4 June 2011
I was staring at a list that I made for what I did on Saturday, and realized there is no escaping the parallels to “Eat. Pray. Love.” Even the ordering of words matched up. Fine, so be it. Except it was a little more along the lines of “Gorge. Fear. Brad Pitt.”
Chocolate for breakfast. Began my day with a chocolate tour at the Tcho Factory, newly situated on the Embarcadero pier. Tcho’s founder is a guy who was sick of dealing with space shuttle technology and decided to head in the opposite direction instead: chocolate making. He’s absolutely obsessed with the process of transforming cacao beans into edible chocolate.
Tcho’s selling point is that they closely work with chocolate farmers, providing them better technology and “Flavor Labs” so they can understand how they shape flavor. Tcho also claims to be a symbol of new-age chocolate: combining the technological innovation of Silicon Valley, the spirit of hippie and environmentally conscious San Francisco, as well as the charm and tradition of chocolate making. Tcho = technology + chocolate.
Raw cocoa nibs taste very slightly like chocolate, have a subtle aroma, and are delicious. Would be great in some sort of meat dish.
We got to sample the different flavors of chocolate after the historical presentation and factory tour. Tcho doesn’t add flavor to any of their chocolates. Instead, they ask the cocoa beans to the do the job itself, which is remarkable. I mean, think about it. Cocoa beans start as a fruit that is influenced so much by its environment and its harvesters that they’re bound to develop their own personality. It can be fruity, nutty, chocolatey, cirtus, earthy, or floral. The makers have managed to find beans that carry the first four flavors, but are still working on floral and earthy.
You have to resist and let the chocolate melt on your tongue to truly detect the flavors. My personal favorite is definitely the fruity, which brings a different experience each time. Apparently the flavors are wholly dependent on your body’s state of the day – hydration levels, sleep deprivation, and even what you had for breakfast. The first time I tried the fruit I tasted banana, but the second time I detected the tang of blackberry.
I have to say, coming from a chocolatier (apprentice) perspective, understanding chocolate making is fascinating. This is the foundation of our truffles (although Sôcôla sources from E. Guittard, a family owned company in SF). It’s a whole different art.
At the end I treated myself to a Tcho Mocha, made with Blue Bottle Coffee. I’m not a big coffee drinker – I only crossed over to the dark side this year thanks to a friendly drink you may know as mocha. She’s dark, sassy, and her sweetness is addictive. And this mocha definitely activated my brain’s pleasure center (sexual innuendos not included).
You’re still waiting for the gorge part, right? Check the Daily Nutrition Report.
I practiced a Hatha/Vinyasa Flow class in the afternoon. My intention for the class was to be present, because I’ve noticed I’ve already started to worry about whether I’m learning anything from this summer (which is silly, I know. But hey, Harvard anxiety kicks in every now and then).
All was good and well until the teacher asked us to pull our maps up against the wall. Headstand time.
I’ve had interesting experiences with headstands and handstands. First let me say I can’t really do them. My first class of yoga in Boston ever was called “Rock Your Asana” (judge all you want) and the class description was something along the lines of: A time to have fun and mess around while incorporating traditional yoga poses. All you need to do is bring a smile. I was seriously surprised when everyone around me started doing handstands, twists in midair, and any other crazy pose you can think of.
Me? I awkwardly shuffled my mat up against the wall and placed my hands on the mat to attempt a weak headstand. Needless to say, I failed. I felt too embarrassed to ask the teacher for help, and my neighbor noticed how uncomfortable I felt surrounded by a room of experts. She smiled and guided me through my first Salamba Sirsasana (supported headstand) against a wall. I did it rather clumsily, but hey, it opened a small avenue for me because I realized being upside down wasn’t impossible.
My second encounter with the practice was my first day in SF. I had a day all to myself and found a workshop online at Yoga Mayu that focused on building headstand foundations. I was eager to learn so I signed up. I told the teacher that the acquirement of the skill wasn’t just about learning a new talent – it was also a way for me to learn to be with my fear.
I didn’t make it anywhere near as far as the other three students. In fact, I was still in the same place progress-wise as my first day. I think it largely had to do with my awareness of my posture, which I only have a very minimal understanding of.
So here I was, enjoying my yoga practice, when the teacher asked us to try the supported shoulder stand against the wall. I could do it, but I couldn’t progress into any advanced moves. After ten minutes of attempts, she asked us to “Let go of what you just did, and accept the state your body is in” before we relaxed into savasana (Corpse pose).
I know it’s okay that I’m only in the very beginning stages of my inversion practice, but sometimes I get so frustrated with myself. It really is a challenge to accept myself as I am as a novice yogi. Sometimes I forget I’ve only done yoga seriously for less than two weeks. I’ve still got a lot to learn about fear.
On my way back, I ran into Sam and Josephine, two kids who were selling paintings outside their house. I’ve never seen any entrepreneurial lemonade-selling action before, since I grew up in Hong Kong where houses are unheard of. I almost died with how cute they were.
I really admire those kids. They’re basically the image of budding entrepenuers around the world: fearless, nonjudgemental, and buzzing with enthusiasm. I talked to a guy named Kyle after my class that day who is about to launch his website that uses ads to raise money for non-profit service organizations. It’s all the same, really. Everyone who starts something seems to embody this passion and belief in their idea. There’s no time to fear failing or even contemplate what other people are thinking of them. There’s something more important you need to do.
Joselyn, one of my roomies and Summer partner in crime, is finally here! Not really knowing what to do on a SF Saturday night, we decided to watch a movie together. So romantic, I know. We watched The Tree of Life, a new movie starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.
- You need to be in the right frame of mind to watch this. Maybe even high.
- The shots, cinematography, and editing were mindblowing. It was beautiful, artistic, and so creative. My absolute favorite shot was this upside down angle of the children’s shadows (I know it’s hard to picture – that’s because I swear it’s never been done before). I seriously cannot get over how good it was.
- I appreciate movies that don’t really have a plot, I really do. I can enjoy just “be”-ing and absorbing the memories flashing across the screen. But seriously, two and a half hours of this was just way too much. An hour would have been a lot more enjoyable.
- Oh hi, childhood flashbacks. You’re welcome here.
- I can hear certain people moaning about the Christian undertones of the film, but I think they need to step back and view it as spirituality, not religion.
- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post critic, puts it best: “Both good and bad, great and fatally flawed, transporting and disappointingly literal”
Conclusions: it’s a movie of meditation, visual splendor, and a practice in creativity. Great, but over one and half hours of childhood memories? Too much. I’m fairly neutral about this movie (besides being totally in love with the visuals). Think Space Odyssey, Brokeback Mountain, Waking Life…but taken to a whole new level with a lot of whispering.
Daily Nutrition Report
- Lunch @ Ferry Builiding Farmer’s Market: Korean Taco from Namu and a Tuna Lox Sandwich with fresh yellow beets, cream cheese, sourdough bread, and red onions. The Korean taco was good, and I can see how it’s exciting for non-Koreans. But honestly, I was extremely unimpressed. My mom does this stuff in her sleep: some bulgolgi, kimchi, and white rice wrapped with seaweed. At least it was a nice throwback.
- Dinner @ Frjtz with Joss: Arles Belgian Mussels & Rivera Salad. Neither of us were being very adventurous. The mussels were made with the standard butter, parsley, white wine, and garlic, while the salad was a fairly standard (and huge) Mexican Salad. Both were delicious.
- An obsession with lemons @ the Farmer’s Market: have you ever tried lemon whole milk yoghurt or lemon hummus before? Both were light and creamy, yet delightfully (yes, think smiley face worthy) fresh.Lesson of the Day
Don’t feel bad if 8 year olds are more artistically talented than you are. Feel bad if you’re beating yourself up over the fact that they are.