Sunday, October 24, 2010

Opera in the City - Madama Butterfly

Madama Butterfly at the SF Opera
I didn't like the 1st act. I am not sure if it is because I needed to warm up to Cio-cio-san's voice or the uncomfortable feeling caused by a sharp pebble inside my shoe.
It took me awhile to find the appropriate shoes for this event. Not those with rubber soles because they have to sound sophisticated when I walk on the marble floors of the Opera House. Not that the clacking sound can be heard easily because it just gets lost with the other noise echoing inside the opera hall. Mijo also thinks it is obsessive compulsive. I think so too. It was a lot easier when I was younger when my choices were between a pair of black school shoes and a pair of tennis shoes. But I'm not in Novaliches anymore, I thought to myself.
A few minutes after we left the house, I felt something inside the shoes. Something hard. Something small and sort of sharp. Because I didn't want to bend down to undo my shoes, doing so will wrinkle my jacket and my shirt, I decided that I'll take care of it as soon as we get to the opera. We took BART that night so just imagine how uncomfortable it was walking to the Glen Park station and from the Civic Center station to the Opera house.
From afar, I could see the facade of the Cityhall and the Opera house bathed in orange lights in honor of the SF Giants. They were playing that night against the Phillies. The thought of the Giants and the scenery in the Civic Center provided the needed distraction from the pain caused by the sharp pebble.
Finally, Cio-cio san gets married with Pinkerton and then the moment I was waiting for, Intermission. I ran to the nearest men's room to undo my shoes without any care if it will wrinkle my shirt. I remember it was extra hard to bend down. It must be the extra weight, it must be age? But what a relief when I took out the culprit!
When I went back to my seat and I can see Mijo smiling sensing the big difference. It was as if he saw a whole new different person. A few seats away, a group of people was gathered around and then they all cheered and clapped. I was told the Giants just won another one-run win against the Phillies.
Act 2 was superb and the sharp pebble made the difference. :D
(The photo above was taken inside the War Memorial Opera House. Taking pictures is not allowed but I thought I can get away with this since the performance of Madama Butterfly has not started yet.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Change of Season in the City

It is Tuesday and I wish I were motivated to do great things at work today. I've been trying hard but it isn't working.
Am I due for a vacation? I think I am though in my opinion, it is an extravance to take a trip during recession. Aside from the money one needs to spend for an exotic trip, I dread playing catch-up at work because I always end up working more hours when I go back to the office.
Maybe it is lack of sleep? I’ve been on grave yard shift for two days at the Command Center for the company’s bi-annual worldwide release so perhaps it is just harder to recover and get back to normal bed time at this age?
Some people say that moods are associated with the weather. There must be some truth to that since the season is changing. It is still fall but I can already smell winter in the air.
Should I go on a long break and get a haircut for tomorrow’s plan to see the Opera? Maybe I should.
(The photo above was taken around the Ferry Building farmer's market in San Francisco, CA)

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Ceviche tostada in the City

This weekend is one of those rare weekends where I am pager-free, errand-free, and Salvadoran-free. Mijo had to go across the Bay to visit his mom so after our short trip to the farmers market to have breakfast and shop for the week's essentials early in the morning, I had the entire day to myself. I went to the tennis courts to practice serving for half an hour, took a shower, and went to the library to pick up the photography books I requested online.
Since the man of the kitchen is gone for the day, I thought of preparing a little something something for my snack slash late lunch that is light but doesn't require a lot of cooking. I made something close to what is called a ceviche tostada, something that I learned from the Salvadoran. The good thing about being with someone from a different background, that is, from a Latin American heritage, I not only immerse myself with the Spanish language, I also get to adapt my taste buds to their rich cuisine.
At least, this is how my version went.

Corn tortilla. Start by toasting this thin shell made of corn. This is commonly called corn tortilla or plainly a tostada. It usually comes in several varieties depending on the corn used to make the tortilla.
I used the yellow corn variety that is already crunchy so all I have to do is lightly toast it in the convection oven.

Ceviche. Put the ceviche on top of the tostada. Ceviche is a dish generally served in coastal Latin American restaurants, is made of raw fish marinated in lime juice.

For this snack, I used sea bass since I needed a white fish meat that does not smell too fishy. The meat of this fish gets silky as it cooks in lime which is perfect for ceviche.

Tomato Salsa. For Latin American food connoisseurs, this is called pico de gallo. In California, this is plainly called salsa.
For this dish, I diced two medium sized ripe tomatoes that I bought from the farmers market. One small onion, diced. Sprigs of cilantro or chinese parsley, chopped. One small lemon, juiced. Salt and pepper to taste.

Guacamole. This is just another name for avocado. This fruit adds that creamy texture to Latin American food.
For this recipe, I used a medium sized ripe avocado. The one I got from the farmers market is a variety that stays green even when ripe. Serve it mashed, squeeze a small lemon and add two tablespoons of the tomato salsa to add color.

Add tabasco hot sauce, salt and pepper as condiment. For this one, I used a Chili oil made of sesame seed to add that Asian twist into this Latin American comfort food.
Buen provecho!