Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dreaming of Gary Danko...

The French Association Relais & Châteaux provides a guide to the most prestigious hotels and restaurants in over fifty countries. There are only eighteen restaurants in the United States that have earned the "Relais Gourmand" designation. In the last thirteen months, Count Fosco has dined at three of them. Here is one of those stories...

In July, Fosco had his belated birthday dinner in San Francisco with his mother and sister. Fosco would have loved to head to Napa to enjoy the delights of The French Laundry, but come on: a $200 prix fixe dinner? Not this year.

So instead, Fosco and the family went to dinner at the beloved Restaurant Gary Danko (which, it's worth noting, has the same food rating as the French Laundry in the current Zagat San Francisco guide. It's also the most popular restaurant in that survey).

[N.B., the restaurant is unrelated to the Jake Gyllenhaal space-time bender.]

Named for its eponymous master chef, Restaurant Gary Danko occupies an unassuming corner in a quiet residential neighborhood near the tourist monstrosities of Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square. There is nothing touristy about GD. The interior is a comfortable haven from the street, with warm lighting and an extraordinary profusion of flowers. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. GD prides itself on its service, and justifiably so: this was the friendliest restaurant staff I have ever experienced, from the waiters to the runners to the sommelier. You will feel extremely at ease at GD, I promise. No wonder it's so hard to get a reservation (it really was).

I'm going to walk you through our dinner course-by-course. But remember: I'm not John Mackey, so my food photographs are taken with a camera phone and they are not very good (seriously, how the hell does JM take such good pictures of food? Click on his "Journal/Blog" link and enjoy the deliciousness).

There is nothing like a gorgeous place setting. And this picture shows nothing like a gorgeous place setting. But trust me, that glass plate with the black blossoms was exquisite. (The photos do get a little better after this one.)
Shall we begin with an amuse? Indeed! These are blurry chicken dumplings floating in wild mushroom broth. Pretty simple, but quite delicious--and kind of surprising for summer.
My family and I challenged the sommelier by requesting a "reasonable" wine that works well with seafood (for my mom and my sister) and red meat (for extremely carnivorous Fosco). She was a pro (of course), and came up with a delightful rosé by Clos Saron in the Sierras called "Tickled Pink." I guess there is some sort of stigma attached to rosé, but this was a really good wine for all of our various courses.
First Course. My mom had the Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Corn and Tomatoes. My sister had Sweet White Corn Soup with Corn Truffle Ravioli and Summer Truffles. Fosco had the Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Red Onions and Peaches (pictured below). I think that carmelized red onions are now one of my favorite fruits (they're hiding under that green stuff). And that sweet and savory jus at the bottom of the plate? So delicious. I wanted to lick it up.
Let's take a quick break to note how beautiful my sister looked that night.
Main Course. My sister continued the corn theme (a choice she later regretted, just from the perspective of having too much of one flavor) with the Roast Maine Lobster with Yellow Chanterelle Mushrooms, Corn and Tarragon. Gary Danko is known for his work with lobster and this was really quite thrilling:
My mother had the absolutely beautiful Seared Sea Scallops with Sweet Pea PurÈe, Shimeji Mushrooms, Chorizo and Fava Beans. Look at those scallops! They were so rich and smooth.
I enjoyed the Roasted Loin of Bison with King Trumpet Mushrooms, Onion and Herb Spaetzle. This is one of the three or four most delicious things I've ever eaten. The bison was seasoned so extraordinarily that, just by itself, it would have made the whole meal. But the gorgeous green spaetzle were thrilling as well. This was a hearty dish with surprisingly complex flavors. I could eat it everyday. Bask in its bisonic glory:
I had read that GD's cheese cart is pretty impressive, so I decided to have a cheese course. I made the following four choices (beginning in the upper right corner on the plate below and moving clockwise):

  1. I forget the name of the first cheese, but it was from France, it was creamy, and it contained plums soaked in Armagnac. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.
  2. The delightfully creamy (and buttery) Pave d'Affinois.
  3. The truly exceptional Hook's Cheddar from Wisconsin. Sharp as a blade, baby. I could eat some of this on crackers for lunch most days.
  4. And, for a little bit of adventure, a very smelly Livarot. This is a complex flavor--one that gets up into your sinuses and says "Fuck You!" It was pretty remarkable. However, I couldn't eat this on crackers everyday.

And now we come to the mild disappointment of the evening: dessert. I hate to say it, but the desserts at Gary Danko just weren't up to the standard set by the rest of the food. Not that they were bad; they just weren't very interesting. I had a Chocolate Cherry Napoleon with Pistachio, Black Pepper and Red Wine Ice Cream, which sounds a lot better than it was. It was basically just chocolate and cherry flavors. My mom and sister were similarly unimpressed with their desserts.
Next time, I think I'll just do with cheese for dessert. (Although, perhaps the dessert offerings in other seasons are better.) There was a plate of petits fours, of course, thoughtfully topped with a candle and a chocolate script "Happy Birthday" (to me!). And the "ladies" in my party (which apparently does not include Fosco) were each given a beautifully-wrapped peach upside down cake to enjoy for breakfast the next morning. Luckily, Fosco's sister is allergic to peaches so I could eat hers. Take that, sex-discriminating pastries!

On the whole, dinner at Gary Danko was one of the exceptional meals in my life. The cuisine, the atmosphere, and the service made this a truly extraordinary birthday dinner. Allow me to recommend Gary Danko for your next special occasion.

Fun with Google Ads

Yesterday afternoon, while reading the latest NY Times coverage of the Larry Craig thing, Fosco glanced at the Goodle Adsense Recommendations.

Google claims that

"AdSense for content automatically crawls the content of your pages and delivers ads (you can choose both text or image ads) that are relevant to your audience and your site content—ads so well-matched, in fact, that your readers will actually find them useful."
How can Adsense deal with the whole sordid Craig scandal? Pretty well, it seems:
I think Google is onto something here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

There's Something (Gay) About (Senator) Larry

Yesterday was another bad day for Senator Princess Larry Craig, Idaho's favorite tearoom queen (pictured right with his "longtime cowboy companion" or whoever). As the Times reported, Craig's Republican colleagues are offering their support by calling for his resignation. Oh girl, you are in sooooo much trouble!

But Larry isn't going gently into that good night of out-and-proud homosexuality. According to a statement at the Silver Troll's website, the cause of all this fuss is his hometown paper (haven't you heard of the infamous BLM--Boise Liberal Media?):

"For a moment, I want to put my state of mind into context on June 11. For 8 months leading up to June, my family and I had been relentlessly and viciously harassed by the Idaho Statesman. If you’ve seen today’s paper, you know why. Let me be clear: I am not gay and never have been.

"Still, without a shred of truth or evidence to the contrary, the Statesman has engaged in this witch hunt. In pleading guilty, I overreacted in Minneapolis, because of the stress of the Idaho Statesman’s investigation and the rumors it has fueled around Idaho.
Sigh. Oh Larry... I think there's a little more than a shred of evidence at this point.

Here are three neat things Fosco has discovered in all of this coverage:
  • There is this really cool lesbian State Representative representing Boise. Her name is Nicole LeFavour and she's interested in "open space preservation, human rights, and securing funds for schools and increasing the affordability of health care." Yes! She has a degree in cognitive science from Berkeley. That rocks! If I had to live in Boise, I would totally live in her district. Oh, and she had a great quote about Larry Craig:
    “I’m sorry we don’t live in a world where the senator feels he can be open about his sexual orientation.”
    Right on! Ms. LeFavour, Fosco salutes you.

  • According to the police report from the event (as reported by Roll Call:
    Craig stated “that he has a wide stance when going to the bathroom and that his foot may have touched mine,” the report states.
    Restroom stance, baby. How wide is your restroom stance? Didn't Neneh Cherry sing a song about that once? And like the girl said: "So don't you get fresh with me."

  • In an interview in May with the Idaho Statesman, Larry responded to previous allegations of cruising:
    Another man said that in November 1994 Craig "cruised" him at the REI store in Boise. The man, who is gay, told the Statesman that Craig stared at him in a sexually inviting way and followed him around REI for a half-hour. Said Craig: "Once again, I'm not gay, and I don't cruise, and I don't hit on men. I have no idea how he drew that conclusion. A smile? Here is one thing I do out in public: I make eye contact, I smile at people, they recognize me, they say, ‘Oh, hi, Senator.' Or, ‘Do I know you?'

    "I've been in this business 27 years in the public eye here. I don't go around anywhere hitting on men, and by God, if I did, I wouldn't do it in Boise, Idaho! Jiminy!"
    This quote runneth over with hilarious goodness, but I think my favorite part is when Larry admits that he prefers non-Idaho locations for his cruising. Jiminy!

    Oh, and is that what Larry was doing when he was peeking into the cop's stall? Making eye contact? He's such a friendly man.

The best part of all this: there may still be two closeted Republican senators left!

Pubic Hair: Are You Risking Your Health?

This has been a great week for visitors to Fosco Lives! Here's today's standout:

There are two things you need to notice to enjoy this graphic:

  1. The visitor is from the National Institutes of Health, the "Nation's Medical Research Agency."
  2. The visitor arrived at Fosco Lives! after googling the phrase "is pubic hair making a comeback[?]"
Fosco didn't realize that this question was of such vital importance to our nation's health. Although, purely as a matter of aesthetics, Fosco certainly hopes the answer is "yes." Fosco, like John Mackey, likes it "animal style."

A Fosco Lives! Exclusive: Carrie Underwood Eaten by Shark

It's Shark Week in Santa Cruz. (Although, in Fosco's house, every week is a type of Shark Week--Ace is high, deuce is low. Call them right and win the dough.)

As reported in today's Santa Cruz Sentinel, a Great White shark is back on the prowl near the Santa Cruz coast. As reported in the Sentinel, the twelve-footer mauled a surfer. However, Fosco's sources are telling him that the shark has claimed another victim: American Idol-winner Carrie Underwood.

This is particularly ironic, as Underwood is an extremely sexy vegetarian.

Fosco would like to call on everyone to take a moment tonight to join with your loved ones and sing one of Carrie's hit songs. Like, well... whatever those songs are. Wait, is she the one who sang "Since U Gone Away"? No? Well, how about "She Thinks His Name Was John"? No? Well, who was that?

Well, just say a prayer for Carrie.

Did you know that Fosco's good friend Liz was bitten by a shark? And now she's twice shy.

And in other news, did you know that Fosco was once bitten by Senator Larry Craig? (Guess where that happened... Hint: [flush].)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Senator Craig Likes Bois(e)

I'm not sure there's been a worse-kept secret since power-lesbian Rosie O sang all those awkward "heterosexual" songs about Tom Cruise [shudder], but apparently Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig is gay. Of course, we've all know this since last fall when Senator Craig was outed by blogActive.

Wait, how could Senator Craig (pictured below) be gay? He seems to like cowboys so much!

But now we have some even better evidence: the Craigster was arrested in the restroom at Minneapolis airport for soliciting sex. He pleaded guilty to "disorderly conduct."

Wait, you're telling me that someone who enjoys singing with Paul Shaffer is gay? Maybe it's just a big misunderstanding.

If only. Apparently,

the officer said Mr. Craig had tapped his foot, in what the officer called a known signal to engage in lewd conduct, and had also brushed his foot against the investigator’s and waved his hand under the stall divider several times before the officer showed him his badge. [NYT]
As a long-time homosexual who occasionally hangs out in very gay restrooms, Fosco well knows the mating rituals of the silver troll. I hate to break it to middle America, but Senator Craig wasn't trying to borrow some toilet paper. He wanted to borrow some cock.

If you want some more delicious irony, surf on over to this story on Wonkette to enjoy how Larry Craig supporters, the "Idaho Values Alliance," are so worried about a threat to our families: "Airport restrooms have become so popular that men looking for anonymous sexual trysts with other men have advertised their airport availability on Craigslist." It leads one to wonder if that's Craigslist or Craig's list.

Is Girlfriend Larry going to go all McGreevey on us? (And did Senator Craig kill any teen vagrants?) Fosco had to know, and so he went to the source:

The Automated LarryBot informs me that Senator Craig prioritizes the concerns of Idahoanianists first, but I'll let you know when he gets back to me (I'm sure it will be soon). Of course, if he comes out in his reply it will be another Fosco Lives! Exclusive.

Actually, isn't the real scandal here that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is using undercover cops to entrap lonely homosexuals? There isn't anything else that cops could do at a major international airport? I think the gays should boycott this airport. You with me, gays?

From the Annals of Self-Comparison

What did Fosco do today? Blogged a little, read a bit, watered the flowers on on his balcony...

What did Fosco's college roommate David Lat do today? Well, for one thing, he ended up in a New York Times article...

Although, perhaps Fosco prefers his quiet semi-hermetic existence to pissing off powerful law firms.

The man from Nantucket...

Before this month, Fosco thought he had MTV pegged. After all, we grew up together. We were interested in music around the same time (the 1980s). We both agreed that it was funny when fame-seeking sociopaths slapped each other and smoked cigarettes on top of Mount Everest (the 1990s). Sure, MTV and Fosco grew apart in the 00s, as Fosco gravitated toward critical theory and Victorian novels and MTV became interested in carving transsexual men into J-Lo. But that's okay--sometimes good friend develop different interests and still remain friends.

But recently, Fosco feels like he doesn't even know MTV anymore. First, he finds out that MTV "has an esteemed research pedigree" (!). When did this happen? Has MTV become a sociological powerhouse behind Fosco's back? Is it possible that MTV is secretly a think tank?

And now, believe it or not, a branch of MTV called mtvU has named John Ashbery as MTV's very own poet laureate! Yes, America's most distinguished living poet (sorry, Greg Orr). The NYTimes article notes that

Excerpts of his poems will appear in 18 short promotional spots — like commercials for verse — on the channel and its Web site (, which will also feature the full text of the poems).
According to the Times,
The excerpts were chosen by David Kermani, Mr. Ashbery’s business manager, and two interns and an employee, all in their early 20s, in his office.

“We were just trying to pick lines that were catchy and sort of meaningful in some way, something that would appeal to what we thought younger people would be interested in,” Mr. Kermani said. These young people picked “things that had sort of raunchy references,” he added. “They thought it was sort of a hoot.”
Hmmm. Perhaps after Ashbery, mtvU will branch out into other poets. I think I can help them pick some poets and lines that might resonate with "younger people":
  • Carl Phillips: "The body is not an allegory—it/can't help that it looks like one, any more than/it can avoid not being able to stay" ("Sea Glass").
  • Robert Lowell: "I rub my head and find a turtle shell/stuck on a pole" ("The Neo-Classical Urn").
  • Lawrence Raab: "Sweetheart, put down your flamethrower./You know I always loved you" ("Attack of the Crab Monsters").
  • Andrew Marvell: "Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound/My echoing song; then worms shall try/That long preserv'd virginity" ("To his Coy Mistress").
  • Sylvia Plath: "There's a stake in your fat black heart/And the villagers never liked you./They are dancing and stamping on you" ("Daddy").
  • Allen Ginsberg: "The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!/The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand/and asshole holy!" ("Footnote to Howl").
  • John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: "Nor shall our love-fits, Chloris, be forgot,/When each the well-looked linkboy strove t'enjoy,/And the best kiss was the deciding lot/Whether the boy fucked you, or I the boy" ("The Disabled Debauchee").
Now, in all seriousness... perhaps Fosco is being insufficiently cynical here, but this whole thing doesn't seem like that bad an idea.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fun with Juxtaposed Photos

No Dan Harper column in the Sentinel today... So instead, here's some easy "cheap shot" fun.

I know... It's juvenile... Giggle.