The Lucky Pig

Nov 18, 2012 | One Comment

If you ever find yourself up in Calistoga, get thee to Solbar and order the Lucky Pig post-haste! You’ll be rewarded with slow-cooked pork shoulder accompanied by all manner of toppings and accoutrements. You can use a butter lettuce leaf or black sesame crepe to wrap everything up into one delicious package.

The recipe is posted online, but alas, it’s for 16 servings! Below is my adaptation that will serve 4-6.

Photo by Monica Renner

The Lucky Pig, Adapted from chef Brandon Sharp of Solbar – Calistoga, CA

6 lbs pork shoulder
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
6 cloves unpeeled garlic
bunch fresh thyme

Sesame Crepes: 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
3/4 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon sesame oil
5 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

Pickled Pineapple:
3 cups water
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
5 cups brown sugar
1/8 cup salt
1/8 cup cloves
1/8 cup Szechuan peppercorns
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Juice of 3 limes
2 pineapples, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Mongolian Peanuts:
6 pods star anise, in a sachet
2 pounds raw red-skin peanuts
Kosher salt to season
Korean red pepper to season
Enough water to cover peanuts

Butter lettuce leaves
Sesame crepes

Chopped scallions
Lime wedges
Jalapeño slices
Fresh basil, cilantro, and mint leaves
Peanut Sauce


Pork shoulder prep: 

  1. Cut into 2-pound rectangular pieces.
  2. Score the fat in a crosshatch manner.
  3. Season liberally with salt and black pepper.
  4. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 5-8 hours.

Cooking the pork shoulder: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
  2. Sear the roasts, fat-side first, until well-browned on all sides.
  3. Place pork in large roasting pan, fat-side up.
  4. Add the garlic and thyme, and cover with foil or a metal lid.
  5. Transfer to the oven and roast for 5 hours or more.
  6. Pork should be super tender and pull apart easily with a fork.

Black sesame crepes: 

  1. Combine the flours, salt, butter, sesame oil, eggs, and milk.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Stir in the sesame seeds.
  4. Let batter rest for about 8 hours before making crepes.

Pickled pineapple: 

  1. Put the water, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, salt, cloves, Szechuan peppercorns, and vanilla seeds in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Place pineapple in large container, and pour pickling liquid over pineapple.
  4. Add lime juice.
  5. Pineapple slices should be completely submerged in the pickling liquid.
  6. Refrigerate for about 8 hours.

Mongolian peanuts: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Bring the water and star anise to a boil and cook for five minutes.
  3. Add the peanuts, cover, and boil for 7 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat and let steep for 10 minutes.
  5. Drain peanuts and spread on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Roast, turning twice, for 30 minutes,
  7. Let cool.
  8. Fry the peanuts for 4 to 5 minutes or until crunchy.
  9. Season with salt and Korean red pepper.
  10. Set aside to cool.

Last steps:

  1. Cook crepes.
  2. Garnish pork with scallions.

Lucky Pig: Assemble!

Take a butter lettuce leaf or crepe and add pork, pineapple, peanuts, and any other topping you desire. C’est délicieux!

Vogue 1321: Donna Karan Misses’ Coat

Nov 17, 2012 | No Comments

After months of work this coat is finally done.. Vogue 1321 was a huge project with many challenges. Between muslin-making, finding the right fabric, lining and finishing touches I was worried it would be spring before this was finished.

Luckily, everything came together in a semi-legit fashion:

Almost all seams in 1321 are lapped (the raw edge of the overlapping seam is exposed), so any fabric that frays will not work. The recommended fabrics were boiled wool or lightweight melton – both expensive and hard to find. After searching the cheaper fabric stores around town, I finally broke down and went to Britex. They had a decent selection of fabrics that would work, although most were dark, fall colors. I went with a grey-brown Italian wool. If I made this again, I would probably just use regular seams and expand my fabric possibilities.

Lining was a pain. Boiled wool and lightweight melton are not fabrics that easily slide on and off. Although the pattern did not include any lining (except for the pockets) I decided to go for it anyway. This resulted in much agony and frustration while trying to figure out how to attach it, but ultimately I think it was worth it.

This coat is described as “very loose-fitting” – they’re not kidding. I probably would have gone with a size smaller had I known just *how* loose it would be. Vogue pattern sizes are notoriously large. Although it looks great belted, it starts looking like a graduation gown or monk’s robe when it’s hanging loose.

Pattern photos:

Vogue V8766 + Anthropologie’s “Open-Air Theater Dress”

Aug 31, 2012 | No Comments

For this dress I ended up modifying the original pattern slightly, and adding some decorative elements on the bodice.  V8766 by Vogue is a classic bodice + skirt in a handful of variations.  I choose to go with “F”, a shorter skirt with long sleeves. Anthropologie’s “Open-Air Theater Dress” is similar in shape to V8766, and has a fantastic ornamental design on the front.

The “Open-Air Theater Dress”:

Vogue V8766:

Alterations: Besides decorating the bodice, the two main changes I made were shortening both the sleeve and skirt length. The long sleeves plus longish skirt make this dress look a little too matronly.

Strawberry Pretzel Dreams

Aug 24, 2012 | No Comments

Courtesy of the Garden Creamery food truck at Soma StrEat Food Park.

Pickathon memories

Jun 18, 2012 | No Comments

Just found this on the Pickathon homepage:

Midweek Playlist: 5/2/12

May 2, 2012 | No Comments

Two in a row, baby

    1. Michael Kiwanuka – “They Say I’m Doing Just Fine”
    2. Deer Tick – “Born At Zero”
    3. Sonny & The Sunsets – “Pretend You Love Me”
    4. Diamond Rugs – “Country Mile”
    5. Lower Dens – “Propagation”
    6. Little Feat – “Willin”
    7. The Laurels – “Tidal Wave”
    8. Purity Ring – “Obedear”
    9. Nite Jewel – “One Second Of Love”
    10. Marie-Pierre Arthur – “Fil De Soie” 
    11. Saukrates – “Doorite (ft. Nickelus F & K-Os)”
    12. John Southworth Andrew Downing – “Nip It In The Bud” 

Écoutez et répétez:


Show Review: Coldplay at HP Pavilion, San Jose, 4/28/12

Apr 30, 2012 | One Comment


Apparently it’s not cool to like Coldplay anymore because your mom’s discovered them. (Edit: actually, looking back, was it ever cool?) But hey – that’s OK! If you stopped liking all the bands your parents are into, that could eliminate some real gems. The Beatles, James Brown, Celine Dion… The point is, there’s no shame in going to see a super mainstream band at a big arena show. The lights! The confetti! The beach balls! What?

Coldplay’s brand of pop-rock is a guilty pleasure meant for stadiums, overpriced beer and excessive fandom. HELLO HP Pavilion! The band bursted with enthusiasm and gratitude, playing their hits and a most of Mylo Xyloto. Openers The Pierces and Metronomy were predictably safe, boring and inoffensive.

It’s always moderately to severely annoying when an entire crowd sings along during a show, but there’s something endearing about Coldplay fans. The emotion was so thick! Don’t even pretend like you wouldn’t sing along/cry through “Yellow”.

Between the fake last song and the beginning of the encore, the band teleported to a small stage in the middle of the audience to play a few songs, before sprinting back to the main stage for the finale. (Side note: They ran right by us! I think I touched Will Champion with my sweaty paw… Sorry, I thought we were all high-fiving.)

Overall super entertaining, worth the price of admission. Just be careful which friends you brag to about your VIP pass.

Oh yeah we wore these cool light up bracelets.


I looked for Gwyn/Apple/Moses but I think they were at the Giants game.

Confetti is fun!

Set list:

1. Mylo Xyloto
2. Hurts Like Heaven
3. In My Place
4. Major Minus
5. Loves In Japan

6. The Scientist
7. Yellow
8. Violet Hill
9. God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
10. Princess Of China
11. Up In Flames
12. Warning Sign
13. Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
14. Viva La Vida
15. Charlie Brown
16. Paradise


17. Us Against The World
18. Clocks
19. Fix You
20. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall



Summer salad

Apr 30, 2012 | No Comments

  • Butter lettuce
  • Chicken
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Tomatoes 
  • Pine nuts 
  • Kale
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado