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We consider Alborz the best Persian restaurant and one of the best bargains in San Francisco. That’s hard to beat.  Add quietude (see below), and it’s almost impossible to beat.

Alborz serves succulent beef, lamb, chicken and vegetarian dishes and the most delicious rice in town. It’s called Shirin Polo—Basmati rice with almonds, pistachio, raisin, orange peel and saffron. Even if it doesn’t come with your order, ask for it as a special order. Trust us, you shouldn’t leave town without tasting it.

Alborz has white tablecloths, friendly servers, and astonishingly low prices. Examples: Combo Plate, an appetizer big enough to whet the tastebuds of a table of six, costs $15.95. A generous Mediterranean Salad? $8.95. Lamb shank in delicious broth with basmati rice, $18.95.  That’s also the price of Fesenjoon, roasted walnuts in pomegranate sauce served with chicken.

And oh, yes, Alborz is blessedly quiet, a rarity in San Francisco. You can actually have a conversation without yelling. That’s a treat in itself. It never ceases to amaze us how a restaurant reviewer can give a restaurant three stars and give it a bomb for noise level. That’s like dining in the middle of a Taylor Swift concert. What happened to romantic dining by candlelight?

We like to go to a movie at 1000 Van Ness and then to Alborz just up the street. It’s a winning combo.

Sutter and Van Ness. 415 440-4321

 

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Among the smaller museums in San Francisco is the GLBT History Museum in the heart of the Castro, our internationally famous gay district. The museum is basically two rooms, with static and kinetic exhibits lining almost every inch of every wall. There’s also a by-appointment-only archive of gay/lesbian/queer artefacts — though micro in size, this is a serious institution of art, history and conservation.

The museum’s most timely exhibition, in this 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, is “Lavender-Tinted Glasses.” It highlights the impact of two icons of the San Francisco 60s, Janis Joplin and Allen Ginsberg, as well as two others, Kenneth Anger and Gavin Arthur. The exhibition runs through September 17. http://www.glbthistory.org/museum/

 

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It’s a bold idea.

The concept behind SFMOMA’s new restaurant, in situ, is to work “directly with chefs and restaurants around the world to faithfully execute their recipes.” What this means is that the menu consists of dishes from leading restaurants from countries around the world including Canada, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain and the USA.

It’s not unusual to respond to a piece of modern art with the question, “What is that?” It is unusual to respond to the dishes on a menu with the same question. For example, while The Forest from France ($28) does, indeed, look like a forest floor and not something one usually eats, it consists of quinoa risotto, mushrooms, and clusters of noofa-looking, edible but tasteless “parsley moss.” The Lamb Shank Manti (Turkey, $22) includes tomato, smoked yogurt, and sumac and bears no visual relation to a lamb shank. The Jasper Hill Farm “Cheesecake” from Spain is a replica of a tiny round of cheese with a tan skin. It tastes pretty much like a super-soft, mild brie. And it costs $22.

Each dish is designated with a symbol indicating portion size: small, medium, or large. The large symbol could be eliminated as all the dishes are small or, at best, medium. The prices, on the other hand, could be designated large. A tiny portion of marinated salmon will set you back $28.

SFMOMA is the home of cutting-edge art, where stretching creativity and imagination are nurtured. In creating in situ, the museum continues its mission of innovation and vision, this time in the kitchen.

And that would be fine, but for two things: Price. And portion. Their inverse relationship dulls that cutting edge.

 

 

 

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Dear, dear Joker, I am far from certain that this is the correct item to send on Mother’s Day. If not, blame Canada.

I know it may offend you. For this I apologize and, of course, blame Canada.

Not only is it in dubious taste, but it’s an advertisement for a commercial product.

Again, blame Canada … and Joker Dave Fonda who lives deep in the heart of Quebec, Canada.

Heinz

This is an actual commercial shown in Europe. Can you imagine what would happen if shown on TV in the US?

https://videosift.com/video/He inz-Handjob

 

Enjoy your ketchup. Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Joker Jules

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Brother, where you been?

 

I’ve been hiding. I’ve been hibernating. I’ve been AWOL. And most of all, I’ve been ebbing.

It’s my long-held belief that for the sake of sanity, activists need to ebb and flow. And since this awful election, I’ve been in almost full ebb. Why? Two reasons:

  1. For my mental health.
  2. Because I feel the time’s not yet right for the resistance to begin.

While I and most folks who read this are aghast at Trump’s attacking the free press, cutting off funds to science, silencing dissent, and lying through his grimacing teeth, these aren’t the things that will roll back the tsunami of stupid that got him elected.

The rollback will come when the lies become too obvious for all but the truest believers to ignore, when the cruelty becomes too painful for all but the most heartless to scorn, when the consequences of xenophobic policies become too impoverishing to overlook.

I think all three are just beginning to happen.

Responding to the lies.

http://cnn.it/2q3WsSc              Southern Black students turn their backs

And http://wapo.st/2qV11Pm    Russian scandal becomes Truth scandal

And http://wapo.st/2q52gtZ      Soviet-style disappearing act

Feeling the cruelty

http://cbsn.ws/2pkXrZT           A must-see 60 Minutes segment

Going broke

http://lat.ms/2mDzJaS              Farmers can’t find help for harvest

And http://bit.ly/2m2YzUg       Tourism “fallen off a cliff”

So, do I think the time for resistance is nigh?

No. But I feel the first real stirrings. And a change in the tide.

Jules

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It’s a side of San Francisco that locals know well but visitors often miss. No, not the ethnic neighborhoods the Olders are so fond of — the Golden Triangle.

Golden Triangle? Around 1915, that used to be Market, Powell and Sutter Streets, downtown. Today, it’s Chestnut, Union and Fillmore, in Cow Hollow and the Marina. What makes it golden? Boutique clothing shops. Hip bars and swinging clubs. A multitude of restaurants. And the young, affluent and/or aspiring, smart and/or pretty denizens of the Golden Triangle who live and shop, flirt and eat here.

Many consider the corner of Chestnut and Fillmore the vertex of the triangle. And here, at 2001 Chestnut Street, a couple of short blocks from the Marina’s Apple Store, sits The Dorian.

The best time to dine with the locals is brunch. Which means Saturday or Sunday, from eleven to three. Bring time and an appetite.

Time because the kitchen plays constant catch-up with the crowds. Your food will come but not right away. The wait-staff is cheerful and enthusiastic, but they’re playing catch-up, too. This, the price of popularity.

In addition to a few outside tables on Chestnut, The Dorian has several rooms and corners, plus a busy, eat-at bar. It’s loud but not deafening, quirky but not bizarre. And the food is tasty and plentiful. Definitely worth the wait.

The Chef’s Favorite is the $16 #Yolklife Sando. (That hashtag is your reminder that you’re in Digital Age San Francisco.) It’s an enormous sandwich whose ingredients include a sunny-side egg, Hobb’s sausage, bacon jam, fried green tomato, aged cheddar, chorizo and aioli. Unless you have the appetite of a hungry ape, best share it.

The $13 spring market salad is nearly as large. Add six or seven dollars to top it with generous portions of chicken or shrimp. And maybe order the truffle fries to balance all that green.

The small dessert menu includes a $9 butterscotch bread pudding that’s moist and sweet but not cloyingly sweet.

The OJ tastes fresh; the coffee is disappointing — weak and warm. There are, of course, artisanal drinks (you’re in San Francisco), oysters (ditto), pancakes and grits. Enjoy the food; enjoy the scene. Welcome to the Golden Triangle 2.0

 

The Dorian. 2001 Chestnut Street, at Fillmore. Dinner served Tuesday-Sunday, brunch Saturday and Sunday. www.doriansf.com. Reservations via the website, through www.OpenTable.com and (415) 814-2671.

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IF YOU GO-OH TO SAN FRANCISCO …
Surprise(s)

So many surprises come with Urs Fischer: The Public & the Private, the newest exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, maybe it’s best to list them. Here goes …
1. The exhibit (which runs through July 2) starts outside the museum, in the courtyard. From there, it moves through eight galleries inside.
2. The outside work is, yes, crowd-sourced by the artist. In the shadow of Rodin’s Thinker, it kinda’ pales. Interesting, contemporary, but not strong artistry.
3. Ah, but inside, Fischer’s solo creations are knockouts — commanding, incisive, startling and funny. A Swiss contemporary artist with a sense of humor? That’s a surprise.
4. Unlike its sister museum, the de Young, the Legion’s oeuvre is ancient and classic European art. Now, it’s ancient and classic European art plus a pair of giant eyeballs and a tiny horse sitting on the floor.
5. Here’s what makes that such a surprise: “In the 100-year history of the Legion of Honor, this is the first exhibition to bring works by a contemporary artist into dialogue with a wide range of the Museum’s permanent holdings.” So says Max Hollein, the new director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The exhibit not only surprised us, it blew us away.

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Robert James Waller has died.

Robert James who?

Think back. Way back. 1992. Best-selling novel that all the critics hated.

One more hint, please.

Meryl Streep starred in the mov—

The Bridges of Madison County! Robert James Waller wrote the book. 

That’s the guy. He just died in Texas at 77.

OK, but why are you telling writers about the passing of a shallow, literary flash-in-the-pan who got lucky?

Because:

  1. I think he’s been badly dealt with by the literati, and
  1. I wrote his obituary in 1998.

Actually, I spoke it, on Vermont Public Radio. And at the time, it was more a commentary on lit-envy than an extremely early obit. At any rate, here’s what I said nearly 20 years ago …

 

Not too long ago I broke a strong literary taboo. On this very station, I defended Barnes & Noble. Delicate sensibilities were shocked — shocked!

Today I’m gonna do something even worse. I’m going to praise the book most reviled by authors, reviewers, satirists and literary lights. It’s the most hated book of the decade, maybe of the last five decades. And, of course, the most widely read.

I refer to … have you already guessed what I refer to? That’s right — The Bridges of Madison County. 

          The Bridges of Madison County. For a full two years after it was published, you couldn’t go to a writer’s conference without hearing it denounced. You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing it parodied. You could barely visit a bookstore without some clerk in rimless glasses raising his aquiline nose in disdain. I have never seen a book so universally reviled.

I wouldn’t want this to get around, but I liked it. A lot. There, I’ve said it: I liked The Bridges of Madison County a lot. I wish I’d written it, and not just for the fame and glory. It’s a tender love story, and it deals with the most thrilling aspect of attraction, love at first sizzle. What takes Bridges beyond the frying pan is that the heroine is caught in a big-stakes conflict: Does she leave her family for the man she loves, or does she stick it out? Is she true to her heart or to her husband and kids? Tough question. It makes for a very good book.

And a wildly popular one. This little 171-page novel has been translated into 25 languages and sold over 50 million copies worldwide. It sat on the New York Times Best Seller List for three years. In 1995, it topped Gone with the Wind as the best-selling fiction book of all time. Bridges was made into a Major Motion Picture, spawned a sudden influx of tourists to mountainless, beachless Iowa and propelled author Robert James Waller from an obscure business school professor to the most talked about — as well as most vilified writer in North America.

As 50 million book buyers know, The Bridges of Madison County is about a Midwestern farm wife who has a torrid affair with a stranger, a National Geographic photographer, who’s in the neighborhood to shoot, well, the bridges of Madison County.

It’s not exactly a groundbreaking theme. And the book is admirably short. So why the high level of hatred?

I’m glad you asked. I think there are three reasons. The most obvious is its popularity. Any work so beloved by the (sniff) masses must be junk. Chalk this up to literary snobbishness.

Second is this: It ain’t easy for an author who’s been toiling for years on the Great American Novel to discover that some Midwestern B-school teacher already wrote it. In a couple of weeks. Chalk this up to literary envy.

But the third reason for the level of vituperation aimed at Bridges is less obvious. This is a book that has a woman falling for a man. Admiring his camera skills. Knocked out by his good looks. Noticing that he washes before dinner and lowers the toilet seat. Swept away by his quietly confident masculinity.

And these ideas were written by a man! It’s the clearest case of shallow, vain narcissism the literary critics ever saw. Chalk this up to sexual envy. Bad enough, he wrote a book in weeks that’s beloved by millions. Bad enough it’s made into a movie with Meryl Streep. But to write about a male character who sounds suspiciously like the author— well, that’s the straw that broke the bridge!

RIP, Robert James. Rest in Pride.

 

 

Jules Older Jules@JulesOlder.com

 

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