adding in a bit of saber rattling of how I would no longer be able to shop at Trader Joe’s in Stonestown and would have to move my business to the Westlake Trader Joe’s because they carry the tempura shrimp.

The next day I received an email from the manager of the Stonestown Trader Joe’s telling me how they welcome my business and that they would agree to stock tempura shrimp and it would be delivered on Tuesday. Well, I got held up a bit and didn’t get there until the Monday after the Tuesday only to find out that they were out of stock. I asked a girl about it and she said that it was probably discontinued because it wasn’t selling well. This was an Asian girl and I asked her if she ever tried it. She said, yeah, it was pretty good. Let me check with someone. She runs away and in a few minutes a manager comes out and hastily points to me and stammers out, you’re Tempura guy™.

Great, I’m Tempura Guy™. He then apologizes and tells me that he checked and there was an order arriving tonight that would be available on Tuesday. So Tuesday comes around and my wife says, hey Tempura Guy™ you want to run to Trader Joe’s and get dinner for tonight? Sure. I’m Tempura Guy™.

So off I go to Trader Joe’s and I check the case where they always have it and…it isn’t there. Trader Joe’s has angered Tempura Guy™ and he is displeased. I walk up to a worker in a Hawaiian shirt and tell my story. Half way into it he says, Tempura Guy™ and runs off to the back. He comes out sweating and stammering and says that they don’t have it in the back but wait, gimme a second and I’ll find it for you. He starts a frantic chase down the aisle and another worker says, can I help you find something and the other co-worker says tempura shrimp! The co-worker’s jaw drops and his finger points at me and he says, Tempura Guy™! It was right out of a Godzilla movie with the Japanese pointing to sky yelling GOJIRA! luckily they had moved it to a different location and I purchased two leaving only one left.

Tempura Guy™ is not pleased that they only ordered three tempura shrimp. Do not anger Tempura Guy™. You won’t like it when he’s angry.

Shrimp is good.


A funny thing happened on the way to the park

I had meant this to be my Monday post, but because I was a bit shocked about Darla’s closing I decided to hold off a day. After finishing my part two of Golden Gate Park I saw a tweet about the following “job opening” on craigslist. Click on the photo to read it in its entirety.

I have to admit it’s a pretty funny job listing, but what’s a little bit shocking is that some one is so pissed off about Park and Rec [now Recreation and Parks that they call it now] that they were willing to pay $75 to list this job of an job listing. My close personal friend Craig Newmark [who once banned me from his list] must be laughing all the way to the bank on this one.

I do have to admit that our parks are suffering a bit. When we were kids [and I’m sure my other close personal friend Steve will chime in on this] the parks were well grassy more than weedy. I have another close personal friend Nikolai [who deserves special notice because I’ve used that term and have actually met up with him in the past ten years] worked for the park system as a gardener.

Nikolai used to make sure that the grass was grass and the weeds were gone, that the grass got watered and didn’t turn the many colors it does other than green. We used to have a very nice show piece with the park where the only thing you had to worry about when you were being a rough kid with your friends was hitting the odd piece of crab grass that I remember as hurting like hell.

The drinking fountains used to work until some of the bigger kids would stuff gravel in them so that you’d get squirted with a high pressure blast of water which is what we all took our science classes to learn how to do. God knows where the water came from for those faucets, but I’m sure they’d be on a toxic waste list today.

The park used to be much nicer than it is today. The only way to get even close to the experience is to go out to the west end of the park around the chain of lakes at 45th Avenue [Sunset side] or 43rd Avenue [Richmond side]. That’s about as close as you’re going to find to the old GGP I knew as a kid. The playgrounds out around there have sand that the feral cats aren’t using as a litter box for some reason and it’s just a nice clean and green area. The Arboretum and Japanese Tea Garden used to be free and the DeYoung and Academy of Sciences didn’t cost you an arm and a leg. It was really a place to be proud of if you were from San Francisco. The Polo Fields used to have grass before it died off to the point that weeds don’t even want to grow there.

I’m hoping our interim Mayor Ed Lee reads this or at least someone forwarded him the craigslist job listing. Maybe he could do something to change the park for the better.


Golden Gate Park: Part One

I’m not sure how Golden Gate Park slipped off my radar in the past because it’s the largest attraction in San Francisco and houses some of the best places to visit in San Francisco, so today, we’re taking a trip to the park.

Built in 1893 as the home base for the 1894 Mid Winter Fair [San Francisco’s first world’s fair] the park was a masterpiece of architectural engineering because after all, it was built on the drifting sands of the outside lands. Golden Gate park is not only the largest park in San Francisco, but in comparison is three times the size of New York’s Central Park.

When it was built the contractors had the idea of putting in easy to care for trees that grew quickly and could be used for lumber. So they chose the eucalyptus tree because of its history. Unfortunately they chose the wrong species and planted lots of blue gum eucalyptus that are of no use to the lumber industry because of their high resin content, but they do give the park a distinct odor in the springtime through fall somewhere between urinal cake and mouthwash.

The park’s main gathering place is the Music Concourse which is flanked by the California Academy of Sciences and DeYoung Museum and Japanese Tea Garden. The stage which is the centerpiece is called the Spreckels Temple of Music, which has been home to thousands of bands in the 60’s-80’s as well as the centerpiece for the stand up comedy competition that drew thousands of people from all over the world and turn the park into more of a roadblock on some weekends.

East of the Concourse is the Conservatory of Flowers which is a pleasant trip, but you can enjoy the flowers and plants outside as well as the adjacent Dalhia Garden for free. Across the street from there and a short jog are the tennis courts, DeLavega Memorial Garden and the Koret Children’s playground. The Playground is an interesting stop as it is huge and hold’s a merry go round and miniature train kids can ride as well as two marble slides that park and rec workers used to keep in shape by sliding down on waxed paper to keep them smooth and give your kids a fast ride down into the sand pile. There is also across from the playground a lawn bowling area which is similar to bocce ball, but apparently with an attitude as there are signs that remind you that bocce ball is not allowed. That’s a bit of a shame since I haven’t seen a single person lawn bowling there for years on the well kept lawns.

Tomorrow I’ll continue on with the western park of the park that has places known to many, but other places that make up the quieter end of the park a special getaway.

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Mobile Foods/Mobile Phones

I stopped working downtown too soon. It wasn’t my choice, but I missed the first rush of the new sensation that’s sweeping San Francisco and everyone’s smartphone — food trucks. I’m not talking the old beat up taco trucks that you used to see in Oakland, but these are upscale trucks serving upscale food and the best way to find out about where they are in on you smartphone.

Here’s how it works. You pull out your mobile phone and download a Twitter app. Then you find and follow all the trucks around San Francisco. They really are more SF and the peninsula than just SF, but they seem to be focused around San Francisco at least a couple of days a week.

If you want to be an über-cool techie hipster geek you’ll get Eat Street which gives you a map that’s based on their GPS so you can see where they are when you want to get food. I use both because I like to talk back to the people to try and get them out to the Sunset and Richmond on sunny weekends [WHICH WE DO HAVE!!!!]

You can find more than just tacos and burritos now. We’ve got BBQ places that are cooking up some smoky goodness. Curry Up Now that  does burritos with an Indian twist [aweeesome!], Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches left and right. Pretty much if you can think of a food there’s someone out there in a truck that will sell it to you.

One of the best places to try and fill your food truck craving is Off The Grid that’s held in many places around San Francisco, but Fort Mason [5pm-10pm Fridays] seems to be what everyone is talking about because that hosts the most trucks [up to 30] and tents. I was down at Fort Mason one night and happened to see a huge amount of trucks out there with an even huger amount of people wandering around. The smell of all the different trucks wafting up through the open window just pulled me towards the trucks during a break. I think I ended up spending a little over $20 getting the small sampler plates as I call them from several of the trucks.

This was definitely some good food and I wish that we could get more of them to try coming out to Ocean Beach because on a sunny day there isn’t anything going on there to feed people. The biggest problem is that we usually know about a sunny day out here with about 15 minutes in advance. Most of the trucks have websites where you can check where they’re going to be that week if you don’t have a smartphone.

Food trucks are gaining more ground in San Francisco now that the city has made it easier for them to do business. Because they don’t have to pay rent it’s cheaper for them to operate which is bad for brick and mortar businesses, but good for you and me because they can produce the food cheaper. Check them out NOW!

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The Ady Gil does down

This isn’t a story about San Francisco per se, but it is about a friend of mine who lives in San Francisco. I won’t share his name to protect his anonymity, but he’s  flown off to join the crew of the Sea Shephed Conservation Society to serve a noble cause–the end of whaling. When was the last time you woke up and thought, hmmmm I want some whale today? Probably never. Part of that fact is that there has been a moratorium in place on commercial whaling for many years. The Japanese have made an end run though and saying their doing it for scientific research. What exactly is so scientific about killing and cutting up whales then putting them in cold storage?

My friend on board is an average guy yet remarkable. He is risking his life as well as his career and the possibility of facing jail time for what he believes in. Yes, you could say he’s a “Berkeley hippie type”, but he’s not. He’s the type of guy who’s trying to protect our environment and the animals that live in it. He was on a boat in the Antarctic Ocean watching as a Japanese whaling boat turned and rammed  a much smaller trimaran boat injuring several of the people on board who had to dive into arctic waters to save themselves. By international maritime law, this falls under piracy, by the laws of Australia and New Zealand it is considered an act of war. The Japanese on this ship aren’t just researchers as why would researchers need Swat armor and flash bang grenades or LRAD systems that our soldiers use? If you visit Animal Planet’s website you’ll see this for yourself.

Australia and New Zealand have condemmed the actions of the Japanese, but are also afraid of the possible loss of $52 Billion Australian dollars they get from the Japanese. From my understanding of this, while the Aussie might loose a bit of money, it will be for a short period of time. The coal and beef going the Japanese will not stop once they start getting cold and hungry.

I’ll be the first to admit, I like my meat, but I have to send out a word of thanks to a friend of mine who’s doing a good job in a place where it’s way to cold for me to go under conditions I don’t think I could tolerate. This is what San Francisco is all about, not smug yuppies that came from somewhere else who sit around drinking latte’s and swearing during our Board of Supervisor’s meetings, oh wait, that’s our local government.