Silent Frisco

Upon returning to the Bay Area I set a long-term goal for myself of getting to know some the nooks and crannies of San Francisco, the hidden hotspots that aren’t advertised to tourists but that are loved and adored by San Francisco locals. Because I have a particular love for music, I am especially hoping to find a few quirky cafes and/or up-and-coming lounges that have frequent live music performances. I’ve been reading SFWeekly and a few local blogs consistently, not only because I love the stories, but also because I hope that they will give me some ideas about places I should check out. Well, this week I had my first success in finding a cool event that definitely had a unique San Francisco vibe to it.

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This past Sunday, Silent Frisco put on their first concert of the season at Ocean Beach. Silent Frisco is a San Francisco based company dedicated to creating a unique musical experience through the creation of silent raves. (Well, maybe “rave” isn’t necessarily the right word. I’ve heard the term “silent rave” before and think it has a cool exciting ring to it, but if you asked the people working for Silent Frisco about what they do, they might use the term “concert” rather than “rave” since the artists they host perform music that falls outside of the range of what at least I consider to be typical rave music. For the sake of writing this post though, I’m going to use the term “rave” just because I think it’s more fun). Upon collecting a ticket from Will Call, each person received a set of headphones. These headphones were then used throughout the concert to listen to the music being played by the DJs on stage. This effectively made the rave completely “silent” to anyone walking by. Everyone in the audience however, had his/her head filled with music. What’s interesting is that even though each person was listening individualistically, it was just as easy to get sucked up into the beats and to feel the pulse of the music within the crowd, just like at any other concert. There are two major benefits to hosting a concert in this format. One, it allows music to be performed in public spaces that usually can’t be used as concert venues because of noise restrictions, and two it allows the DJs to play around more with the sounds. For example, they don’t need to rely on bass-heavy music that will reach the ears of listeners at the back of a crowd. This gives them the freedom to explore a wider range of rhythms and to experiment with higher pitches.

Now, about the concert. The official start was 1pm. Since I had no idea what to expect from this event, or even how it was going to work, I decided that we should get there a bit early to check out the scene. Even though there was essentially no one there when we arrived I’m glad we got there as early as we did. It made parking super easy and we had the opportunity to see what went into setting up for the event. We also were able to watch as the DJs and their groupies arrived. This was particularly cool because I think we got a glimpse into the underground clubbing scene in SF. You could easily tell who was a part of this community because they were all dressed in weird costumes, or else in clothes that made the ones worn by your stereotypical hipster seem ordinary. There was also a lot of face paint and glitter going on. Not going to lie, this kind of made me wish I had thought to whip out my sparkly eyeliner from middle school, just because this is probably one of the few opportunities I’ll have to wear something like that and who doesn’t want to add a bit of extra shine to their face. Especially when you’re on the beach and are going to be getting more than enough sunshine to reflect off the metallic sparkles.

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The quiet beginnings

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At 1:00 we walked over to Will Call to collect our tickets and receive our headphones. We then perched ourselves on the wall of the boardwalk to do some quality people watching as the crowds began to arrive. It was really an event for everyone. Because it took place on the beach there was enough space for each person to find his or her niche within the concert. While part of the beach was populated by festival-junkies wearing extravagant garb and dancing as if they were from another world, there were other also sections of the beach were people were throwing around Frisbees and having picnics.  It was simultaneously a low-key family event and a music festival.

About an hour/ hour and a half into the event, the concert began to pick up as more and more people started to arrive. More people means more energy, and as a greater number of people started to get up and dance I too found myself on my feet swaying and dancing to the music playing in my ears. The weirdest thing about the concert was that when you took off your headphones everything really was relatively quiet, minus the slight chatter of the crowd. The first few times I took off my headphones I actually laughed out loud because everyone just looked so funny grooving to the same rhythm without any audible signs of music. It was also fun to look around and see yourself bopping to the same beat or singing to the same song as a person 100 yards away. Initially, because you were wearing headphones, there was this sensation that it was just you and the music; the way it usually is when you have headphones on.  This time though, you and 100s of other people were all on the same page and were all connected in a very special way.

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There were several different DJs featured throughout the day: Random Rab, Worthy, El Papachango, Little John, Motion Potion, u9life, DJ Manclub, Matt Haze, and Phleck. For a full description of each DJ’s unique style click here. I would also definitely check out Sunset Promotions website (click here). They are the company that supports Silent Frisco. They do some really great work to help create innovative artistic experiences and to help sustain the artist community of SF.  Anyway, the variety of music provided by the DJs was perfect. There was a mix of jazz, trance, reggae, Latin, 80s funk, recent hits and even a Jackson 5 throwback. Even though some of the music wasn’t stuff I would typically listen to, particularly the trance and house music that popped up, something about the vibe of the concert sucked me in and made me really get into everything being played. We didn’t stay until the end because we got pretty tired, but the 5 hours (I know, 5 hours!! I can’t believe how quickly the time flew by) that we spent there were awesome! I learned I can really enjoy music that had never really interested me before, made a few friends new friends, and experienced something completely and totally different.

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Even the littlest of tikes joined in

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Dancing by the water 🙂
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A Day of Kindness: 22 Acts of Kindness for My 22nd Birthday

Today I completed my 22 Acts of Kindness project. Here’s a list of all the things I set out to do.

  1. Give flowers to residents of the senior living center down the street from me
  2. Buy coffee for the homeless man, George, who always sits outside of Peete’s Coffee
  3. Write letters to my past teachers, thanking them for inspiring me as a student
  4. Give get-well-soon presents to kids at the Stanford Children’s Hospital (I bought them each a lollipop, smiley face stickers, and a keychain)
  5. Leave a “treasure” (a smiley face pop-up toy) hidden on the play structure in the park for a little kid to find
  6. For one day, pick up all the trash I see on the street
  7. Provide gardeners with apples and water
  8. Leave happy notes on the windshield of parked cars
  9. Help someone at the grocery store
  10. Surprise my dad by making dinner for him
  11. Give kids at the pond bread to feed the ducks
  12. Write inspirational quotes with chalk on the sidewalk of downtown
  13. Give thank you cards to the garbage men
  14. Leave sticky notes with inspirational quotes on the mirrors of a public bathroom
  15. Feed a parking meter that’s about to expire
  16. Give a dog at the local animal shelter some love
  17. Pay for the order of the person behind me in the drive-through at Starbucks
  18. Give a compliment to 22 people on the street
  19. Drop off donuts at the fire station and thank the firemen for what they do
  20. Give everyone in my family a coupon which they can redeem for a favor
  21. Give stickers to kids in the park
  22. Write a letter to an old friend
  23. (And number 23, just for good luck) Clean my mom’s car

As with any project, there were pros and cons to the way I went about completing this.

Pros

  • It took me out of my comfort zone a bit
  • Starting off the day with the intention of doing as many good things as possible put me in an amazing mood, especially once I actually started the project. I found myself wanting to give everyone on the street a hug and to thank everyone I passed for no reason at all.
  • I met a bunch of people I otherwise wouldn’t have met and made a lot of them smile

Cons

  • Creating a list of things that needed to get done within a specific timeframe made doing some of them seem like a chore. After a few hours I started getting tired and wanted to just spend the day outside enjoying the sunshine, rather than running around so that I could check things off my list. I feel like acts of kindness  should really come from the goodness of one’s heart, rather than out of a competitive spirit which was the only thing that kept me going after a while. I felt I had created a mission for myself and I had to complete it. I think a better way to go about doing a project like this would be to write up a list and then post it somewhere you’ll see it every morning. This way, the list will serve as a reminder to be kind and it will be in the back of your head. I think it would be much more productive and much more interesting to let life present you with unique opportunities, rather than on creating a list of things that you think you should do. Opportunities are everywhere and as long as your eyes and your mind are open to them, you will be able to take advantage of them.

The Beach: A People Watching Hotspot

You find all types of different people at the beach, which for those of us who sometimes like to just sit back and take in our surroundings makes it one of the best places to soak up some rays. While getting that golden brown skin that is so highly coveted, you also get to perform a very interesting observational study. You can learn about fashion, pick up some new slang, take notes about which types of sunscreen work best, and learn a cool new way to dive for that ball you always seem to miss when playing volleyball. Another beautiful thing about the beach is that it’s the one place where everyone seems comfortable enough to show it all off. Regardless of the insecurities people may face in ordinary life, at the beach all inhibitions are set aside in order show off their cute and brightly colored swimsuits, and to fully enjoy the sun and the waves. Another reason why the beach is great is that you almost never see a grumpy or sad face. Rather, the shore is lined with people smiling, laughing, or simply looking content with life. Families play with their children and teach the youngest ones how to dip their toes into the cold water, teenagers gossip about school, and several friends throw around a football while others throw around a Frisbee. The beach has something for everyone, hence the basis of its appeal. Because the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has the amusement park right along the beach, here you get an even more varied selection of people. You get the adrenaline junkies, the city folk looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, as well as plenty of quirky locals who you can tell in an instant by their dreads, bohemian garb or surfer look that they were born and raised in Santa Cruz. Here are some pics I snapped during my own people-watching escapade (and by that I mean as I sat there with my camera and tried to find something interesting to point it at without actually moving).

Skim boarding
Sitting and Watching
girls gossiping
Runnnn!Jumping pic

My Apologies – Stay Tuned

So I know I said I was going to be carrying out my 22 Acts of Kindness project today, but I’ve spent the last 2 days running around like crazy trying to move myself in back at home. I arrived back from college to find my closet almost empty and really needed clothes to wear, so I’ve been busy going through boxes and unpacking. Unfortunately, this means I didn’t have time to prep for my 22 Acts of Kindness project. Don’t worry though. It’s still happening. My ambitious self just didn’t consider that the third day back home might not be the best day to take on this day-long project. I’m still really excited about it and have my list written out of things I want to do, so it’s happening!!! I’m setting a tentative deadline of next weekend, but as to not disappoint again, I’m allowing myself until June 9th to get it done. 

Tom Sawyer Camp Trail

This morning I decided to check out a new trail that I heard was supposed to be beautiful, peaceful, and a long-time hot-spot for runners, bikers, hikers, and anyone looking to get outdoors and enjoy both the sun and a little physical activity.  The place was called Tom Sawyer Camp Trail and is located along Skyline Boulevard in Burlingame, Ca. Since the early hours of the day are by far my favorite time to run, I decided to get myself up with the sun in order to get out there and start moving while the air was still fresh and the natural world still waking up.  I was surprised by how many runners were already there when I arrived at just passed 8:00. Seeing so many people made me even more excited to start running though. Everyone was happy to be there and eager to get their blood pumping. As I started down the trail, I immediately understood why this place was so popular. The path was paved, making for an easy run since there was no need to worry about tripping over rocks or roots. The view from the trail out over the Crystal Springs Reservoir was fantastic. I’ve always thought this body of water combined with the surrounding wooded area formed one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Bay Area, but I never realized it was possible to get down below the road and to run alongside the water. I wish I had had my phone with me so that I could have taken some pictures. The water was a brilliant blue and perfectly complemented the rich green of the surrounding woods. The trail itself weaved in and out of the trees. This provided a good balance between shaded and open ground. It also kept the scenery interesting and varied. The entire trail is about 6.5 miles, meaning that it’s long enough for nearly all levels of runners to get a good workout. If you ran from one end to the other, then turned around and came back you would have essentially completed a half marathon! Each half-mile is marked by signs, allowing you to easily run your intended distance even if you didn’t bring any fancy GPS equipment with you. Overall, I give the place a huge thumbs up. Trail running is such a great way to keep workouts interesting and this trail is definitely a gem. 

The Fanciest Meal I Have Ever Eaten

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me introduce you to the most fancy and exciting meal I have ever had the pleasure to indulge in. Needless to say, the hours between 7:00pm and 9:30pm on May 21, 2013 were a culinary adventure. Let me start you off by introducing you to the restaurant. The place was called Toppers and is located at 120 Wauwinet Road, Nantucket, MA 02554. If I could classify the type of food they serve I would, but unfortunately I lack the culinary knowledge or vocabulary to do so. I think the only way for you to really understand the exquisite nature of the dishes they serve is to check out the menu for yourself (click here for Toppers menu).

Now, to take you down the first road of the journey. The adventure began, as usual, with a breadbasket. The woven bowl placed on our table contained an assortment of warm breads including a lightly sweetened brioche, focaccia with caramelized onions, dill and olive bread, slightly salted bread sticks, and a plate of English black bread on the side. In my personal opinion, the black bread took the gold metal. It was sweet and slightly fruity with some hidden spice that tied the whole thing together and gave it a complexity that kept you interested and wanting more.

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After the breadbasket came the English pea soup, a cold strangely green soup that was poured on top of a beautiful arrangement of fresh peas and diced onions that were sitting on the bottom of a tiny bowl next to a dap of ricotta cheese and dill garnish. Needless to say, the flavors combined beautifully with one another. The soup was refreshing and delightful.

English Pea Soup

Next up came the first course. I ordered the “Charcoal Grilled Octopus,” which was accompanied by piment d’ espelette, pickled fennel, piquillo piperade, “Black” potatoes (aka potatoes covered in squid ink), and sauce vierge. If you have no idea what any of that is, no worries, I didn’t either. I just saw the word octopus on the menu and thought, “Wow that’s exciting. I’ve never had octopus before. That’s definitely what I have to go for.” To be honest, I still have no idea what any of those ingredients are, even after enjoying the dish. All I know is that the combination was very interesting and reminiscent of some of the flavors I’ve tasted in Asian dishes. Here is a picture of what the dish looked like so that instead of trying to envision this mystery meal you can actually see what it looked like.

Octopus
The octopus was much tougher that I expected. It was nothing like calamari, as I had been imagining prior to tasting it. The pickled fennel served as a great compliment because it added some additional texture and softness to the food in your mouth. My favorite part of the dish though was probably the potatoes covered in squid ink. I’ve seen squid ink used on the Food Channel before, but that’s been my only experience with it prior to last night. I never expected that it would be as flavorful as it was. Granted, they may have added some spices to it in order to make it as delicious as it was, but regardless, I’m usually not a huge fan of potatoes and these were great!

In addition to my own dish, I also tried a sample of my brother Jeffery’s lobster risotto and my mom’s “young spring vegetables.” Both these dishes were equally as fantastic as my own, but I can’t speak as in depth about the flavors since I only had a small bite of each. I have to say though, the vegetable medley was visually beautiful. This picture doesn’t quite do the colors justice.

Veggie Medley

After the first course came the main course. Both Jeffrey and I ordered “Dry Aged Pekin Duck Breast” with bull’s blood beets, pearl barley, poached rhubarb, and manjari bitter chocolate jus. I wish I had a picture to show you, but unfortunately the picture I took just didn’t come out well. I can show you a picture of what my mom ordered though. She decided to go with the “48 Hour Sous-Vide Pineland Farms Short Ribs” with heirloom carrots, smoked potatoes, bone marrow custard, and black garlic jus.

ribs

I tried the ribs, and they were good, but I enjoyed my duck much more. The beets in particular were fabulous! I actually think they were the best beets I’ve ever had. The pearl barley and poached rhubarb were also wonderful compliments that added a complexity, in both flavor and texture, that the duck lacked on its own.

Following the main course came the “pre-desert,” a shot glass filled with a strawberry parfait. I was getting pretty full at this point so I only intended to eat a little bit in order to save room for the real desert, but once I tasted it I couldn’t help myself. I had to finish it. It essentially tasted like strawberry shortcake. The bottom layer was vanilla bean custard. On top of this rested slightly sweetened strawberries that were garnished with a crumbly brown sugar and oat topping. Yummmm!

Parfait

And last, but certainly not least, came the desert. Unfortunately the one we ordered is not listed on the online menu so I can’t tell you the fancy-smancy name, but it was essentially a “coffee, chocolate, hazelnut delight.” Regardless of how good everything else was, this was the best! Three small chocolate brownie discs were topped with coffee-flavored mascarpone and garnished with a hazelnut crisp.  There was also some sort of brittle (I couldn’t figure out what kind) topped with a scoop of hazelnut ice cream. The plate also had droplets of rich, homemade chocolate sauce sprinkled upon it. My mouth is watering just thinking about all of it.  I wish I could provide you with a sample rather than just a picture, because the visual representation just doesn’t do the desert justice.

Desert

To finish off the meal and to appease my very full stomach I also ordered some mint tea. Not to be repetitive, but I think this mint tea was also the best I’ve ever had. It was made with fresh mint, rather than the dried mint you usually find in tea bags. It was so light and refreshing. I wish I could have taken some home with me.

And that, my friends, concludes the story of last night’s culinary adventure. I hope my descriptions were as mouth watering as the dishes themselves, although I admit, my words alone definitely do not accurately convey the experience.

Hey Look, we graduated!!

Hey Look, we graduated!! Thank you to everyone who helped make this journey both possible and incredibly special. I’ll never forget my time at Conn. I learned a lot, made some amazing friends, experienced more than I could have hoped for, and had a great time along the way. Now it’s time to move on to even bigger things. Watch out World a group of smart, driven, and talented camels are heading your way! Check out pics from the big day here. http://ow.ly/lf1zt

Here’s a quick preview of some special moments
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