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Confess — unless you’re Asian, you don’t know what a tiffin is, do you?

Confession — neither did we.

Resolution — a tiffin is:

  1. A Scottish cake that’s not baked.
  2. A town in Ohio.
  3. A multi-layered lunch pail.
  4. All of the abo — yes, of course; 4’s the right answer.

But in San Francisco, 3 is righter still. Since June, 2018, Le Colonial(see that entry) has been serving Sunday night tiffin dinners. In this French-accented Vietnamese restaurant, tiffin is another way of saying family-style.

Here’s how it works. You’re handed a menu, from which the table must choose Tiffin Dinner 1 (three tiers, $19 per person) or 2 (four tiers, $29 per person). Then —and here’s where it gets tricky — all tablemates have to agree on one course from each tier. Spring rolls or crab cake. Curry shrimp or lemongrass chicken. Garlic noodles or fried rice. And so forth.

Agreement reached, food ordered, and a few minutes later, the waiter appears, carrying a stack of round, stainless steel containers. He deconstructs them and passes them around the table.

We chose the coconut-crusted crab cake, jumbo shrimp curry, wok-fried jasmine rice and green beans with shitake mushroom garlic oyster sauce. Followed by, for six dollars, a flourless cake dessert.

Delicious. All delicious. And served in the tropical, old Vietnam, wicker chairs and ceiling fans that is Le Colonial, a San Francisco gem.

 

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Class

As the peninsula south of San Francisco morphed from orchards to computers, the name changed from Valley of Heart’s Delight to Silicon Valley. As techies replaced farmers, with few exceptions, property values in the Valley rocketed.

Redwood City was one of the exceptions. For years, the city was a backwater in a fast-flowing stream.

No more. Today, Redwood City is a rapidly growing municipality that has preserved its historic Broadway downtown, now home to old brick buildings, a leafy canopy, and to restaurants of every stripe and ethnicity.

At the center of the district is The Courthouse 2021, the first and only restaurant on Broadway serving classic American cuisine. It’s fine-dining personified, from service to setting, price to portion, freshness to flavor. Down from San Francisco or up from San Jose, it’s worth the trip.

The menu cleverly divides offerings by their origin: Green Earth, Charcoal & Wood, From The Sky, From The Sea, From The Hoof.

  • Among the stars … From Wood: Courthouse Signature Flatbread (wood-oven dried tomatoes, fresh buratta, basil, garlic puree and truffle honey: $14.)
  • From Sea: Pan roasted day boat scallops on saffron & pea risotto, $32. It comes with sturgeon caviar, which is fine on its own but detracts from the ultra-fresh taste of the large, plump scallops; ask for it to served on the side.
  • And from Dessert: Chocolate Molten Cake with vanilla Crème Anglaise, candied orange zest, muddled raspberry and bourbon crème $14.

Courthouse 2021’s setting features muted wall coverings, white tablecloths, high ceilings and Mediterranean stonework. Service is informed, involved (but not hovering), formal (by California standards) and polite. At meal’s end, you feel ever so slightly more important than you really are. A sure sign of class.

 

The Courthouse 2021 Restaurant: 2021 Broadway, Redwood City. Monday through Sunday from 3 to 11 p.m. Street parking and public lots are readily available. www.thecourthouse2021.com. For reservations, also via OpenTable.com, (650) 367-7974.

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DO NOT FLUSH (The micromovie) 

We make minimovies, most of ’em at www.youtube.com/julesolder. Well, I’ve just made our first MICROmovie, DO NOT FLUSH.

Minimovie? Fifteen minutes or under. Shot in minimalist mode: No lights, no riggers, no best boy, no money to speak of.

Micromovie? A minute or less. This one’s 30 seconds short.

Quiz: Can you spot the auditory joke? The one in addition to that final sound?

DO NOT FLUSH

https://youtu.be/6-2dixCuytE

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Best. Exhibit. Ever.

If you’re not lucky enough to live in San Francisco, this exhibit is worth a trip to the City by the Bay. Well worth it.

The show, which runs till October 28, is Rene Magritte: The Fifth Season. It is exclusive to San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will not tour. Two other things make it worth the journey:

One is Magritte. More than any other artist—including Escher and Dali—he alters reality by painting hyper-realistically. When he paints a giant shaving brush, every hair on that brush stands out. His rocks look like rocks; mountains like mountains. Once that’s done, he bends that reality . . . and your mind.

The other is that this brilliantly put-together exhibit ends with its own reality bending, what Magritte might have done if he’d lived in the Digital Age.

Best. Exhibit. Ever.

Don’t. Miss. It.

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Have we got a tip for you!

On your next trip to San Francisco, you’ll be tempted to eat at State Bird Provisions, named the best new restaurant in the country. You’ll either wait a month or more for a reservation or wait what feels like a month or more outside, in line, hoping for a table.

We ate there but didn’t like it much at all. The combination of ingredients and spices in most dishes made little sense to our eyes or our taste buds. And featuring Rice Krispies as an innovative ingredient left our dining experience less than impressive.

But. Right next door is its sister restaurant, The Progress. No line, no breakfast cereal. And seriously wonderful food. The chef knows his ingredients, the bartenders know their mixology, the waiters know their menu. It’s a delight.

Not a cheap delight. Oysters are $3 each. Halibut is $32. Abalone’s $36. And deserts run $10-12.

But. It’s a worthy splurge. Your taste buds will tingle. Your stomach will thank your mouth. You’re in the hands of true professionals who are intent on giving you a memorable experience, a memorable San Francisco experience.

Of special note: the bowl of forest gifts—roasted morels. Perfect taste of woodland wonder for $23. Stinging nettle & ricotta ravioli with black trumpets and apple cider ‘saba’. The ravioli is melt-on-your-tongue tender, and you can taste each individual ingredient in the dish. Alaskan halibut with fava beans. It’s as tasty in your mouth as it is beautiful to your eyes. $32. And the chocolate torte with strawberries and pistachio. Meal-ending sweet deliciousness.

Three more tips: If there’s just two of you, skip the platters so you can taste more dishes. And sit at the bar. Conversation with the mixologists and the lively patrons just adds to the pleasure of the evening. And order with sharing in mind. The servings may not look large, but they’re rich and filling, and the tastes are to be savored, not gorged.

The Progress:  (415) 673-1294, 1525 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115, http://statebirdsf.com.

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Make. More. Money.

 

When I was offered $800 for a long article, I said, “I was thinking of something in four digits.” The editor said, “I’ll get back to you.”

A day later, I got the call: “We can’t do $1000. The most I can pay is $875.”

I said, “Sold.”

Now, $75 won’t make me rich. But $75 in my pocket is better than $75 in the publisher’s. And I made that happen in ten seconds and eight (8) words.

*****

Here’s how you can do it in one (1) word. Just say no.

“I can’t pay, but you’ll get plenty of exposure.” No.

“We pay $25 for 1,000 words.” No.

“You write it, we own the rights.” No.

*****

Here’s another make-more-money word: Instead of raising your rates, you’re changingthem. For more on this one-syllable substitution, read here.

*****

Seth Godin offers this phrase to change the hearts of tight-fisted clients:

You’ll pay a lot, but you’ll get more than you pay for. 

He says,“That’s as useful a freelancer marketing strategy as you can fit in a single sentence.”

*****

The Olders use a variation on that sentence. When told that an outlet can get a service way cheaper than our price, we say, “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

*****

Effin and I were at a noisy product launch in San Francisco when the call came. A production studio wanted to use one of my minimovies for a new show on the History Channel.

To escape the noise, we stepped outside, me on my phone, Effin standing three feet away. All she could hear was my end of the conversation. It was short — went like this: “Two-hundred dollars? I was expecting twice that much.”

Then I went quiet.

A moment passed. Two.

Then the answer: “We can do $300 and no more.”

I said, “Sold.”

(As far as I can tell, that show never materialized, but the check did.)

Got your own Make More Money strategies? Send ‘em my way, and, unless you specify, I’ll try to share with the Lifeguards.

Jules

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They came to the tracks …

June 5, 1968. Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated.

June 8, 1968. The funeral train carrying RFK’s body begins its journey from New York City to Washington, D.C. On board the train is photojournalist Paul Fusco. But Fusco doesn’t take pictures on the train. He photographs the thousands of people who come to the tracks to say good-bye to Bobby.

SFMOMA’s exhibition, The Train, features photos from Fusco’s collection of images of individuals, families, and various groups of people who wave, cry and hold up signs of fondness and farewell.

Fusco’s often-times blurry photographs capture the movement of the train and the sorrowful mood of grieving Americans saying their last good-byes to Robert F. Kennedy.

The exhibition runs to June 10, 2018.

 

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