Longest California Roll record returns to the Golden State

Yesterday afternoon, I reported on the creation of the longest California Roll yesterday for an upcoming edition of The California Report. The event celebrated the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Center for Japanese Studies at UC Berkeley. The new record, set at 330 feet, apparently defeated the old record set in Hawaii in 2001 by 30 feet.

I interviewed student Zach Brown, Chef Ming Hwang, Prof. Duncan Williams, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, and Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine, who certified the new record.

NBC, AP, Oakland Tribune, The Daily Californian all have stories up, too.

It was pretty freakin’ rad.

Pumpkin Scones: Sunday morning baking

Last night, I had the sudden urge to make pumpkin scones, so Bex and I hit the new Berkeley Bowl West for supplies, before getting drinks at Marc 49. By the time we got home, I decided that they were obviously they’re better over breakfast. So I woke up this morning at about 8:30 and went to work. Within an hour, this is what came out of my oven. They were shockingly easy to make.

I used the recipe from the Cheese Board Collective cookbook, page 44.

Pretty flippin’ good, if I do say so myself. However, I just realized I forgot to put in the buttermilk and cream. Good thing I have enough materials for a second batch.

Fruitvale taco truck bike tour with Cyrus (Oct. 25, 2009)

Before it gets too rainy, I thought I’d take whoever would like to join me for a taco truck bike tour of my four favorite trucks in Fruitvale this Sunday:

When: Sunday, October 25, 2009
Meet: 12:30 pm, Lake Merritt BART station (9th and Oak St., Oakland).
Start: ~ 12:45 pm
End: ~ 3 pm ish, Fruitvale BART station

1) Tacos Sinaloa at 22nd Ave./International Blvd. (via 10th St., International Boulevard)
2) Tacos El Grullo at 26th Ave./International Blvd.
3) Mi Grullense at 30th Ave./International Blvd.
4) El Ojo de Agua at E. 12th St./Fruitvale Ave.
5) Nieves Cinco de Mayo (ice cream) at 3340 E 12th St.

When it’s all said and done, feel free to bike or BART home. Anyone is welcome to join up or leave at anytime, obviously.

Afterwards, I might even be up for a beer at The Trappist (8th/B’way, downtown Oakland).

Bring: bike, helmet, $10-$15 for tacos+ice cream, camera if you want to document the deliciousness

RSVP: Email me cfarivar [at] cfarivar [dot] org. Put “Fruitvale taco truck bike tour” in the subject line.

All are welcome!

Creating a new SF Bay Area Farmer’s Market map

So I have a set of data in a Google Docs spreadsheet of SF Bay Area Farmer’s Markets. Each market has data for the following columns: Day, County, Location, Hours, Months, Intersection, City, State, ZIP, Phone, URL. There are entries for over 100 markets.

What I want is a simple web page (ideally iPhone-friendly) that will have a few text input fields: ZIP, City, Day (or even a pull-down menu for each one). Then based on those inputs, the program would pull the five nearest farmer’s markets and list them (and ideally plot them on a Google Map).


Today is: Tuesday
I’m in: Oakland
My ZIP is: 94618

Click here to show me the markets!

I think this should be pretty easy. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just functional. Who can do this and/or show me how to do it myself?

August 7: Cyrus on Morning Edition (NPR)

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my piece on TCHO chocolate is on Morning Edition today (August 7).

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams).

New York – 5 am to 9 am Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM – www.wnyc.org
Washington, DC – 5 am to 10 am Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM – www.wamu.org
Los Angeles – 2 am to 9 am Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 6 am to 9 am Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM – www.wgbh.org
San Francisco – 3 am to 9 am Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM – www.kqed.org

It will also be archived at npr.org and at my site if you miss it.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Update: Audio is here.

Michael Pollan on cooking in America (or lack thereof)

For the record, I *love* to cook, as evidenced by the photo above. Just made some flippin’ fantastic pizza last night, too. Still, this article is pretty thought-provoking. -CF

Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch
by Michael Pollan
The New York Times Magazine
August 2, 2009

But here’s what I don’t get: How is it that we are so eager to watch other people browning beef cubes on screen but so much less eager to brown them ourselves? For the rise of Julia Child as a figure of cultural consequence — along with Alice Waters and Mario Batali and Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse and whoever is crowned the next Food Network star — has, paradoxically, coincided with the rise of fast food, home-meal replacements and the decline and fall of everyday home cooking.

That decline has several causes: women working outside the home; food companies persuading Americans to let them do the cooking; and advances in technology that made it easier for them to do so. Cooking is no longer obligatory, and for many people, women especially, that has been a blessing. But perhaps a mixed blessing, to judge by the culture’s continuing, if not deepening, fascination with the subject. It has been easier for us to give up cooking than it has been to give up talking about it — and watching it.

Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of “Top Chef” or “Chopped” or “The Next Food Network Star.” What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.

NYT: A New Iran Overture, With Hot Dogs

The New York Times, June 1 2009:

SAN SALVADOR — Having sent the Iranian people a video greeting on their New Year, President Obama is now inviting them to help celebrate a quintessentially American holiday, the Fourth of July.

Last Friday, the State Department sent a cable to its embassies and consulates around the world notifying them that “they may invite representatives from the government of Iran” to their Independence Day celebrations — annual receptions that typically feature hot dogs, red-white-and-blue bunting and some perfunctory remarks about the founding fathers.

Administration officials characterized the move as another in a series of American overtures to Iran. The United States has not had relations with Iran since the American Embassy in Tehran was seized by protesters in 1979; the country’s diplomats have not been formally invited to American events since then.

“It is another way of saying we are not putting barriers in the way of communicating,” said one administration official. “It is another way of signaling that there is an opportunity that should not be wasted.”

A second official said the ban no longer made sense, at a time when the United States was actively engaging with Iranian officials elsewhere. In March, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C. Holbrooke, chatted with Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh, at a conference in The Hague.

The authorization to issue the invitations was disclosed by a senior State Department official on the eve of a three-day visit to Latin America by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the new policy was not public.

While I love the idea of Iranian diplomats (ahem), hamming it up with American diplomats over a barbecue, I do hope that the Americans remember to bring some halal — or at the very least, non-pork — sausages to grill.

Maybe one of the Iranians can even bring this grill and tea set as a gesture of goodwill.

Big ups to Andy Raskin!

Big ups to my buddy Andy Raskin, whose memoir The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life has just been released.

I attended a reading of his at Booksmith last night in the Lower Haight.

But don’t worry, he’s on tour in SF and points beyond this month and throughout the summer. Check his site for details.

Andy wrote and produced one of my all-time favorite pieces of radio — on the subject of Ramen Jiro in Tokyo — which aired on NPR’s All Things Considered on January 19, 2004.

Congrats, Andy!