Bay Area Treats

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So many great places to eat, so little time… As I may have mentioned before, the side benefits of a book tour are time with friends, family and new foods. At the San Francisco book event, one of the women who works there handed me a list of restaurant recommendations, and one of the names stood out: Iyasare. My mom had mentioned it in the past, and already had plans for us to eat there the next day! Sweet.

I have to admit, my expectations of this place, which has been receiving a lot of media love and amazing word-of-mouth recognition, were sky high. What’s not to like about traditional Japanese cooking techniques with creative thinking and the very best, often unique, ingredients? And Iyasare did not disappoint.

We started with their kaki-age tempura appetizer, pictured above.This is a delightful, crispy “cake” of shredded burdock root, yellow and green onions, sweet potatoes, shiitake mushrooms and prawns, fried quickly in tempura batter, and served with a bonito-soy dipping broth. Holy smokes! This is simply one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And the hearty portion would be enough to make a meal on its own. Mind blown.

Then, because, well…who knows when I will have another opportunity to eat here, I went for a large bowl of the day’s special ramen, with a savory duck confit/shoyu broth. Mind blown again. The broth had uncommon depth and subtlety, and the fresh, firm noodles, loads of duck and daikon sprouts, satisfied beyond belief. That’s the bowl below. To top off the meal, my mom and I were able to eat outside in the warm, California sunshine.

It took me almost a day to recover from the gluttony, but I’m already dreaming about going back. Not to mention attempting to recreate some of this food on my own. Question is, how do they hold all the shredded stuff in the kaki-age tempura together to batter and fry it? My guess is it must have something to do with freezing…but who knows? Could be magic. Sure tasted like it.

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Going Coastal

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They say you can’t actually experience jet lag from a north-to-south flight, and certainly not from one of such short duration, but I arrived home from the San Francisco book event late Friday night, completely beat. As I was settling into the couch, it occurred to me that Saturday, the very next day, was a razor-clam opener out on the coast. And probably the last opportunity for an afternoon dig on the beach we like. Who has time to rest? I jumped up, scrambled around and made a huge pile of clam guns, shovels, warm clothes, lanterns, snacks, etc; in the morning, the kids and I hit the road. Somehow, we pulled it all together and made it to the coast in time for the tide. That’s the kids, along with Laine, Dan, and Mia Sweeney, feeling the stoke.

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With an onshore breeze pushing water up the beach, digging was tough. Right on the low tide, the razors started showing, but they were all right in the wash, which made digging a challenge. We finally settled on two teams of three…one would spot and mark the clam, the other would deploy the gun, and the third person would watch for incoming waves. We spent a lot of time running up the beach to stay (sort of) dry. But it was also a ton of fun. That’s Laine, Skyla and Weston showing off their hard-won trophies.

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Eventually, we filled our bags, and with the breeze picking up and the marine layer thickening to a wet mist, we headed back to the truck. Tiring, yes. But the beach, fresh air, kids and good friends are a sure cure for whatever imaginary jet lag I was feeling, and definitely worth the effort. Clam on!


Bay Area Fun

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Before returning home from the San Francisco reading, I got to pal around the East Bay with my mom, who, having just retired, had time to hang out and have fun. We ate lunch at a mind-blowingly good Japanese place in Berkeley (more on that later), then ran into one of her fellow recent retirees in Oakland. That’s Mom and her friend above, comparing notes on 401(k) payouts, social security, and upcoming shuffleboard tournaments.

Huge thanks to the terrific staff at Patagonia San Francisco for a great event. We had a full house, great food from Patagonia Provisions, beer, and a very enthusiastic crowd. I can’t even begin to express how uplifting these events are, and how much I’m enjoying them. And we still have more to come–if you’re near Seattle, Vancouver BC, or New York City, come on out and feel the love. Dates and times are on the website HERE.


San Francisco Event

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Super excited for the book event this Wednesday at Patagonia San Francisco. If you happen to be in the Bay Area (or if you know someone who is, please share this) come on down to the Patagonia store, 770 North Point at 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 16th. We’ll talk about foraging, fishing, wild food, getting kids outside and whatever else anyone’s interested in, then read a few excerpts from Closer to the Ground. Doors open at 6:00pm.

I think we’ll have a great time. Looking forward to meeting everyone in person. Hope you are all well.


Oregon Fun

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One of the best parts of a book tour is visiting with good friends. The Portland book event was fantastic–full house, great food and beer, and what I thought was a pretty challenging (at least for me) conversation with my buddy John Larison. Huge thanks to Leila and crew at Patagonia Portland, and all the friends and readers who showed up on a stormy night. Portlanders are not deterred by a little wind and rain!

The pictures here, as you can see, are not from the reading. In all the chaos, I somehow forgot to even snap a single shot. Perhaps these are more interesting, anyway. I spent the day of the reading on a North Coast river with Kate, Crump and Annie hanging out in the pouring rain, watching the river rise, and hooking a fish or two along the way. Then I had to white knuckle it through 50 kt winds, falling trees and Portland traffic to make it to the event on time.

Afterward, our crew shambled around Portland, eventually finding awesome late-night drinks and Vietnamese food at Luc Lac. Lots of fish and book talk, and then Larison and I stayed up most of the night with, yes, more fish and book talk. But when I closed my eyes to sleep, the picture below is what floated through my head. Huge thanks to JL and KT for making the time and being there. Love you guys.

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