food (198)

Local Food, Local Music


By way of asking around in Waimea (southern part of Kauai, where I’ve come today), I went to the Kaleheo Steaks & Ribs restaurant tonight, had a half order of baby back ribs with Hawaiian cole slaw, two local beers, and listened to local band Waiola do a bunch of covers (a perfect rendition of Percy Sledges’ “When a Man Loves a Woman”), and then a stunning Hawaiian song where the singer hit impossibly high falsetto notes, the occasional yodel, and the maybe 25 customers were cheering.

This is out of chronological sequence with my trip, but I’ll backtrack when I can.

The southern part of Kauai is WAY different than the northern part.

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Another Toot With Louie in San Francisco

No, no, a different kinda toot: see https://www.lloydkahn.com/2013/02/17/a-toot-in-san-francisco/.

Louie and I went over in the morning, went to the Cliff House Bistro at the beach. got a couple of Irish Coffees at the bar, then a great breakfast sitting at an ocean-view table AND the surf was big. There were maybe 50 surfers out, peaks everywhere, and everyone was getting rides. “We’re in ’em,” said Louie as breakfast was served, a salmon fishermen’s expression for being in the midst of a school of salmon.

We went into the unique vintage camera obscura (anyone see “Tim’s Vermeer” documentary?), then to the Academy of Sciences in the park to see the spectacular “Skulls” exhibit, then dinner that night at Camino, the wood-fired restaurant in Oakland. For desert we stopped at Mel’s on Lombard, split an, ahem, chocolate malt, and played Otis Redding on the juke box. We’re so bad.

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Rainy Night in Canada

I pulled into Courtenay,

Was raining and getting dark…

Friday night on my book trip to Vancouver Island.

Went to Serious Coffee for caffeine, wi-fi, town orientation. It’s good to get away from SF/LA/NYC etc. sophisticated areas. Courtenay’s a pretty real town. Real people. Refreshing. Got nice motel room, started looking for music venues…Whistlestop Pub…well, yeah-uh. I lucked out. Big place, multi-levels. sat at bar, great beer, great food…what type music they gonna play, I asked bartender. “Sorta rockish…”

Lead guitar player probably 60 y.o., other guys young. They did covers — Dylan, Credence, some better than others. Then they did the Beatles’ If I Fell In Love, the drummer singing John’s lines, and it was stunning. I don’t know if the band even knew what was happening, but they were channeling this great song from 50 (!) years ago; it was perfect…

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Food Market on Granville Island

Granville Island is a public market across a narrow stretch of water from downtown Vancouver. Lots of tourists, yes, but it’s solid. Everything there seems to be of high quality, not the usual krap you see at street fairs. The food market is the best I’ve ever seen. Here are some photos from last month.That’s Victor Pollan standing by his artistically designed fish display.

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New Octave

I’m easing up on the one-a-day posts on this blog. Change of course in my life.

Finishing Tiny Homes on the Move was sort of a punctuation point in my work. And now, having finished a couple of months of promo (I love being out there, meeting tons of like-minded people, seeing old friends, exploring new territory, but getting there and back is the problem — air travel and too many hours of driving/sitting).

I knew an artisan dope grower years back in Santa Barbara and he said that his plants would be almost dormant for a while and then, in a burst, would grow. Ideas are like that: you’ll think about something on and off, now and then, and suddenly—Eureka!—breakthrough. You’ve put it all together, a new level of, um, consciousness.

Likewise I was in the Gasser photo store in San Francisco once and a hip tattooed bike messenger was telling the counter guy that he’d just had his first kid. “It’s a whole new octave, man.”

Body and Soul Plato had it right: balance intellect/mind with the physical. I’ve gotten too far away from the body of late. Now that I’m back home, I’m swimming a little, running a little, about to cycle and kayak. I have 15 lb Reebok dumbbells at the computer, by the TV, and you can do a lot of light weight training this way. (I’m going to do a short video of office workout equipment soon.)

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A Magic Vancouver Morning

It’s a glittering Sunday morning in Vancouver. I SO lucked out in the hotel department. The 901 Beach Hotel, I found on internet, sounded good, turned out to be a few hundred yards from the water in this section of Vancouver (West End, Yaletown, Gastown) that is almost an island; 90% of the perimeter of this area water-surrounded. Totally kayakable (and SUP-able).

Yesterday afternoon I took a ferry across to Granville Island, a thriving public market, 100s of vendors, great food, fruit, nuts, wine, oysters, crabs, smoked salmon, craft beers, art, music, restaurants,food stalls, outdoor wear, kayaks — crowded, lots of tourists, yes, but vital and fun nonetheless. Going back with grown-up camera today.

PLUS a block away is The Tartine Bakery, with as-good-as-it-gets lattes, muffins, bread, and wi-fi.

I had dinner last night with my friend Vic Marks at his farm a half hour south of V. Turns out he’s a car nut: 1939 Studebaker pickup truck, possibly the most beautiful p/up truck I’ve ever seen. A sleek low black Jaguar. A purple 1930s Cord (810/812),  forchrissake’s — immaculate, I couldn’t believe I was seeing a Cord in person. Will put up pics when I get chance — you car nuts are gonna love these vehicles.

PLUS let’s hear it for Ploom stealth!

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News From The Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania Last Weekend

Air travel bonanza: I got 3 seats, so am sitting by the window, watching the sunrise illuminate the wings of this (United) A320 on my way home from Pittsburgh. A few things about flying:

1. I’ve lightened up and will never check a bag in again. I keep my Osprey roll-on slim enough to avoid cram-job in overhead bin.

2. I pay about $30 for preferred boarding, which lessens the cattle car routine.

3. I really like United these days. They’ve got a lot of things (including website) together; flight crews are friendly and helpful.

I wandered the Fair yesterday and found lots of useful tools and info, talked to a lot of people, many of whom knew (and had utilized) our building books.

Garden Tools A vendor was selling Italian garden tools; I bought a mattock, a machete (way different from Collins machetes), and a pair of fine pruning shears. https://www.growerstools.com/

Wood Stove with Oven I’ve been looking for a wood stove with visible fire window + an oven, and found one, which I’m pretty sure I’ll order: “The Vermont Bun Baker,” a high quality stove built in Australia, and encased in soapstone: https://www.vermontwoodstove.com

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Meeting John Henry in Normalville

Got into Pittsburgh on the redeye yesterday — no sleep — can’t ever sleep on planes, even with 3 seats. Picked up rental car, drove out to Seven Springs mountain resort, where I checked into the hotel/ski lodge for The Mother Earth News Fair. On the way to my room I asked the housekeeper about barns in the area. Well, she was local and she started giving me directions. A maintenance guy came along and joined in — he was local, then 2 more women, and they all started giving me directions at the same time, me scribbling down notes.

How about a place to eat, I asked, in a small town, not at one of the restaurants in the lodge. Vikki, the housekeeper said, well, the locals all go to Seymour’s in Normalville.

Normalville? No way was I NOT going to a place with that kind of name.


After a half hour’s drive and many stops for photos of barns and houses (and the ’50s tableau in the photo that was unexpectedly on the side of a small road), I arrived at See-More’s All-Star Grill in, sure enough, Normalville. Authentic! The real America, in many ways. Not a trace of hipsterism, or cappuccino or kale or wi-fi. Local tractor drivers, farmers, people who work with hands.

I had the breakfast special — “Cream Chicken ‘N’ Biscuits/MashedPotatoes/Corn” and it was delicious. I started talking to the guy next to me at the counter. He was lean, maybe ’50s, pony tail, silver earring, turns out he harvests wild ginseng. Which got us into mushrooms, deer hunting, wild foods. We hit it off and shook hands as I left — strong grip. Told him my name, and he introduced himself: John Henry, he wasn’t kidding, I said steel driving man, huh? and he said yeah…

One thing I’ve learned when traveling to never-before-visited places is: Ask-ask-ask. I used to venture out solo, but now whenever possible, I ask people. Barns, food, coffee, music, new hip city neighborhoods…If people see you’re interested in what’s on their turf, they’ll go out of their way to help. Here, several times, cashiers walked out of their stores with me to point out directions…

Had a great day yesterday with cameras, drizzly rain notwithstanding, the excitement of newly discovered territory…

Lots of interesting stone masonry in area. This is a chiropractor’s office on the road to Seven Springs.

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Halibut Are Biting

This is a 12 pound halibut from fisherman Andrew. The orange stuff at lower right is roe. I wanted to prepare it for eating, but it didn’t appear to be fully formed enough to use. Cooking with roe seems tricky. After filleting, we got six meals from the fish (4 vacuum sealed and in freezer).

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