Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't Gnocch It 'Til You've Tried It: Firenze By Night

The North Beach section of San Francisco has some of the most famous Italian restaurants in the country. Words like “authentic”, “old school” and “home style” come to mind when you talk about North Beach Italian cuisine. Just walking through North Beach is a wonderful experience—it’s like NY/SF meets Italy. With Italian bakeries, delis, pizzerias and trattorias on every block, the sights, smells and sounds of this quaint little neighborhood are a delight for all the senses.

The other night, we visited North Beach to dine at Firenze by Night, one of the most renowned Italian eateries in all of San Francisco. Known for their award-winning gnocchi, Firenze by Night makes you feel at ease the minute you walk in.


The layout of the restaurant consists of two small rooms—one features a bar seating roughly eight people and the other is a modest dining room. The d├ęcor is home style Italian; all of the servers are from the Big Boot; and the dishes fly out of the tiny kitchen fresh and fast.
Since this was our first visit to Firenze by Night, we decided that we just had to sample their famous gnocchi. For those who don’t know, gnocchi is basically a small potato dumpling. It has the texture and flavor of a piece of very al dente pasta. One of the best things about a good gnocchi is that it absorbs any sauce accompanying it.

The gnocchi at Firenze by Night has won first place in the “Best of North Beach” contest for two consecutive years. The legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen described it as “So Italian, you need a passport.” It’s perfectly formed by hand, skillfully prepared with a wide range of amazing tomato and cream sauces, and simply served. Its true beauty is in its simplicity. In a culinary world where chefs are always showing off their cooking “skills” by serving complex dishes containing 50 ingredients, the gnocchi at Firenze by Night features a no-nonsense approach. Why mess with the ingredients when the flavors do a stellar job all by themselves?

So, we had the Gnocchi Firenze, their signature dish, and we weren’t disappointed to say the least. Described as “potato dumplings in a light tomato sauce”, this is the best gnocchi I’ve ever had. The sauce complemented the gnocchi and didn’t over power it. The gnocchi itself had the perfect texture and topped with parmesan cheese, it was comforting and satisfying.

We also had the Paperdelle Toscana (large noodles in rabbit sauce); Cappellini Pomodoro e Basilico (angel hair in tomato basil sauce); and Gamberoni Pesacatore (jumbo prawns with calamari in a white wine sauce). Other dishes we saw coming out of the busy kitchen included Firenze’s Maiale alla Maremmama (pork scaloppini with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and a white wine sauce); and Quaglie al Barolo (quail in a Barolo wine sauce).

To kick off meal with a bang, we had two amazing appetizers—a Carpaccio (paper-thin slices of raw fillet of beef) and the Antipasti Della Casa (consisting of all kinds of cold cuts, cheeses, pickled vegetables, homemade buffalo mozzarella and more).

Firenze by Night, 1429 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 (415) 392-8585 (Open M-F for dinner only)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Glad to See You Again!


Every once in awhile a guy by the name of Gladiator Joe enters my dreams. He's from the days of the Romans and he's a really good, yet highly misunderstood person. We talk about his concerns, my dreams, his beliefs and my life and it's always a very educational experience for both of us.

He tells me what it was like to be a gladiator back in his time and I relate to him how it is to live in 2008. I try to answer his questions about cars (I call them "motorized chariots") TV ("a box that glows and shows pictures") and the Internet ("a smaller box full of fairly useless information") and he gives me his opinions about fighting lions, chasing wenches, drinking wine and killing Christians. It's always a very wide ranging and highly entertaining conversation every time he does a cameo in my dreams.

Last night he showed up while I was playing tennis with Arthur Ashe. We took a break so I could talk to him.
"Hey, Joe, what do you know?"

"I'm fine, Edmund. How are you today?"

"Thanks for showing up when you did, Joe. Ashe was kicking my butt."

"What is this game you're playing?" Joe inquired.

"It's called tennis."

"Does the loser die in this contest of skill?"

"Uh, no--it's not that kind of game."
"Oh."

"What's wrong, Joe? I see you're limping. Did you try to mix it up with another Gaul again?"

"No, I hurt my foot running from a tiger in the pit."

"That'll do it every time."

"Do you know anything about foot pain, Citizen Edmund?" Joe was always looking for modern-day medical advice.

"Where's it hurt?"

Joe pointed to the bottom of his right foot.

"That might be waht they call Plantar Fasciitis," I offered.

"Plantar what?"

"It's a very painful foot condition in the heel and arch area. I had it once. Let me do a little research on the condition and I'll let you know what I've learned the next time you appear in one of my dreams."

"Thank you Edmund--I'm always able to rely on your expansive knowledge, You would have surely been a great and respected ruler if you had lived in my time."

"No doubt, Joe. And one more thing--please call me Ed. Only my parents call me Edmund."

And with that, Gladiator Joe exited from my dream as quickly as he had appeared.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Punking People on Craigs List

I am so tired of some of the Help Wanted ads I find on Craigs list every day. What really gets my goat is when I see these postings where companies require a wide range of very specific qualifications, all the way from whether or not a person has a sense of humor, how many kids they have or what kind of car they drive.

These are employers that want to get deep into your life. They might as well move in next door .Yet, in most cases, they’re offering below-market wages for all these qualifications they require. Then, after they hire you, they’ll undoubtedly work you like a dog and make your life miserable.

And it’s been getting worse lately because we’re in a recession and employers can make candidates jump through more hoops than ever before. They’re so many unemployed people out there and competition for jobs is so fierce that they can get away with it and it makes me ill.

Today I saw a posting for an entry-level sales position, in which a search firm was asking for ridiculous qualifications. Somewhere in the ad they said that they were looking for a person who was in a fraternity or sorority and played intramural sports. What on earth does that have to do with being a good entry-level salesman? So, I decided to punk them a little bit. I sent the company this e-mail as a reply to their posting. They want a frat boy? Well, I gave them one:

I read your posting and feel as though I fit all the very specific criteria you've so skillfully outlined.
Some things about me you should know and embrace:
-I was the starting QB on my school's intramural frat football squad. We won it all 6 years straight!
-I was a stud with all the sorority babes--Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, even some of the less-ugly Chi-O's--I hit it all and often.
-I earned a 3.75 GPA over a 13-semester period.
-I worked my way through college as one of the best bookies on campus.
-I had sex with three of my hotter professors. (and got A's in all 3 classes!)
-I didn't do any drugs, although I must admit I did my share of drinking. (4-times 200 Club)
-I was only arrested once and the charges were eventually reduced.
-I was Homecoming King in 2002. Won the IFC pancake eating contest in 2002-03 and appeared in the background of a Girls Gone Wild video in Cabo in 2004 during Spring Break!

As you can see, I'm a winner and a top-tier individual who is driven and focused on the prize. I think I'm an ideal match for this job. Maybe we can get together for a couple beers after Turkey Day and discuss the position? There used to be a kicking strip club down there called the Brass Rail--maybe we can meet there.
I am already in serious discussions with several Fortune 500 companies, so you better act fast!

I’ve decided to do a book called “Punking People on Craigs list.” Keep an eye out for it in coming months!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Skinny (But Healthy) is Baaaaaaaack!

Back in the '60s, it was very popular to be thin. Twiggy (pictured) was one of the top fashion models in the entire world, because she was beautiful and skinny, without being too much so. Now, in 2008 (soon to be '09) being skinny (but not unhealthy) is once again cool. That's why you should consider Anoretix--it's an amazing new diet solution that will take you to Planet Thin. It's a proven powerful fat burner/metabolic booster that contains 9 patented weight loss ingredients. Get there and be aware (show you care) abotu getting thin and healthy. Take a look at Anoretix today!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Think about Wilmington, Californians!

Even though the economy is going through a tough time now, prices in California are still sky high. Sure, home prices are plummeting, but everything else you need to survive--like food, gas, services and more--are through the roof! That's why it's a good time for California residents to start thinking about Wilmington NC real estate. Wilmington, North Carolina is a beautiful place to live, with awesome golf courses, wonderful conutryside and real Southern charm. The people who love there are really nice too--not rude and extremely self-absorbed like most of the folks in San Francisco. Consider Wilmington; do a little research about the area and you'll be happy you did!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Love Alli!




I was talking to my neighbor Kevin. He's one of those people who embraces life but hasn't a clue. He's like a big dog who jumps up on you enthusiastically, but can also pee on the carpet if given the opportunity (and a few beers). We like to discuss trivial things like sports and entertainment. We stay away from politics and religion, because he's a Rush Limbaugh fan and I lean more toward not caring one way or the other, which annoys him to no end.

I was trying to explain to him how happy I was with my new diet pill called alli.

"Man, I love alli," I said.

"You mean, Muhammad Ali? The greatest boxer ever? The man who flew like a butterfly and stung like a bee? That Ali?"
"Uh, no, Kevin...I..."


"Oh, then you must mean his daughter, Laila Ali. Man, that girl is a great fighter, just like her old man, she..."
"Uh, no, not Laila either, Kevin. I'm talking about..."

He interrupted me for the third time. How dare he interrupt me when I'm interrupting him.

"Oh, then you must be referring to Ali McGraw. Wasn't it sad when her character died in Love Story? I saw that movie when I was a kid and I cried..."

"Not her, either," I said, tiring of this guessing game from hell.

"I'm talking about alli, with 2 l's. It's a great diet pill that I've been taking and I love it. No jitters. No side effects. And the weight is coming off like gangbusters."

"Oh," Kevin said sullenly.

We both went back into our respective houses, no wiser and a little more confused.




Friday, November 14, 2008

My Interview with Former Major Leaguer Nate Oliver


I have interviewed almost 50 retired major league baseball players throughout the years and few have made me feel as comfortable as Nate Oliver. A soft-spoken and extremely articulate man, I have talked to him on several occasions after meeting with him initially in early 2005. His stories of his years as a player and a coach are both fascinating and candid.
Nate is the son of Jim Oliver Sr., who had played in the Negro Leagues. James Oliver Field in St. Petersburg, named after Nate's father, was the first field to be refurbished under the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Field Renovation Programs. Nate's brother, Jim, also played professional baseball.
Nate was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1959. He hit just .224 for the Green Bay Blue Jays and Fox Cities Foxes that year. In 1960, he hit .329 for the Great Falls Electrics and appeared ever so briefly for the St. Paul Saints. He played in the minors for the Spokane Indians in 1961-65 and in 1967, topping .300 in '62-'63. He came up to the majors for the first time in 1963, a year the Dodgers won the World Series. He appeared in 65 games, playing primarily second base, and hitting .239. He did not play in the World Series that year.
The next year, in 1964 at age 23, Nate had his most at-bats in the major leagues, getting 321 at-bats in 99 games. He hit .243 with 9 doubles and stole 7 bases.
In 1965 he appeared in only 8 games with the Dodgers, but in 1966 he played in 80 games with a .193 average. He appeared in game 4 of the World Series as a pinch-runner.
In 1967, his batting average improved to .237 in 77 games. In the off-season, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants in the deal involving Ron Hunt and Tom Haller. He appeared in only 36 games in 1968, hitting .178/.189/.205.
In the off-season before 1969, he was traded to the Yankees, and played one game with them before they traded him to the Cubs, where he finished out his career in 44 games hitting .159.In 1989, Oliver managed the Arizona League Angels, and in 1990-91 he was at the helm of the Palm Springs Angels. In 1998, Oliver managed the Arizona League Cubs and in 1999 managed the Daytona Cubs, and in 2000 was a roving infield instructor in the Cubs organization. In 2003, he took over the managerial reins of the Saskatoon Legends of the Canadian Baseball League in mid-season from Ron LeFlore.
In 2006-07 Nate was the bunting instructor for the Chicago White Sox organization.


On former Cubs teammate Ron Santo: “I cannot believe this man is not in the Hall of Fame. If you look at what Ronnie has done-he won 8 Gold Gloves, he was in 6 or 8 all-star games, he has 378 home runs, he might still have the best fielding percentage of any third baseman, I think he still holds that record. He was no average Joe. He was an outstanding player. He was our team captain. I don’t know what else they want the guy to do.”


On the Cubs fans: “Oh, Jesus. Everybody always talks about the Cardinals fans, the Yankees fans, the Red Sox fans, but the Chicago Cubs fans to me were the very best. They were the greatest. Until this year (2004) I had never heard them boo one of their own players, but this year I did hear them boo Sammy (Sosa) which was sad. I thought I heard them boo Sammy this last season. But, as a rule, they never booed their own players. They were just unbelievably supportive. But, I don’t need to tell you that, because wherever you go, you see Cubs fans. It’s like it was with the Red Sox fans. You’d see them everywhere-praying, dreaming, hoping. And now that the Red Sox have won it all, people are starting to say that it must be the Cubs’ time. If they don’t win it within the next six years, it will be a century of no championships for the Cubs.”


On the Dodgers in the ‘60s: “The Dodgers were known around the league as a very arrogant team at that time. People said they were very conceited, but it wasn’t that at all. They were just really confident and people misinterpreted that as arrogance. It was instilled in them from the first day with the organization and the people who played there respected the tradition and fostered it. Every year, there was only goal and that was to get to the World Series. Everything else was second best.”


The famous Roseboro, Marichal fight: “We had Johnny Roseboro, probably the most respected guy on that team, because he was such a tremendous student of the game and when he spoke, regardless of who was in the room, everybody listened, because everything he said was profound. Marichal and Roseboro were probably two of the most respected men in baseball. They were also the two most competitive people in sports, period. They were also two of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, in terms of being human beings and in terms of being gentlemen. If you recall or have heard the story, because of that fight and the fact than Juan hit Johnny with the bat, Marichal was having some initial problems getting into the Hall of Fame. And it was Roseboro who made the phone call to the powers-that-be and said ‘are you kidding, this is one of the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen.’ That was an isolated incident between two clubs who did not like each other and it was part of that rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers.”


The self-managed Dodgers of 1963: “Junior Gilliam was essentially the manager on the field. He had no problem taking on that role. If a pitcher was in trouble out there and something was going awry, Gilliam would step up immediately and act as the manager. Our pitching coach Red Adams would only come running out if he saw something mechanically wrong with the pitcher. Because if a pitcher fell behind; if he was wild or his concentration level wasn’t there, it would be Gilliam that would call time and walk over to the mound. All our manager Walter Alston had to do was sit there and push buttons, because we had so many guys like Gilliam, Maury Wills, Jim Lefebvre and Roseboro who were such tremendous students of the game of baseball.”


On teammate Maury Wills: “He was so valuable to that Dodgers team, because when he got on base, everybody knew he was going to steal. You can’t imagine how exciting it was to hear 55,000 people at Dodger stadium yelling ‘Go! Go!’. If 55,000 people knows he’s going to go, then you know the opposing team certainly knows it. But, it didn’t matter, because they couldn’t stop him. He was going to go within the first three pitches; they just didn’t know when. What Wills did was create havoc for the other team. He got more fastballs for me and anyone else who batted behind him in the lineup. He also drew the infielders in because of his speed. And he kept the defense on edge at all times, which basically means that they were distracted and out of position. As a result, ground balls that would normally have been routine infield outs are now going through as base hits, because they’re defending Wills and not defending the hitter. He did so many things just by being so aggressive and by being the greatest base stealer I ever saw.”


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Playing Golf with the Two Babes


I had another strange dream last night. I was playing golf with Babe Ruth and Babe Didrickson and they were taking turns kicking my derriere. I am not what you call even a decent golfer, but I usually can at least win when I'm dreaming.

Babe Ruth birdied the fifth hole and Didrickson eagled the sixth. I double-bogeyed both of them.

I hope we're not playing for money, I thought.

"Hey, keed, ya play like a duffer. Isn't this supposed to be YOUR dream?" The Bambino was needling me.

"Yeah, that's pretty pathetic. We're skunking you and you're supposed to be calling the shots." Didrickson said. "Not only are you getting spanked by a girl and a fat guy, but we've both been dead for more than 50 years."

"Make that 70, Babe, at least for me." the Sultan of Swat replied.
"That's right, Babe." Didrickson said. "I forgot that you've been gone that long."
"But, I can still smack the ball, uh?"
"No doubt," Babe said to Babe.

"And you have the advantage of using superior equipment. Just think how good we'd be able to play back then with the new clubs and balls these pros use today. Take the Cobra golf drivers and irons, for instance." Ruth was making a point while smoking a cigar and eating a hot dog.

"Exactly big boy. Cobra makes precision clubs featuring dual weighting systems, a large face area, and maraging steel free inserts. Their fastback crown design and custom sole are state-of-the-art." Didrickson said.


"Honey, can you imagine how good we'd be if we had Cobra golf clubs way back then?"

"Aww, forget about it! Tiger Woods would be carrying my bag."


Both Babes threw back their heads and laughed heartily. Ruth even sprayed a little mustard on my nice golf sweater.
I woke up-sweating profusely and 12 strokes down.

Those French Know Their Toast

The other day I had an opprtunity to sample one of the most decadent dishes on the planet. It's called French toast casserole and it's not for the weak of heart. Imagine stuffed French toast meets macaroni and cheese meats sugary sweet euphoria. It's a daibetic coma just waiting to happen, but it is so tasty and wonderful that it cannot be resisted. It's breakfast and dessert in a union that is so wrong I don't wanna be right. The flavors, the textures, the options (you can really put anything you want in it, from bacon to fresh fruit to chocloate or caramel.) I am drooling like one of Pavlov's dogs just thinking about this amazing creation. It is times like these that make me happy to be living on this orb during this precise time in history. When they look back 1,000 years from now on our civilization, French toast casserole will be cited as the beginning of our Final Days. It's that wrong--and that good!

Oktoberfest Is Dangerous!

I landed in Germany just in time for Oktoberfest, the largest beer-drinking, sausage-eating gorgy in the world. I hit the first mega-tent I saw and guzzled down 4 beers and gobbled up 6 sausages of different types in the first hour.
Suddenly I got a Babe Ruth-sized case of massive, gut-turning, very painful and extremely horrific indigestion.


Next thing I know, a German doctor is probing me in sensitive places with a tool that looks like a trowel.


"Vat did you eat?" The doctor had his nose hairs combed into a mustache.


"Those uh, spicy sausages."


"How many?"


"Maybe six."

The doc muttered something in German and continued probing.


"How many beers did you drink, yah?"


"I don't know, maybe 3 or 4."


"Oh, there's the problem."


"What doc? What is it?"


"You need more beer."


Oh, I thought, of course. Beer will settle my stomach. If I ever have the desire to drink one again.


Oktoberfest is not for the weak and I know that now.


For the next four days, I drank Pepto and experienced what I call "Adolph's Revenge."


My stomach started churning again when I got the doctor's bill-$350 American.

I'm sure glad I bought travel insurance.

Meet the Next President: OPRAH!!


When Barack Obama made his acceptance speech in Chicago last week, the cameras kept flashing on Oprah leaning on and weeping all over some guy who is now a media star. Everything Oprah touches (I don't need to even mention her last name, that's how famous she is) turns into gold! The woman was glowing like a Chernobyl baby!
After supporting him early on and actually going on the road and campaigning for Obama, Oprah must now certainly believe that she's a president maker, in addition to being the highest paid woman on TV. Will the President-Elect now feel obligated to keep her involved? Will she be the new Secretary of the Interior, for instance?
The already self-absorbed Oprah must now think she can do no wrong. She gives needy people cars and money; she started a school in Africa and celebrities clamor to be guests on her show. Every public appearance she makes results in a mad mob scene. She's into publishing, the Web, radio and retailing.
Oprah's show is a consistent hit and she's assembled a following equal to any entertainer on the planet. She recommends books and they hit the bestseller list. She touts other entertainers and they get their own shows. She drops a dozen eggs and an omelette suddenly appears. She breaks wind and it's an alternative fuel source.
What's next? Will Oprah run for president herself in 2012? Or will she put the people in place to run, say a ticket with Dr. Phil for Prez and Rachel Ray for VP? It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Obama's victory was a triumph for Oprah. And now it's time to give for Barack to give her her due!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Best Diet Loss Pill: Have You Voted?

This is a new beginning here in this country. And part of that involves a healthier way of living. And a substantial part of that is all about the best weight loss pill in the world. Well, it's still up for discussion. This is you vote and your call so don't drop the ball. Comment here, my fans, and let's see where you stand on this subject. What is the best weight loss pill on the market out there right now? It's a tough question. We don't want to be quite as skinny as Keira Knightley, but we still feel like we could afford to lose a few pounds. No one may really have the definitive answer, but that is for YOU the consumer to decide. Don't shy away from the question. In fact, try and gravitate toward the answer. Let it be YES!

UGG Boots Are 4 Guys Now!




Hey, if it works--go with it. UGG Boots have always been great-looking on women. Hotties like Pam Anderson got the ball rolling and other celebrity babes like Judy Tenuta, Star Jones, KT Boyle, Laurie Stapleton, Michelle Bogdon, Sally Struthers, Hillary Clinton and Linda Evans have all helped to make UGG Boots famous. But, guess what? Now the guys are wearing them too, including Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, Andy Dick, Danny "The Greek" Rettig, Bettlejuice, Eric the Midget, Eric Gouldsberry, Alex Durbin, Jerry Lewis, Bruce Muiles and Tom Hanks. UGG Boots have crossed over, fellas! Do you have yours yet?

Friday, November 07, 2008

There's Something A-Sconce Here!


My buddy Jason hit it big a few years back. He wrote some video game software and made like $5 million in two years.

He bought this amazing mansion on a hill in Los Angeles with a huge home theater, almost as exhilarating and historic as the first theater ever built. (See photo) I think they called it The Delphi.

There was this enormous movie screen that automatically retracted up into the ceiling, theater seats, high-tech surround sound and even a popcorn machine.

But, what really caught my eye were the home theater sconces.

I have to admit-I am a big sconce fan.

I see a sconce, well-it gets emotional; sometimes.

So, check out the home theater sconces at www.stargatecinema.com.

But, don't tell me about it.

I can get crazy around sconces!

Balancing Life & Work Issues with The Donald


I had a dream last night where I was talking to Donald Trump.

"I have a good credit score but no assets, so what do I do?" I asked The Man Himself.

"You're basically a newbie, a post-40, behind-the-economic-times sputnik baby who did drugs for 12 years and is now trying to jump back in the credit game?"

"Yeah, I guess," I replied. DT pretty much had me pegged--exactly.

"So, you're coming to me asking for free advice just because I happened to show up in your drug-induced, alcohol-impaired dream?"

"Uh, well, I..." This guy is good, I'm thinking.

"You think Donald Trump makes money appearing in people's dreams?"

"I never thought about it, I..."

"Balance transfers," The Donald suddenly blurted out.

"What?"

"I don't have time to explain it to you. There are no paparazzi here, so i will have to leave soon. Transfer those balances and you'll live a more balanced life, at least financially."