Monday, October 4, 2010

Bear with me, or not . . .

Fork Fest Review has been around for a few years, and although available to only a select audience, it's about to go viral (oh boy!) as they say. Maybe not too viral––maybe not spreading across the globe viral, but maybe more like got you for a day or a minute––that kinda viral . . . but at the moment, I am the only one with a viral case of "can't figure out the formatting thing––and I may never, but please, check out a few of our back issues and keep on cookin' or something like that.

The Uma Issue

Fork Fest Review
The Uma Issue

March 2010

Can you believe it, we of the fork, of the fest, have met for dinner, dialogue and drinks, twenty times and finally, we feature, as the key element (as long as I’ve got the pen in my hand) the darling, Uma.

I was actually thinking of boycotting this last event if Karl and Karin had carted her off to Grandma’s… but then I thought of Sam’s short ribs and well, decided that I could somehow suffer through an evening without Uma, if I had too.

Starting off the evening, this last 27th of February 2010, we had Uma at the door, trailed by Theo, the barking (who had his moment in the Forkfest limelight, I think) machine and of course, Dad, purveyor of space and spirits.

As soon as I’d said hello to Uma, I headed for the fridge and traded out my six-pack of something, for one of Karl’s Hairy Eyeball Ales, which gave me the needed energy and ability to take on the Uma vocabulary––but what I really needed was just a dictionary and a tune-up on my hearing-aid, as the girl knows how to spin a sentence or two.

I might have fared better if I’d gassed up on the evening’s signature drink, concocted by the spirit masters (no, I am the spirit master. No, I am the spirit master, no…) Saana and Matt––it was something like an eye of the tiger, or tiger’s blood or tiger essence… undoubtedly tasty, no doubt illegal and subject to seizure by customs, but I am sure we got a few down the hatch.

I almost forgot––this is supposed to be about the food, sort of.

For starters, as Uma ambled about with her new piggy flashlight, we nibbled on Hideo and Carmine’s tasty homemade pickled vegetables.

These delectables reminded me of my dear (step) Grandma Sakai, who spent hours during Thanksgiving and all those other ho-hum turkey days, filling us up, not with turkey, but with wonderful Japanese dishes. I’m sure that had she thought of turkey and its sleep-inducing qualities, she might have thought to wrangle in our running about and screaming by just stuffing us with the bird. But no.

As for Uma, she made it through the starters with hardly a peep, preferring instead to occupy herself with dark corners and her new light source––boogie men beware, Uma knows you’re
not there.

Bo was there though, along with Monique and Read––all new guests to the table and if they make it back a second time, they’ll of course receive the ultimate FF honor, the searing hot cross-forked branding (Skull & Bones, bah!) across the tummy.

Somewhere between the prep and the dining table we had some very yummy, sort of “DIY” steamed dumplings, filled with pork and shrimp and dipped, (unless you were me and food in hand meant it must proceed directly to maw, hold the secret sauce) in Sandra’s special dipping sauce… I tried to get the list of ingredients but met only a cold stare from Ms. Huang… “You want the secret to my sauce, never. Go ask Sam for his short rib recipe.”

With the drinks poured, the entrées prepped and the table set, the guests, old and new, gathered round, with dog under foot and Uma at the undeniable head of the table––wherever she sat, it was the head of the table. Got it––we began.

Oh yes, gung hay fat choy, or dig in, as I like to say.

Since this was a pot-luck, all the dishes appeared at once, passing from hand to hand, plate to palate and under the table, and except for my favorite––Sam’s delicious short (right, the dog never got the rib that would be mine?) ribs—I can barely remember the parade of delights that came my way.

I do remember the white rice though. However humble, the white rice must be taken seriously as it is the true backbone of any kinda sorta asian-themed dinner, that just happens to have short ribs in attendance. I’m sure they were invented in China and not really over some Texas spit. Long live white rice!

There was also Carole’s white-cut chicken with ginger and scallion sauce and sticky (formerly, white) rice from Sandra (of the secret sauce society) and a sublime (I was gonna call it, daffy) roast duck on a bed of watercress, from our ever dazzling hostess…

…Karin, I remember the duck, but I can’t find that bed of watercress in my memory. Too much Hairy Eyeball Ale, perhaps––or it just reminds me of my job and having to say to a guest for the millionth time when s/he exclaims, “ooooh, what’s that?” as their big fingers smash into the delicate hors d’oeuvre, and my reluctant tongue wraps around the flavor-sighed syllables, once again––“it’s roasted duck breast on a bed of watercress.”

Did I forget to mention that Uma was right there, for all of this. I thought she’d fade off to sleepy town, but no, the girl held her own at the table, amongst adults, like me. Ha.

Every damn American worth his multi-cultural something or other knows how to say gung hay fat choy, and he also knows what bok choy is, which we had a bit of, and the ubiquitous, shitake mushroom, but what about this “kohlrabi” which came around, dancing with the shitake mushrooms. We had some, but I will, no doubt, never learn to fully understand or appreciate kohlrabi.

Dessert was a delicious variety of fresh apple pears and pomelos, from the delightful Bo, and  mouth-watering ice cream mochi from Monique, along with Carole’s “gung hay fat choy” cookies and of course, red velvet fortune cookies, stuffed with things I couldn’t make up.

Well, that was #20, and it was a delight to spend it with Uma and, okay, the rest of you.


As a bonus feature, here is my review of BAR BAMBINO, here in San Francisco. Where do I start?

How about $110 plus change for this!  In its defense, I actually liked the food, in spite of its being somewhat late and cold.

We had a reservation for five p.m. and maybe that was the wrong way to dine at Bar Bambino––maybe they thought we were not serious, like the others who seemed to converge on the place, just as we were leaving, two hours later.

Perhaps the slow service was in answer to our perceived rush, as though we had to be somewhere soon, but Bar Bambino was going to show us how service and the dining experience is done, slow and with great relish, as you wait and wait for the next, not to mention, the first course, to arrive. Maybe they function better in a mad rush, but being that we were almost the sole diners, at that point––maybe they just forgot we were out there, watching the passing traffic on 16th Street.

To start, sort of, we had the cured meats platter, which took a while, but I can understand, with all those delicate, tasty, and finely sliced bits of meats. Tasty, gotta say. The fennel salad was already cold, as a salad should be, so I can’t blame it for being late and while I am not a fennel fan, it was tasty. I would have loved some bread to go with the meats, but there wasn’t any. Did I miss it on the menu?

Carole had the “Papardelle Sugo di Coniglio,” lovely wide pasta pieces, sauced with braised rabbit. I could have eaten the entire thing in two or three “Bob bites” but around the same time––a long time––as her rabbit found the table, my “Lamb” also arrived.

You could almost guess at the amount of time both dishes probably sat on the prep table once they’d been hot and plated by the chef––long enough for whomever served them to go out and have a cigarette, come back in, memorize the night’s specials and then notice the two dishes, still hanging onto a bit of heat, deep in the meat.

If you’ve ever seen a movie and there’s a kitchen involved, there’s usually a rush to get it out the door, fresh and hot. Usually.

And I don’t mind if my dinner shows up hot, smelling of all its ingredients, its juices. I can sit there a few minutes and gobble more bread while my lamb cools down, and I warm up to it.

Again though, in spite of my lamb shanks being not too fresh and hot out of the kitchen, I did enjoy them, right down to my greasy fingers and choice slivers of meat, tethered in the bones.Carole liked her rabbit pasta also, even though it looked to have attained that flat cold state, that pasta, sitting naked in the open air, gets after, oh, long enough to smoke a cigarette and memorize the daily specials.

We also had two sides, to round things out––the potatoes and the asparagus. Both of them seemed not to be tarnished by time. The potato dish came with six small, tasty orbs, butter and spiced just right and my favorite part was that there was an even amount, so we didn’t have to play, “No, you can have it.” I didn’t count the asparagus, but it was delicious, sprinkled with cheese.

“Affogato” is either my favorite dessert, or something which I can never remember. It was a strong espresso with just a dollop of vanilla ice cream and happily came in at a sweetly low $4.00 on my “You paid that much for that?” scale. I’d gladly get it again, if I don’t forget.

So yeah, I kinda felt like I was there in a dream––their dream––and they really had no recollection of serving us, even though we got the bill.

Le Fork Du Fest

Fork Fest Review
Le Fork du Fest

December 2007

Chez Sandra

Bonjour madame et monsieur, or as they say it in Montreal, “bonjour, what can I get you?”
But enough about the all the wonderful food that we ate in Montreal and let’s move on to the real meat of this issue––our last “entourage sur la table.”

Will the lovely and talented Mademoiselle Huang, please, passe en avant and get up here and bring that there fella, monsieur “play it again” Sam, with you. Merci.

Sandra et compagnie, in the true French spirit of chance de pot, had everyone bring a little something and she made up the main course of a lovely “vegetarian stew, with sweet potatoes and poblano chilies and black beans and orange juice and lots of aromatics, with polenta triangles, garnished with avocados.”

But of course, zat was not all. No, not at all.

Mssrs Yoshida and Giordano, provided the lovely green salad of various colorful and tasty ingredients, including jicama, cayenne pepper, and l’orange.

Carole (Ca-rhollllllll) brought the frittata—the never-ending frittata that I am still eating today—it’s the new rice dish here at Rue 10 (and, okay, she’s getting real good at it)

Karin brought the lovely, ever-changing Uma, and her lovely eyes, but a chocolate cake, courtesy of Citizen Cake.

Karl’s company was sadly missed as he was somewhere out of highway five, counting lane reflectors all the way to Los Angeles.

And so the night went, Sandra, Sam, Carole, Karin, Carmine, Hideo, Bob and the lovely Uma, giddy, gurgling and holding everyone’s attention, late into the night––until about, what, 10 p.m., when, for better or for worse, the revelry was put to an end; the desserts were boxed, the booze, corked, and the laughter squelched and the little Uma, tucked into her car seat for the ride back across the bridge.

And now, weeks have passed and passed and I am harassed and harassed, “Finish Fork Fest, before Christmas.”

Future Feasts

Where has all the food fun gone? Who will step up to the plate, approach the stove, the counter, the recipe books and proclaim themselves the next dinner hosts?

Meanwhile, as the tension mounts within the ranks of willing chefs, each chomping at the chance to grace the pages of Fork Fest (“James Beard? We don’t need no stinkin’ James Beard”) I shower you with bits of this and that…here in Carole’s Kitchen as well as Karin’s, we’ve all had one or two boxes of a variety of veggies from Mariquita farms:

And while they don’t do home delivery, you do get to mingle with other fresh veggie fanatics and try things like purple carrots, which taste just about like orange carrots, but yeah, they’re purple.

Check out their website for the next time and place of the mystery box delivery. See you there.

Tasty Bubbles

After having discovered Veggie Wash, back on our 2003 trip to Viet Nam, it has taken me this long to finally buy a bottle at Trader Joe’s. You’d think, with the quality and let’s not forget, the handling that fruits and veggies get here in the local Asian markets, that we would have bought up cases of this stuff by now, but no. And while I am on the subject of soaps…

A few weeks ago, I was apartment sitting and my friend had left a pan of rice on the stove, which I ignored for a few days and no doubt, he had too. By the time I lifted the lid, the rice in the pan, was covered in a yummy gray dust of mold. I tossed the mold, washed the pan and for extra cleanliness, I decided to add a few dollops of detergent and let it sit for a while.

Days later, I decide that I’ll cook up some of the bacon in the fridge. I plop it into the pan, heat it up and I get this creamy white froth and I’m thinking, maybe the bacon is no good—it smells clean though, lemony almost—and then I figure it out. Ha!
So I clean out the pan, cook and burn some bacon, which only makes it better, but I’ve got a scorched pan, which I again, decide needs some soaking agent. I decide this time to use only water and days later, I grab the pan, and yes, water, water, everywhere. Duh.

For further culinary reading—since you just can’t get enough of Fork Fest—try Bill Buford’s article in the December 3, 2007 issue (The one with Santa in the helicopter) of the New Yorker. He mentions, at length, and for this reason, I won’t bother—details of the chef and restaurant we both enjoyed, Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon. All I can say is make your reservations now and smile at every little piggy you ever come in contact with.

Bon appétit.

The People's Little Red Dinner Review

Text Box: * I never have to knock, but just this once.
Fork Fest Review
The People’s Little Red Dinner Review

December 2006

The Chairman, courtesy of Hideo
Text Box:

Mao-thing Off

Greetings Fork Festers. Mostly elation surrounds me at the knowledge of another warm gathering of the peoples from all walks, sitting side-by-side around a large utilitarian table
of suitable plywood.     

All of you congregating amongst the commonality of food served in a communal and dare I say (I am Mao, so I say whatever) almost communist or socialist manner.

I am honored to be amongst you in the home of soldier to the people, Carole –– but I hear that her roommate supposedly did not help with anything more than washing dishes. Although I find washing dishes to be number one form of therapy (we have a surplus of Palmolive here) and it took him a great deal of time, the “C-Man” (that is me again, as in Chairman Mao, the Man) says you will find this Bob character in my new dishwashing gulag, scrubbing the people’s pots until his fingernails fall off.

Before my ever humble, serving, busy mind forgets, and as a lesson, I have a Knock-Knock* joke for you and remember, there is no power without…something. Anyway.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Dissent who?
Dissent what the people want — off to the trench with you. Merry Christmas you get a free bullet.

Funny, yes or no and I advise thinking slowly for articulation of the answer, preferably of three letters and remember, the chairman never says anything offensive. Ever.

Gathering of Comrades

There is much cheer and learning to be had from the gathering of peoples of many colors — mostly somber hues of green and grey and then young and old and not so seemingly old.
(The chairman will later wish to receive counsel from such a fine beret-wearing revolutionary
as Carmine.)
All in attendance to preserve the people through intoxication of several wines, red mostly as
it is the blood of the people, harvested by the hands of the people, but labeled with of course bourgeois graphics and French linguistic improvisations. Chinese wine will soon wine the people of the world: Beijing Beaujolais, Communist Cabernet, Xian Zhao Zinfandel, The People’s Pinot, Revolutionary Riesling and my personal favorite, Mao Merlot. Drink up, then go enjoy some winter farm labor.

Tiring it is, to say the least — names are so bourgeois — why do you think I call everyone comrade and dress them in the same colors? Better that I never make mistakes and appear to
know nothing or no one. I know everyone and they are all my comrades and have made guestly appearances on my gracious behalf in honor of President (I allow it) Carole. There was seated before my bust (I love the scarf) most notable treasures to the people’s wisdom in the form of teachers, Sharon and Len.

            Then, questionable character in light of his land ownership and cultivation of the decadent
olive goes to Karl and his companion, Karin. Both of whom I allow to frolic in a semi-state of capitalist froth. Onward.

Speaking of questionable, why do they make me feel like dancing and wearing loud colors with the hope of aging gracefully? This Carmine and Hideo.

Sandra and Sam, oh humble in your station in spite of the intolerant utterance of the idea and state of Texas. The world does not like Texas as Texas is big-headed with world dominators of very questionable character. Lucky for Sam that Sandra is kind-hearted and medicinal in nature. Good for all the people.

Alec and Elisa, just short of an olive farm. Questionable in nature, funny, traveled and too
well-spoken. Spies perhaps. There will be a knock on your door and it won’t be a joke, but lovely examples of the kind. Can I interest you in some polonium-210?

Carole and Bob. The workers and my gracious hosts, but I think Bob will soon be groveling for mushrooms in a former minefield for me. Carole (please momentarily picture Carole in a lovely green suit) will adorn my side at state functions and recite from my favorite little red book while communicating graphically with the people.

            And we the people love you all, in your support of Fork Fest.

Feed the Revolution

Humbly over watched by myself in effigy, the menu went as follows: gougères — a lovely cheese studded cream-puff pastry, split and stuffed (like some of my former aides) with lovely bacon,
a sprig of arugula, and pickled onions. Bacon is for the people, of the people. Bacon makes everything better, but there were not enough of these delectables to sustain a movement. I felt sadly deprived at their lacking in quantity.

When Is Pig, Pork?

As the great and wonderful capitalist dupe, Homer Simpson, would say, “Mmmmm, pork.”
But Homer’s gluttonous appetite would again not find large chunks of flesh to gnash and gnaw upon, but rather a richly detailed stew of many flavors, where the pork dazzles the palate, but doesn’t protrude the paunch. I could not feed a revolution with this delicate and savory stew,
but I could seduce my enemies into the kitchen.

Did I almost forget the roasted fingerling potatoes, picked from the closest thing these Americans have to a farm labor camp — the farmers market.

Cheese for Everyone, Sort of

Late at night while the people sleep, aside from the ones who must churn out, twenty-four
hours a day, useless plastic gizmos for your sucker American consumer, I like to watch my hero Humphrey Bogart (any man named Humphrey is a hero in my eyes) in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This is maybe the definitive film on man’s greed, but mostly, I just get a big Mao-sized belly chuckle when the peasant bandito says, “We don’t need no stinkin’‚ badges.” I like to think of this statement as my own and I have adopted it into several of my speeches before the people, but since you don’t speak Chinese, you’d never know.

My favorite is, “We don’t need no stinkin’‚ human rights.” And for a chuckle and a bit of
old-fashioned irony, I like to say to my very own amassed diners and leaders of the great nation of mine, “We don’t need no stinkin’‚ cheese.” And everyone laughs and then looks at me and around the table because there is no cheese in China unless you count that curdled muck that
the Shepherds of Mongolia (wait, did I overrun Mongolia or what?) guzzle in their yurts. Pew!

Cheese is tricky, like politics; some of it stinks but tastes great. Some of it is subtle in the beginning, but gets you in the end and some of it is just ho-hum boring without those tasty little bits of bread. Cheese is also very (except for American Cheese) aloof. I like to think of it in a more humble fashion and would prefer the people to call it “bread spread.” Spread it, eat it, but don’t call it cheese. Bread spreads were obtained from cows, sheep and goats and brought by Sandra and Sam who did not milk the cows or sheep or goats as good people of the republic might,
but rather purchased with greedy American dollars in air-conditioned markets the delicious, uh, cheeses. Plus Carole purchased some more cheese.

Mimoletta - the hard orange one.
Pierce Point (Cowgirl Creamery) – the round, soft one
Robiola di Bosina – sheep and cow’s milk – the square, gooey one – mmmmm!
A French goat cheese (raw goat milk) – the smaller round one


Pear galette and vanilla ice cream and brownie cookies.

Thanks to comrade Sandra for bringing her super duper coffee machine. Love the insulated pot.

Year End Wishes

Okay, your ever lovin’ Chairman Mao has to get back to keeping tabs on the people, and meanwhile one of you must come forward with the next dinner date. I’ll be waiting and meanwhile, have a happy and safe new year (even if it isn’t really new years if you know what I mean).

Your banner ad here. Ask me how.

Fork Fest Review
Your banner ad here. Ask me how.

October 2006


Just when you had completely forgotten about our last food fest at Sandra’s in late July…. okay, I have, but only because I was not there, but instead, fending off the bears and rodents––all of them after my meager supply of backpacker delights––while you guys struggled (I’m sure) with your porterhouse steaks and so on.

This just in, from Ms. Huang:

         • manchego cheese, membrillo (quince paste), baguette, and olives
         `  •          a delicious little cheese from the SF Ferry Building Farmer's Market, made by a woman
                        who also knits, and brought by Karin and Karl — the name of the cheese escapes me
         • mustard-glazed Nuremberg bratwurst (from Dittmer’s Gourmet Meats and Wurst Haus
            in Mountain View,, grilled, served with sauerkraut relish
         • served with sherry, wine, and Carole’s delicious homemade ginger ale

         • watercress, mandarin orange, and jicama with a curry and lemon juice vinaigrette

Main dishes:    
         • porterhouse steaks from Dittmer’s, grilled and served with salsa verde
         • grilled poblano and red peppers, mushrooms, summer squash, Japanese eggplant, garlic,
            new onions, and herbed potatoes
         • couscous salad with apricot, currants, sultanas, pickled red onion, and toasted pine nuts
         • more wine

Grill Meister:  Sam Wilson

         • chocolate cake with chocolate icing and raspberry filling
            (from Citron, courtesy of the neighbors, Keith and Marites)
         • vanilla ice cream with strawberries...I can’t remember, were there blueberries? Help!
         • mint tea

Salsa Verde

(thank you, Williams Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook)

         2-1/2 cups packed fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley leaves
         1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
         2 cloves garlic, minced
         2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
         1 tablespoon dijon mustard
         1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
         2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Pope Creek Ranch, of course)
         In a food processor, combine the parsley, mint, garlic, capers, mustard, and vinegar. Pulse until well combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue to process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 4 hours for the flavors to marry. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before serving, but it is best served within 3–4 hours while it is still a bright, vibrant green.

On the Trail: Food Tips from Hiker Bob

         Angel hair pasta, not spaghetti. Wish I’d have thought of that while shopping in TJ’s, but no. I had to lug around a bunch of heavy spaghetti, but I did have these nifty tubes of pesto that
I got from Mollie Stone. Very nice.
         Okay, since Carole didn’t go backpacking with me, but did make some great ginger ale,
I have to say farewell, adieu, so long and see you on the trail or at the next Fork Fest.


Noir on This for a While

Fork Fest Review
Noir on This for a While

May 2006

“The facts lady, just the facts.” The detective opened his worn notebook and produced a pencil, pocked with teeth marks.

“Tell me what you know.”

The lady licked her lips in anticipation as she nestled into her tired La-Z-Boy rocker. It squeaked with her every movement

“Don’t you want to know the menu first?” she asked. “No,” barked the detective, “We’ll get to that later or in the course of events, if you know what I mean.”

“Oh I do,” said the lady. “You mean to say that dessert never comes before the dinner?” The detective gave her a look as though she might not be from these parts. “That’s right lady––at least where we come from.”

The lady reached down to the side of the La-Z-Boy and the detectives eyes followed. “Hands where I can them.” She looked over and smiled at him. “I just want to recline.” And with that she nudged the lever and the mighty La-Z-Boy clunked into full horizontal.

“Now where was I,” she asked?

“You’re gonna tell me everything.”

“Yes, well, they called themselves Fork Fest and there were all types of them.”

“What kind of fork?”

“I don’t know. Four-tined, probably. Does it matter?”

“Could be very important,” said the detective. “So who was in this Fork Fest and what did they do exactly.”

The lady stared at the ceiling, feeling now both hungry and as if she might fall off to sleep.

“I don’t know. They talked about cheese and wine.” The detective put pencil to paper.

“Cheese, what kind of cheese?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I can barely remember the cheeses in my own kitchen.”

The detective scribbled madly then flipped the page, his eyes suddenly attracted to young woman, reclining in front of him.

“So who were these people, these Fork Festers?”

“Well, let me see,” she said.”There was Carmine, Karl, Carole, Karin, Corrinne, Hideo and Sandra.”

“And that was everyone?”

“I think there was a Bob… a Bob super naked or something, but he was off in the snow.”

The detective’s lead crushed under the sudden weight of this clue. “Bob super naked.” He repeated before chomping down on his pencil. “I like it.”

“You like it?” she asked. The detective flustered at the thought. “No, I mean, it’s an intriguing clue.”

“Clue to what, “she asked.

“Nothing,” said the detective. “Just a naked guy I’d like to get my hands on.”

“There were Artists,” she suddenly offered, as though that might get her off the hook. “Something about paintball paradise and cultural nomads and….” Suddenly she froze. “I saw the postcard. They were on it.”

“Who?” pressed the detective.

“Carmine, Hideo. They were on the postcard and they looked mean––they looked like they might throw something, anything. We even had the dinner at their place.

“What did they look like they might throw?”

“Her eyes welled with tears as the realization hit her. “Pottery or parties or both. I just can’t remember.”

The detective chewed on his pencil. “Damn those artists.”

They called him the “salad master.”

“Who?” grunted the detective like he’d been punched in the gut.

“Hideo, Hideo. First he said that Carole made really good salads and then she said he did and everyone agreed that he was the salad master…the salad master.”

“So what was in this salad by this salad master?”

“Romaine, red leaf lettuce, water cress, mint, tarragon,” she said. “And a dressing of lemon juice, honey, olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and.…” Her voice trailed off.

“Pepper?” asked the detective. “Was it pepper?

“Yes, yes, that was it. Pepper.” She gathered her thoughts and continued. “The starter was baby artichokes with fennel and parmesan.

“Delicious,” murmured the detective. “Go on.”

“There was a pasta with anchovies, black olives, parsley and lemon juice, with lots of garlic.”

“What were they drinking?” asked the detective, his brow shiny with sweat.

“Wine, of course and I think that Carmine made one or two negronis with kumquats and then Corrinne, she brought some Prosecco.

“Sweet subversive swine.” He jotted more notes and without being asked, she offered.

“That’s Corrinne, with two r’s and two n’s

The detective worked his eraser and gritted his teeth, wiped his brow. “Go on, what else?”

“They talked about Patagonia, I think.”


“Yeah, Sandra, she’s one of the new Festers. Well, she just came back from there. Seems she was out roaming in the mountains.”

The pieces were beginning to fall into place. The detective didn’t know quite where they were falling or why, but they were falling or at least he was thinking they were doing something. Mostly though, he was just hungry.

The detective was delirious. “Sweet,” he muttered.

Nervous, the young woman began again, in detail. “Yes, they had a dessert liqueur called VOV and she went on rambling as though she were reading from the label. “Proprietary famed brand of Zabaglione, a Marsala wine, egg, spice, and sweetening custard-like mixture bottled as a liqueur. Made in Italy since 1840.”

The detective licked his parched lips.

“Did they drink this Vov stuff straight?”

She looked at the detective. He looked at her.

“Well, I think Karl did, but the other two….”

“So they mixed it?

“Yeah, they mixed it in with coffee in these cups that Hideo made.”

She too was feeling delirious. “I don’t know––something about a main course of fish and potatoes. The fish was sole and the potatoes were fancy, called, new potatoes. It was cooked with leeks, in wine. With olive oil, nutmeg and oregano.

The detective chewed his #2 straight through to the lead. “How did they finish it off?”

She turned and looked at him. He looked at her. They just kept looking at each other. Hmmmm.

“Do you even want to know my name,” she asked. “I’m Elisa, and I was there. I saw it with my own eyes.”

She raised her head from the La-Z-Boy and propped herself on one elbow, staring into the hungry detective’s eyes.

“It was ricotta and orange peel and wheat berries in a pie crust served with strawberries soaked in red wine I think.”

“Sounds delicious. What did they call it?” She almost winced in fear, afraid of her answer. “Pizza Grana.”

And for a moment they both looked at one another, confused. Then she leaned back, her eyes focusing on the ceiling.

The detective stared at her, pondering the clues. “The gay mafia.”

Elisa sat up with a startled, “Oh no.”

“Oh yes,” mocked the detective in his husky assured manner.

“This Fork Fest thing is just a front. These guys are just a bunch of food thugs.”

“Oh my, no,” said Elisa as she let a loose calf rub up against the unsuspecting detective’s leg.

“It all fits. Forks, festivals, Italian foods, drinks I can’t pronounce.”

The detective noticed her calf, rubbing against his ankle like a cat, purring for affection.

“When’s the next one of these Fork Fest things and can you bring me?”

Elisa smiled at the thought. Her and mister rough-tough-detective at the table.

“The 9th of June,” she purred, “At Carole’s.” 

It’s not just Dinner—it’s Fork Fest

Fork Fest Review
It’s not just Dinner—it’s Fork Fest

July 2005 

At Ease, Burger Boy

On the 9th of July forkers and festers were  treated to another barefoot extravaganza at Corrinne’s spotless abode, located within the concrete corridors of XXX Folsom. On hand were the usual and then some––the then some being a few new members by the names of Sandra “my yard’s not too big” Huang and John “the Boss” Bosque.

As most members know, getting into the Fork Fest Fold is no easy feat. Both Sandra and John were grilled heavily (on an even heat with special hickory stick coals) as to the ins and outs of food, food lore, gossip, gossipers and something else, like… Name Your Favorite Olive Oil.

Poor Mr. Bosque—put under the hot lights by none other than our whip wielding hostess, kept blubbering, “Bertoli, Bertoli, I don’t know anything, I swear.”

“Pope Creek, Mr. Bosque,  Say it.” “Pope Creek” (big sob)

“How many trees on Pope Creek Ranch?…What’s in the blue building?… How many phone lines run across the property, Mr.Bosque. How many?”

The questions went on long into the night, each followed by a mellow sip of red wine and extra admonishment for his lack of dish washing skills,

“You call that scrubbed, mister?”

Dr. Huang proved to be a totally different creature, brushing off our queries with a flick of her lustrous (go ahead, think lustrous) hair and a smile that left our interrogators baffled. Skilled infiltrator?

“How many dinner clubs do you belong to?…What is the average attendance at a Fork Fest affair?…Who hosted the last party?” Huang spit the answers out like a bad merlot, forcing us to play her hand—she was in—but will she host?

Talk about the Table

Toast to Lance with #7 . . . Lalala . . . I propose a whole line of unwholesome, or at least controversial products all labeled Angwin: Angwin Devil’s Brew Beer, Angwin’s Eighth Day Condom, Elmer Fudd’s stupid book of fishing, “Angwin for Bass.”

I’m not writing anymore songs about doggies getting clipped if no one wants to sing them. So there. What else? (well, I am the only one sitting here, so….)

Portion Control, No Way

I don’t know about you, but just saying roast pork gets my juices flowing. Go ahead, try me out on this and watch me drool. Corrinne’s  pork was no exception and I piled it high until I was about to explode. Delicious. Enough and then, not enough said.

But before the roasted pork took me over the edge there was the heirloom appetizers, or was that considered the salad dish? Heirloom tomatoes layered with mozzarella and pistachios. And before that came the tasty acorn squash soup.

Plated up there with the pork was the polenta. The polenta was there, next to the pork—what can
I say—pork… slow roasted, spiced just right, only enhances the polenta or the potatoes but it never lets them shine. The polenta had to dance in the pork’s shadow.

Then there was the chocolate cake with Crème Fraîche, or as we say it round these parts, Crème Fresh. Oh la la. To chocolate cake and dollops of whipped creamy stuff. Yes sir.

By this time I do not remember the Fruit Galette (more French fluff) so if Carole a.k.a., “Caole” (very French, oui?) wants to elaborate then…merci.

Mint to Say

Thanks to Carmine and Hideo for the mint tea idea. Bought a bowl (with ridges) bought a pestle (wood) got some mint and Carole’s muscle. She grinds it, brews it, serves it up, hot, sweet and subtle and… the tea’s not bad either.

Other Stuff

Let’s see… if you’re up for it, check out Bob’s stories on and

Next dinner: 10th Avenue, probably August 20th.