Thursday, December 11, 2008

Losing your driving license is not too bad....if you can use your time to learn something.

So I lost my driving license. In the United states, you cannot drive without it in your possession while driving so I left work early and lined up at the Department of Motor Vehicles (called MVA on the East Coast.)in San Francisco. Well I did not exactly waste my time. When I got there, there were 120 numbers (= people) before me. How to kill time? I began to read the news on my blackberry but I realized news were around me: I began to study how the organization works. I asked to speak to the person in charge. I met Fred. And he explained to me that everything is now completely computerized. So if the computer system does not work, they might as well close their office. I always said everywhere and everybody needs a plan B. Because one day, we will have an earthquake or no electricity for some reason and ....???? So do you know how lucky our immigrants are? (who dared say that Americans don't treat well his immigrants?) How many countries in the whole world offer driving booklets in Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Farsi, Arabic, Luong, Chinese, Thai, Russian, Samoan,Punjabie, Lao, Hmong, Hindi, Korean, Cambodian, Eastern Armenian (is there a Western Armenian language???) and of course English. So I did ask why no French, eh are you ready for the answer? "the French people are too smart, they come to the USA with a good level of English!" BRAVO LES FRANCAIS!!

USF welcomes the President of Ireland: Mary Mcaleese

Secret services, lines of cars, professors in full regalia and BON APPETIT was there! What can I add? How many of you have seen or approached one president in their lifetime, one to go. I promised myself a few more, and Barak is on my list. So I just let you enjoy the pictures, remember click on them for details and better view.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The President of Ireland Visit – Party for thousands – Books I have read…

I am trying to attract more people. So here are some fun facts: we have the President of Ireland at USF this week and “we” are feeding her and her people. That is fun, fun but the Secret service will not allow us to go to close. Anyway, getting a contract for the Presidency (I know this is Ireland I wish it could be the President of the USA I mean President Elect Obama…) is unusual knowing there are hundreds of caterers in San Francisco. Then on Wednesday USF is throwing a holiday party for thousands of people: the logistics is unbelievable: we are working 12 hours probably on Wednesday so details to come. And I wanted to let you know that I have been reading fascinating books: "White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen" by Walter Scheib. This is not only about cooking but logistics and organization at the White house. It is such an interesting book especially during the Clintons’ time. I loved it. Then “Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom” by Qanta A. Ahmed. You live an extraordinary 400 pages in a strange atmosphere especially knowing that you are a woman, you have been studied in the USA and you are there on 9/11. You will not close that book. Then this other book which title I cannot remember: the story of the man who created the computer system for all 9/11 victims with their belongings, DNA information and how he did it with the help of an English Technical engineer working from Apple. It was pure fascination and not morbid at all. I love organization. So whatever circumstances, I love to read how to handle major situations. Whatever they are. And finally look at Joseph, one of our cooks showed up with the t-shirt. Joseph, not only you bear my name but I love you because you are a delegate for Denver for the Democratic party, you are a wonderful cook and you are so interesting to talk to! This page is for you my new friend!!! And my new friend Barak, I have promised myself to meet him. I have 4 years to make it happen....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You are going on my site…but what are you looking for?

I am puzzled: yesterday 25 people went on my site even though I have not been posting anything new. (The bakery is being re-done and these are the photos I love the most…) So one question, please answer the survey on the right: with your answers, I will do better. Or just hit reply below and leave your comments. Now since you asked me: I ADORE MY JOB. Yep! I am planning tons of events and juggling with menus and tasting and arguing (I am actually arguing about some Middle East recipes because…well…I know better than this Chinese Chef!) and all this in only 8 hours a day. I could work longer, I don’t do it because I want to be home and cook. I am looking at the lunches, the ideas, the combinations are endless.. I posted this fun picture from San Francisco's streets. In honor of Eddy, my son who loves Tintin. And he knows how much I miss him since he left home to College.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving. Preps etc...

Thanksgiving is ONE holiday we love. And this year, I really enjoyed learning that the French were here in America before the Pilgrims. YES YES!! Read the NYT and just smile...Ah the French...I wish they would have put their nose into the menu. The Thanksgiving menu is very easy but I wish I could put a French twist into it... you have to make some things and that's it: so yes we did add the Persian style rice (in honor of the first Persian immigrants...I know they did not exactly arrive on the Mayflower)but otherwise the Turkey was great, the stuffing made by Ava a delight (onions, mushrooms, parsley, bread, eggs, salt and pepper) the roasted corn was unique, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes (made by Eddy), cranberry sauce (with a red wine twist) corn bread, and one of the best salads ever made by Howard (mixed green, bosk pear in small pieces, fresh mint and fresh tarragon, sliced green onions fresh mandarins (not made in cans from China!) with a vinaigrette made of lemons and olive oil. A favorite this year! Howard, you are invited next year! We had multiple desserts: Apple pie, pecan pies, cranberry/oatmeal cookies, beautiful shaped Turkey cookies, mint tea (a definite Pilgrims' favorite, at least North African Pilgrims) and coffee. We had the loudest Thanksgiving ever!!! And tonight we are invited to a "leftover Thanksgiving party" Guess what: we have NO leftovers!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No I did not put on weight am I doing it?

Well a few of you think I am now Bibendum from Michelin: NOPE! I don't eat all day. As soon as I arrive, I go to see the bakers. Again my favorite people and favorite morning smell. Then I tour the kitchens, discuss with the chef to see what's cooking for lunch, parties and receptions of the day. But I don't stay long because I am sensitive to onions, chicken or whatever is being made that early. I go back to my office and begin my work. I stop for a piece of fruit and often a cappucino or latte (I told you there is EVERYTHING you can dream about.) My lunch varies and like Ava my daughter said "tu dois etre impatiente de manger a midi... You must be looking forward to eating at lunch." You bet! Today, Tito,the crepe maker brought to my desk one of his crepes: cheese, roasted chicken, mushrooms, spinach and caramelized onions: that is actually my main problem, everyone wants me to taste what they are making (I only ate 1/2 of the crepe.) and the fact that I am French, I am a little bit the new "judge" in town. I always get a bowl of cut fruit, strawberries, melon, watermelon, grapes. Do you know my nickname at home? "The fruit terrorist" Yes this is the way Steve called me because I am eating, cutting, peeling fruit all the time. Then I go back for more fruit, yes you read well. And then tea time with no scones or biscuits. And I could! I am still 110 lbs (49 kgs.) So whoever is worried, don't. And did I add that I exercize at home almost every day for 25 to 30 min? So relax...Ah yes, I am having a lot of fun at work if you have any doubt...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interview at France 2? Eh Michele Obama did not get this phone call yet!!

I forgot to tell you that France 2 (major French TV network) called me last week. We got an article about transfats (graisses hydrogenees in French) in Liberation a few weeks ago and they were wondering if a French tv came and visit. Well to be honest the call is really for Steve my husband. But when you say France, you automatically say Simone around the Josephs' Home. So Mr. Caillebault from France 2 wanted to interview me about transfats. This is unbelievable. Me a small French woman lost in California, found by the French TV. It is true we have seen multiple tv channels around here: most American ones from ABC to CBS to CNN, then we got Korean, Australian, Japanese to name a few who liked the story. So now France is coming strong on us. Eh like I told Mr. Caillebault, you get me a ticket and I come to Paris for the interview ...and I don't need 1st class or business class.
Here is the Liberation article in French only. Duh...
My lunch today: grilled turkey burger, one onion ring (I am being reasonable every single day and that drives the Chefs crazy because everyone of them wants me to taste things they make and I made a point to say no!) and a nice salad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vegetable terrine, Fried Potato Dumpling..Refinement...

We are talking refined items now. So if you are a vegan, you are a king here. Joseph in charge of the vegan cuisine thinks non-stop about novelties. He used red potatoes, he cooked and mashed them. Did not add any salt I guess. And he made big potatoes balls and stuffed them with tapenade, kalamata olives and dried tomatoes. Woahh that was good. I had 1/2 of one for lunch. Then Josh made some wonderful looking terrine. I did not see the end results since I had to go. But it was very thin sliced zucchini and he wrapped under some roasted peppers, portobello mushrooms and thin red onions (marinated in balsamic vinegar I guessed...) Then he put on top a strained tomatoe sauce with some gelatine. Will let you know tomorrow am about the result. It looks beautiful doesn't it?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent Exhibit and my 50th birthday celebration

So I turned 50 today. It was a great day: we went to the Museum to see this new fashion exhibit about YSL. And you will not believe me, there was a dress created in 1958 (my birth year) called SIMONE! I took a picture of the sketch and the actual dress. I have no idea who was Simone in 1958, obviously not me, but this is such a nice coincidence. So many friends and family called me. Thank you all of you. My mother in law sent me the BEST birthday card. Steve wrote the best one. "I am his first lady" Be jealous Michelle Obama! So we went to eat out for dinner at Rose Pistola. Well I needed a pistol to shut the waiter up. We have never encountered someone so obnoxious. He never stopped talking. We were delighted to leave the place. Voila. 50 years passed by, looking forward to my second half of a century! Baci from San Francisco to all of you

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Celebration cake, strawberries, eclairs, pasta...What a day!

Today, it did feel like all America woke up in a good mood. At Bon Appetit, we received a lot of orders for sweets. So voila the pictures! Then at lunch, Chef Robert (one of my favorites) served pasta with toppings on demand. Zucchini, caramelized onions, eggplants, tomatoes, mushrooms and sliced grilled chicken, all cut in front of him. You pick the toppings, I make your pasta! Now did you eat like that in college? I did not. Can you guess what I ate for lunch? Roasted peppered chicken, one roasted potatoe, caesar salad and steamed quinoa!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our new president: Barack Hussein Obama

“I have a dream that one day” the United States will wake up and elect a President that “will not be judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.” Ah Mr. King, I wish you were alive to see history play in front of your eyes. President Obama, I am so proud to be an American again. People have finally understood that what counts is the person and nothing else.
November 4, 2008

Voulez-vous voter avec moi ce soir???

While I am typing this, California polls are still open for another 30 minutes. Remember New York and the East Coast are 3 hours behind, they stopped voting a while ago while we are still doing it here on the West Coast. And this is a little bit of problem because we do get influenced by the East Coast. If one knows Obama is winning, one does not bother to go voting. People need to know every vote counts. So we woke up very early to be at the polling station the first one to vote. We voted in a school down the street from our home. [Most polling places are very close to your address.] We were no. 3 in the line. So I took some pictures (we were not supposed to so I did it quietly) so you could see the ballot (bulletin de vote en francais.) Remember to click on the picture and you will see details. We had to fill out a circle with black ink. We (Ava and I for good luck) picked President Obama. And I learned a lot. When we are done, we slide the ballot in a machine that looks like a big cubic computer. And it adds all the votes. Then at the end of the day, the Sheriff picks up the machine with body guards and takes it to San Rafael, at the Civic Center (comme une prefecture, in French) and they add all the votes from all the cities around. Now at the very end, they gave us a sticker (this is America, we always feel like kids, we got a reward...) but this time, the sticker could give you either a free Starbucks cup of coffee, a free Ben and Jerry's ice cream or a Krispy cream donut!! It is 7:12 pm and it looks like "our boy" is winning! Go Obama! A black president at the White House: the Presidential's home was built by slaves. What a beautiful moment in the US history! OK tomorrow back to my kitchen, demain, je retourne dans mes fourneaux!

Monday, November 3, 2008

We are living history in San Francisco. LIVE FROM THE BARAK OBAMA HEADQUARTERS.

We have lived a very interesting and historical last two months. This is better than any political moments I have lived in 25 years in the USA.
Our daughter has been working after school, on a volunteer basis, for the Obama campaign and has been very involved with, not only the Presidential vote but the different propositions in San Francisco. Now, what’s special about San Francisco? Well for the American people reading that, we are known for being the “leftist” of the USA. It is good that we are on the left side of the map too! But San Francisco is (and has always been) where everything begins: trends start here. May because we think ahead of the rest of the nation: to name a few examples, no transfats in food started in San Francisco, no tobacco in restaurants and offices began in San Francisco.
I have asked Ava what she did during this campaign: “Every day was different, she answered. I mostly called and double checked if people were undecided and tried to convince them to vote for Obama. I tried to encourage earlier voting. I tried to tell them if they had an absentee ballot what to do next. I told them to register. I told them where to find their polling address. I explain to them the rules when voting, for instance you cannot wear a t-shirt saying “I love Obama” that is forbidden by law to approach a polling area with your candidate name on your clothes or as a hat or a sticker on your forehead!!" In one word, she made 40 to 50 calls an hour and depending on the answer, she “undirectly” worked for Obama. If you have followed the news, you all know how thrilling this has been. We got lucky (or unlucky if they win) when McCain picked Sarah Palin. Woahhh the media took advantage of her naivete and let’s be honest, her beauty. Here is a woman with 5 children whose 16-year old daughter is pregnant. I wondered what would have happened if Obama’s had a 16-year old pregnant daughter. In repeating what Tim Wise said “…White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges…”
To be honest, she is a woman but as an American woman, I don't think she represents any of my values, my thoughts or my future. So see click to enlarge the photo on the left, I could be holding it!
So tomorrow, we will go to the polling station here in Tiburon to vote for Obama and a few propositions. This is typical American and very interesting. When there is a major election, we gather all kinds of “lois ou referendums ou propositions de lois” Every state, every county has different ones. For instance here is the list for the WHOLE state of California.
1A - California High Speed Rail Bond. S.B. 1856. This is our TGV equivalent. We are voting no. We figured we will be dead the time it is built. This is not china. Things get built and take for ever.
2 - Treatment of Farm Animals. Statute. Will only start in 2015!!! And to be honest, treating animals well before they are killed is a joke..3 - Children's Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Statute.
4 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. Constitutional Amendment. This is important for parents. YES we should be notified if our teenage girls under 21 will get an abortion.
5 - Nonviolent Offenders. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Statute.
6 - Criminal Penalties and Laws. Public Safety Funding. Statute.
7 - Renewable Energy. Statute.
8 - Eliminates the Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. We will vote NO here because, we the Josephs, are for freedom as far as couples are concerned. If a woman falls in love with another woman, it is HER choice, HER life, HER decision. And she has the right to have as many rights as me, Simone (woman) married to Steve (man.) Period.
9 - Criminal Justice System. Victims' Rights. Parole. Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
10 - Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Statute.
11 - Redistricting. Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
12 - Veterans' Bond Act of 2008. S.B. 1572.
Now, New York state has completely different propositions. And so does every other state. It is like if you were in Paris and ask for instance, that your city cleans your streets 3 times a day instead of 2. It is obvious that Nice or Toulouse might not have the same needs. So here, in Tiburon, Marin County, we have the State Propositions (12 of them see above) plus Marin County elections. We received a whole booklet two months ago with introduction of people who are getting elected or re-elected plus our own “problems” to vote for or against. For instance, here is Measure B for Marin County “ Shall the County of Marin establish an appointed director of finance consolidating the offices of auditor, controller, tax collector and treasurer, and create an appointed public administrator, with the provision that an annual independent audit be conducted and that the director of finance can only be removed with a public hearing and 4/5 vote of the Board of Supervisors?” I really don’t know and don’t care but I will vote at the last minute. So imagine, how much time we will be spending in the voting booth!!! I will be voting after work so I can take Ava with me. Ava will be working for Obama all day. She will not attend school. I think she is living history and in a few years, will be able to tell her family and friends that she worked for Barak Obama.
Now Eddy has already voted like most of the young people in colleges. Around the USA, the different colleges have organized their own polling places: this is the first time in the American history that young people are voting in masses. A FIRST! Now someone asked me what is wrong with McCain: well, I (we) are sick of Bush, of the Republicans. We just don't want 4 more years of this life. Bush has turned the whole world against the USA. We are now the most detested people on this planet! And why should I vote for someone who should head to a Senior home? The White House is not for him anymore. He has missed his time, too late. May G-d answers our prayers. We will be devastated if he wins.
Voila. Tomorrow, I hope we will bring you more news, pictures and good results.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sausages, Crepes, Fresh Orange end to my paradise.

So here is the end of the sausage. First correction, he steamed them then fried them so the Vegans can "recognize" the sausages look. You want it or not they must miss the good meat or chicken taste. So we "fake" the look! Now today, a very nice man came from Springbill in California and made fresh squeezed orange and pomagranate (grenade in French)juices. You read well. So imagine...10 am a fresh glass of orange juice at work. Lunch was only a crepe made by Tito (he is not from Yugoslavia but the Philippines and he knows crepe' technique like a guy from Brittany!!!) filled with chicken, cheese, pesto, mushrooms and a glass of pomegranate. No I have not put on weight yet. Thanks for asking though!