Feb 142008

I keep saying that I’m going to stop making movies and focus on other projects, but there is something comforting about the process of creating a video. I feel the same way when doing yoga, or reading, or any other activity where I’m completely in control. It’s all very Zen.

Happy V Day.

Nov 282007
so delicious

I slowly circle it, taking in every angle of it’s beauty while it calmly stands there oblivious to my devious thoughts. I examine each of it’s 20 or so stems; the color and shape of it’s bloom, it’s proximity to the others and it’s scent. Finally I choose one. A slight tug and it’s free from it’s brothers and sisters. The bright green of the apple skin is flawless. Tiny beads of sweat have formed on it’s dark smooth chocolate dress. Perhaps it knows what comes next.

I raise it to my mouth. My lips embrace it as I bite it in half. The flavors — tart, bright, and a touch bitter — bursts into my mouth as my teeth crash down on it. The taste of it’s death dances across my tongue. The chocolate melts in the heat and it’s velvet coating sweeten and smooth out the flavor. It was better than I could imagine.

The note quietly watches the carnage. A quick glance at it, and I cannot help but smile.


I devour the other half and reach for my next victim.


Nov 232007

It’s been a long time since I’ve discovered a new fruit. I first heard chatter about this fruit here and before we could figure out what it was, the fruit guys dropped off a handful of them at our office.

So what is it? Pineapple guava. It has an artificial taste and smell, as if ‘artificial fruit flavor’ is derived from this plant. It’s goey and sticky on the inside, and a little slimy like Fiji water (very smooth, doesn’t taste like swamp). It would be good as an ingredient in a custard-style dessert, and probably best as the only flavor since it is so strong. The fruit is worth trying if you happen across it, but it’s not something I would actively seek out.

Update: The fruit guys are SO AWESOME. Here’s a list of what they send out for the week

Mar 062006

…are the my current fruit obsession. Here is a photo of these golden drops of deliciousness. I took this in Milan, where I first discovered the fruits at an open market. Thereafter, I was constantly on the hunt for them. They were often found at uppity “whole foods” equivalent produce stands for anywhere between 15 and 25 euros a kilo. (That’s about $8-14/lb, which is approximately the cost of black/raspberries) We had no idea what they were called in English. In Italian, the word for them started with ‘ak’ and there was at least 1 more k and the word was long-ish. Not italian, and unpronounceable. After a bit of research, I think the word was derived from the species name of it’s sister, Physalis alkekengi. These, commonly referred to as Chinese Lanterns have red pod coverings as opposed to the Cape gooseberries, which have yellowish pod coverings. Like a tomatillo, they also have tons of bitter tomato-like seeds.

It’s hard to describe their flavor. They’re a bit tangy and sour, but also perfumy and sweet and the slightest bit nutty. It is somewhat like a combination of a flavor king pluot and something else. I think they would go really well with lamb, though I would prefer eating them by themselves. They are very similar to the plants that Dennis grows. His look the same, except the berry is slightly larger than a pea. We still don’t know what those plants are called, but his parents grow them on the east coast, and they seem to like that climate much better.

I found Cape gooseberries at Berkeley Bowl. Oh sweet Berkeley Bowl, the love of my life. They are absolutely worth trying. Here’s a detailed description of them. I think that at some point in the future, I want to try growing them.

Jul 092005

It is very strange how generic all the non-clothing stores are. 
There is a Tabaccaia, which sells stamps, bus passes, lotto tickets,
envelopes, phone cards, gum, etc etc. about every 200 yards.  They
are all, for the most part, exactly the same.  Some sell jewelry
and other nick knacks, but beyond that there is no difference. 
The stores don’t even have names.  A simple large black T
indicates what they are.  All farmacie are marked by a glowing
green +, also with no names.  The products in these shops are
somewhat more varied. Chopin, a popular Italian clothes brand (and
famous composer) is on every street, just like Starbucks.

We are currently in the midst of the most amazing shopaholic’s
dream.  Twice a year, in July and in January all clothing stores
have a massive sale at the same time.  The sale starts today and
lasts for 3 weeks.  It is scary how unified the shopping world is
here.  They all close from 2-4 and they all start their sale on
the same day.  There are often no ‘sale’ sections in a
store–everything is full price, but on this day, everything is marked
down 20-50% (well almost.  I bought two bras today that were full
priced because they weren’t on display.  Underwear here costs
about the same as it does in the States).  In addition, the
quality and intricacies of a piece of clothing is unbelievable. 
Today I bought a skirt for 15e (about $22)  that I am certain
would sell for at least $60 at home, probably closer to $100. 
It’s quite cute, but I won’t bore people with the details. 
Generally, though, the quality to price ratio varies a lot, and it is
not hard to find great deals on beautiful clothes.  Unfortunately,
this caused me to drop 100e in 2 hours.  I guess it’s just pasta
and tomatoes for the rest of the month…

All native Italian food is much cheaper here than at home.  For
example, 1 lb of vine ripe tomatoes cost about 50cents here vs. $2-4 in
the states.  They don’t even sell non-vine ripe tomatoes (except
for these very un ripe ones that serve some different purpose, as they
are carefully separated from the red tomatoes and they cost
more).  The cheapest pasta is 20cents a pound, but I went to a
specialty store and they sold me a pound of wheat pasta for 3e.  I
may have gotten ripped off, but I’m not entirely sure.  I would
rather have the penis shaped pasta, sold next to the Vatican, that is
the same price.

Slightly more exotic foods, like apples, raspberries, Kellogs corn
flakes are the same price.  American-brand foods, like Pringles
($2 for a can) and Mentos ($1.50 for a stick) cost a lot more, with the
exception of cereal brands.

There is a farmer’s market every day except Sunday from 7am-2pm. 
This is the place to go for fresher produce, more varieties of meat,
seafood and cheese and better prices.  We live in a fabulous
location (more on that later) where we are 1 block away from the open

I haven’t had a chance to go out to a nice restaurant, as my peers are
more interested in drinking, but I’ll eventually find someone to go
with me.  In any case, the food looks really good and many people
lounge outside for their 2+hour long dinners.  I went to the
supposedly best gelataria in Rome, and the gelato was very creamy and
smooth.  It tasted good, but I’m not sure what makes good
gelato.  Gelataria Naia in Berkeley is pretty awesome.

Location and accommodations
We live in a prime location, Residence Candia, in the central part of
Rome.  Piazza San Pietro (the Vatican) is an 8 minute walk
away.  On the way to school, a beautiful 45 min walk or 30 min bus
ride, I pass by the Vatican, St. Angelo’s castle, Piazza Navona, and
the Pantheon.  Depending on the route, which I try to vary daily,
there are a plethora of churches, fountains and statues to stop and
admire.  I have a lot of photos, but I want to figure out what
they are of before I post them.

I have a single room with a small double bed.  The room fits the
bed and has 2 feet of walking space on one side.  There is a
bureau, a lingerie drawer and a night stand squeezed somewhere in
there.  The place is tiny, which actually motivates to keep the
room spotless.  We have a nice common space that includes a
kitchen/everything table and a couch.  Everything is designed
space-efficiently.  The bottom shelf of the cabinets over the sink
is a dish drying rack.  We wash our dishes, put them on the shelf
and the water just drips down onto the sink.  I think it is my
favorite feature.  There is daily cleaning service, but they don’t
wash our dishes.  Yesterday I washed some of my clothes in the
sink, because doing laundry is very expensive here; 3.50e to wash and
3.50 to dry a small load.  It was pretty weird for me since I
don’t even wash ‘hand wash only’ clothes.  My two main desires for
my apartment in Milan are now a telephone line and a washing
machine.  Dryers are very rare, as electricity is expensive.

Being a tourist
I haven’t had a chance to go into to any museums or churches yet, but
last night my new friend, Adam, and I were going to go to a jazz club
near our residence.  Turns out that on a Friday night at 11pm it
was closed; not just wrapping up closed, but dead quiet closed. 
Instead we just started walking and bumped into a bar on the corner of
a street in the middle of the sidewalk.  It looked like one of
those huts you see in Hawaii, except that it was a full bar.  We
had another drink there and moved on. (Oh, yes.  I forgot to
mention that I took a shot of absinthe before leaving the house. 
Some boys purchased 2 bottles, and I prepared a glass with the sugar
and ice water thing, but it didn’t work well since we didn’t have the
right spoon.  That glass tasted ok, though, but it was too
complicated a process, so they just started putting a spoon full of
sugar at the bottom of a shot glass and pouring absinthe over it. 
They got very, very drunk on it and the one shot that I tried was quite
nasty.  Awful, like it shouldn’t be consumed that way, since it’s
not.  I will also note that they paid 25e per bottle, just to get
excessively smashed.) 

We wandered around for a while (Adam pretended to know where he was
going) and he showed me this awesome place overlooking piazza
Popolo.  The view of the city was beautiful.  After that, we
went to the Spanish steps, which is another gorgeous place where punk
rockers and musicians and lovers hang out.  It turns out that we
were right next to the Trevi fountain, but since I have no sense of
direction, I didn’t suggest we go there.  This is the famous
fountain where you throw two coins over your shoulder into the fountain
and you will return to Rome someday.  We then wandered in some
other direction and we suddenly at the Monumento a Vittorio
Emanuele.  It is absolutely stunning.  I can’t emphasize
enough the beauty of this place.  Of course, I thought we were
just going to listen to jazz, so I left my camera at home.  Next
was the Foro Romano, where the Senate took place and Ceasar was
supposedly murdered.  Finally, we stood in humbled awe of the
Coliseum and decided to start wandering home.

We found a sign pointing us towards Piazza San Pietro and after walking
in that direction for a bit, we were at school.  I somehow thought
that everything was very far away from each other, so this was a bit of
a surprise.  We didn’t stop to take a look at the Pantheon on our
way back, but it is a block away from where we take classes. 
Crossing the Tevere river for the second time that night, we admired
the serene view of the Castel Sant’Angelo.  We moved on, and after
spending some time at the Piazza San Pietro, we finally ended up at
home.  We had been wandering the streets of Rome for about 4
hours.  The city is surprisingly small and we saw most of the
major attractions.  Of course, I intend to go back to all of the
places and many others.  As impressive as it is to stand in front
of so many famous places, I want to admire all the artwork inside these