Monthly Archives

July 2017

In Literature, Philosophy on
July 17, 2017

Thoreauly Bohemian

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

If you could crystallize your values and what you believe to be true down to a few simple phrases, what would they be? What is the philosophy that you live by? It’s hard, isn’t it? Finding quiet time to really think about what matters most in today’s hustle and bustle is a herculean task. But, (deep breath) I am going to try. So, here goes everything…

I believe in grace; but I don’t believe in human sacrifice. Basically, I believe there is goodness, and even greatness, in everyone and especially in nature.  I believe that it is my life’s mission to look for that goodness and greatness in everything around me. So, did Henry David Thoreau.

Thoreau is most well known for his iconic book “Walden”. He is also known in the philosophy world as one of the more famous transcendentalists.

Transcendentalism is best understood when viewed in its historical context. It was after the revolutionary war and before the civil war. A new nation was being formed, and with it a new cultural identity. Thoreau and other intellectuals in the Massachusetts area wanted to create a body of literature and contribute to western philosophy in a uniquely American way.

Transcendentalists believe in freedom to act in accordance with personal intuition–with gut feelings. They were not staunchly religious. However, they were not purely secular either.  They valued the experiential, the passionate, and the more-than-just-rational perspective. Transcendentalists believed that God gave humankind the gift of intuition, the gift of insight, the gift of inspiration. Why waste such a gift?

The transcendentalists ideology draws upon the writings of Emmanuel Kant as well as Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. They felt that individuals do best when they are left to govern themselves. They believed in equality at a human level. To the transcendentalists, any hierarchical institution of society which fostered vast differences in the ability to be educated, to be self-directed, were institutions to be reformed. These transcendentalists were activists.

Thoreau was an abolitionist, and participated in the underground railroad. He wrote a now famous essay entitled “Civil Disobedience”. In it he argued that when a government is not governing its constituents in an honorable way, civilians are justified in rebelling against that government.

Thoreau and other transcendentalists emphasized the basic goodness of nature and human nature. to truly live and experience the ideology, Thoreau lived in a small cabin at Walden Pond for two years, where he wrote his most famous work, Walden.

Thoreau was certainly a bohemian. He was a deep and progressive thinker. He practiced an unconventional lifestyle living in the woods of Massachusetts on Walden Pond. He was nonconformist believing in abolition and refusing to pay taxes.

He will always be one of the leading and most influential bohemian philosophers and literary figures. I look forward to reading his book Walden with all of you in our book club this fall! Stay tuned for more details where that is concerned; and, in the bohemian words of Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

In Food on
July 3, 2017

Where Locals Brunch in San Francisco

You’ve heard the old adage: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” However, I would argue the meal to beat all meals is the very necessary weekend brunch.  The questions of where and what to brunch on in San Francisco are not questions to be taken lightly. But, fear not dear reader, I have done the research for you.  In fact, this happens to be my favorite research project to date, as I self-identify as a major brunch junkie.  The following are my top three locals-only San Francisco favorites. These are the places you don’t find in guide books or in tourist trap areas of the city; they don’t have 3 hour long lines out the door forcing you to wait for rubbery eggs and watered down mimosas; these are the brunch spots to beat all brunch spots—the breakfasts of champions.

#1 El Techo de Lolinda

El Techo de Lolinda: 2516 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 | Brunch Hours: Sat-Sun 11am-3pm

The Scorecard

Ambiance: 10/10

The magic glass elevator from the Roald Dahl children’s book classic Charlie and The Chocolate Factory has nothing on El Techo’s ride to the rooftop.  If you take BART to the 24th and Mission stop, you are just a few blocks away from this brunch adventure. As a heads up, those few blocks might have you guessing and questioning my choice and research. The area is a little Scorsese film set feeling. It’s The Mission district after all. But, stick with me kid, and you won’t regret it.

Since you were smart and made a reservation online through Open Table, you will check in with the host at the street-level door like a VIP and be told “Down the hall and up the elevator to your left.” The hall and elevator are both very no-nonsense. But when the elevator doors open on the rooftop, you will immediately understand why this place scored a 10/10 ambiance rating: 360 degree city views, hot Latin music, and dozens of locals in on this secret are clinking glasses and celebrating being young and being alive. 

Food & Drink: 9/10

Cuisine: South American

The chips and guac are pretty standard fare. But, the cornbread and Buñuelos are both starters that are a cut above the rest. Order those with either the La Paloma or the Lorito cocktail, and you will be in brunch heaven.

After those starters, I recommend ordering Carnitas to share. Or, if you are really hungry, go for the Benedictos. Generally, it’s game over for me whenever I see an eggs benedict dish on the menu. These are no exception; they take your classic eggs Benny to a whole new Latin level. Try them. You won’t be disappointed.

#2 Zero Zero

Zero Zero: 826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Brunch Hours: Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm

The Scorecard

Ambiance: 9/10

I’ve got 99 problems but Zero Zero ain’t one. Seriously, Zero Zero is a problem solver. Suffering from weekend ennui and a manic Monday ahead? Let Zero Zero handle that with a perfectly balanced cocktail and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits.

The ambiance is a little on the hipster meets Westworld side. It’s a fresh take on a steampunk saloon. It isn’t overly boisterous or noisy which is nice when you need a place to relax and have a good conversation.

Food & Drink: 10/10

Cuisine: Elevated Comfort Food

My cocktail recommendation is Violet Death in the Afternoon. It’s a killer combination of prosecco, absinthe and creme de violette and is garnished with a frozen orchid. For an appetizer, you must get the biscuits. Trust me, it’s a must. For your entrée, I recommend the Short Rib Pastrami Hash. Or, if you are feeling like something a little more sweet, The French Toast is also excellent.

#3 Local Kitchen and Wine Bar

Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: 330 1st St #1, San Francisco, CA 94105 | Brunch Sat-Sun 11:30-2:00PM

The Scorecard

Ambiance: 9/10

Simple and minimalistic modernity is Local Kitchen and Wine Bar’s style.  But, there is a warmth to it—coming from the direction of the pizza oven— and the lighting is soft and inviting. There is a communal long table in the center of the space, the pizza bar up close and personal with the chefs, and your regular run-of-the mill restaurant tables to choose from.

Food & Drink: 9/10

California Cuisine Using Fresh, Local Ingredients

The food here is simply delicious. For a light and bright bunch meal, I recommend the two eggs cooked your way, fingerling potatoes, and greens.  If your appetite is more robust and you need something with a little more heft to fend off the hangry, select one of their amazing Breakfast Pizzas. It is sure to fill you up.

When it comes to drink, they have a lovely Rose Cava and fantastic mimosas. If you would prefer something a little stronger, the Brexit is excellent as is the El Jefe.

So, there you have it, three brunch spots to try when you are next in San Francisco—the beautiful city by the bay that I call home.  If you are in town, and looking for a brunch buddy, drop me a line. I never turn down an invitation to brunch.

Bon appétit my fellow Bohemian Brunchers!