Archive for June, 2014

The Photography of Modernist Cuisine with Nathan Myhrvold

It’s not a surprise that techies and geeks love our food, and the science behind food, the how and why and what if of cooking.

It is a bit of a surprise to find someone who has a gift for cooking and photography with a master’s degree in economics, as well as master’s degrees in geophysics and space physics and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UCLA. Oh, and not only did he do post-doctoral work with Stephen Hawking at Cambridge University researching cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space-time, and quantum theories of gravitation, he served as the chief technology officer for Bill Gates at Microsoft. (This guy’s the geek of geeks).

Meet Nathan Myhrvold

Nathan retired from Microsoft in 1999 to found Intellectual Ventures and pursue several lifelong interests in photography, cooking, and food science. Later he founded The Cooking Lab and published a mammoth 5 volume 2,438 page set of photos and recipes and thoughts on the science of cooking called “Modernist Cuisine” that will knock your socks off. In it you’ll find stunning photography and scientific explanations of the cooking process, techniques and methods to achieve Modernist Cuisine.

But that’s not exactly what this post is about. This is about the show up right now at The Tech Museum of Innovation called The Photography of Modernist Cuisine. This morning I was lucky enough to join Tim Ritchie, president of The Tech Museum of Innovation and Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen (an avid foodie herself) and Nathan Myhrvold who spoke about his work and that passion for understanding food in ways we don’t normally see it.

The exhibit is over 75 large scale images that show us microscopic views of crystals of citric acid and what he calls “exploded parts diagrams” of a mushroom and swiss hamburger that took over 30 hours to prepare and takes after a drawing style popular in technical manuals and also favored by Leonardo Da Vinci.

As you go through the exhibit take time to read the descriptions which share the science but also the methods he use to achieve the shots. What appears to be a simple image on a steak is actually a composed panorama of 1,000 images stitched together to make every single millimeter sharp and clear. Another dish which seems to leap off the wall is uses a technique called “Focus stacking” where software is used to create highly dimensional photos with virtually no depth of field so every element is sharply defined and crisp.

All of the photos in this exhibit give you a new way to look at food. Whether familiar objects like a planted garden or cutaways of common household appliances, constructed images or micro views you’d never see on your own. It’s food porn at it’s finest.

This exhibit is open at The Tech from June 25 to Sept 1 and there are two special “After Hours” events planned. After Hours is the monthly evening event where adults 21 and older enjoy science, technology, entertainment, and cocktails together with their friends, and this summer there will be some special menus and themes designed to coincide with the new exhibit.

Get your tickets here:
July After Hours – Independence Day – Spirit of America
Thursday, July 3, 2014
7 p.m. – midnight

$10 / $5 for members
Buy tickets
August After Hours – Hawaiian Night Luau
Thursday, August 7, 2014
7 p.m. – midnight

$10 / $5 for members
Buy tickets

By the way, look for Modernist Cuisine recipes and videos on the website, you can get an interactive eBook in the Modernist Cuisine at Home App from the iTunes store for free in the Lite Version or buy the full version and learn about the techniques and methods of Modernist Cuisine demonstrated. Learn how to cook salmon sous vide in your kitchen sink!

Foodie Alert- San Jose DishCrawl

If you don’t know about Dishcrawl yet listen up. The idea is simple, find great food and create a convivial atmosphere for foodies to explore local cuisine, meet the chefs and mingle with other foodies. If you’re looking for local food culture, to meet other people interested in food, or to find the best local restaurants, DishCrawl is for you!
DishCrawl San Jose is kicking off the summer tonight (Tuesday June 17) in partnership with the San Jose Downtown Association to offer the “Best of San Jose” Dishcrawl series which will take  you on a culinary journey to three of downtown San Jose’s top spots for food and nightlife. If you can’t make it to tonight’s kick-off, don’t worry, they’ll be crawling at the same 3 delicious spots every Tuesday until the end of August.

In typical Dishcrawl style, not all of the restaurants are announced in advance. We know we’ll be going to Fahrenheit Restaurant and Lounge where guests will be treated to an amazing trio of skirt steak, brussels sprout salad and their famous deviled egg. Fahrenheit combines a farm to table cuisine and some of the freshest produce, meats, seafood from the local organic farms with an amazing lounge setting.

The second stop will be Mezcal. Awarded as 2009’s Downtown’s Best New Restaurant, Chef Octavio Gomez ensures patrons will be ecstatic when they try their mini sea bass ceviche tostada, handmade corn quesadilla, or famous mole negro, a well-kept family recipe. This Oaxacan cuisine will make your taste buds scream for more.

The third and final stop will feature Loft Bar & Bistro where guests will try their, tender boneless teriyaki beef short rib, panko crusted chicken breast and white chocolate crème brulee. Loft combines their great American cuisine menu with their amazing rooftop patio and casual atmosphere.In addition to this inaugural event on Tuesday June 17th which will kick-off the San Jose Downtown Association’s, Dine Downtown Restaurant Week, DishCrawls will be hosting “crawls” on the dates listed below.

   Tuesday, June 24th

Tuesday, July 29th

Tuesday, July 1st

   Tuesday, August 5th

 Tuesday, July 8th

     Tuesday, August 12th

   Tuesday, July 15th

     Tuesday, August 19th

    Tuesday, July 22nd

     Tuesday, August 26th

Reservations are limited, but still being accepted

For more information about upcoming Dishcrawls, check us out at or follow @Dishcrawlsj.

Local Theaters you should give a try

No, the death of the San Jose Repertory Theatre does not mean an absence of theatre in San Jose.  Not only are there more theaters than I can keep up with, they all produce spectacular shows that will amaze you.  In fact, looking at this list you almost wonder how the SJ Rep will be missed (it will).  Take a good look at what is in store for the summer, get some tickets for your family, and maybe even see if your employer might be willing to give a donation to the theatre of your choice.

And if you have any tickets to a canceled SJ Repertory show, almost all of these theaters have expressed an offer to trade your ticket for one of theirs.  If you see something you’d like to attend below, give their office a call and ask.  The theatre world is a community, and they consider their audiences part of the family.

Here, in alphabetical order, are some theaters you should be giving a shot this summer.  This list is by no means complete.  There truly is an endless opportunity for theatre in the South Bay.


Broadway San Jose

Broadway San Jose

Broadway San Jose brings traveling Broadway shows to the area, and they are some of the best musicals you will see in town.  They are always AMAZING.  Jersey Boys begins July 15th, and in August get ready for Wicked!  Obviously you need to get those tickets ASAP.







Children’s Musical Theatre

CMT has a full summer schedule, and never be fooled into thinking this is a “kid” theater.  These are professional productions all the way.  In line this summer are Oklahoma!, Side Show, and Disney’s Jungle Book.  Personally, I think Side Show sounds really interesting and might try to get to it myself.






City Lights Theater Company

CLTC is playing The Language Archive through June 29, and on July 24 get ready for Monty Python’s Spamalot!!

CLTC is a great theater with an abundance of talent.  I know I mentioned the lack of A/C when I was last there, but I have never been uncomfortable there any other time.  Definitely give them a chance, I know you won’t be disappointed!  Again, this is a rare theatre that runs in the black, and it should continue to be supported.






Dragon Productions Theatre Company

Tomorrow is the last night to see Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, and then Take Me Out begins in July.  They recently opened in their brand new theater, which is much larger than their old space and very comfortable.  Redwood City is not far, and this theater is worth the short trip.





At Hillbarn

Hillbarn Theatre

Hillbarn has long been one of my favorite local theaters, even though I have not reviewed there in awhile.  It is in Foster City, but it’s always easy to get there for evening shows because the drive from San Jose has little traffic!  Their musicals are simply the best.  They are on break for the summer, though they do have SummerStage for kids, and on August 28 they return with Funny Girl the musical!!  Let me also state that this theatre has some of the nicest people in the industry working there.




Opera SJ

Opera San Jose

This is the company that taught me opera is fun.  Yes, it is FUN.  And I never would have dreamed the line of friends I have who want to join me at the opera.  My vacation forced me to miss their closing show this year, but I can’t wait until September 6 when Verdi’s Rigoletto begins!  San Jose is truly lucky to have such a treasure trove of talent at Opera SJ, from their performers to their set designers.  I’ll not stop urging you to try the opera until I know for a fact that every single one of you has attended at least one show!





PA Players

Palo Alto Players

I just started attending their performances this year, and they have been some of the most enjoyable shows I have seen, full of some of the best talent.  The Farnsworth Invention is playing now through June 29, and it has already received notice from Aaron Sorkin, the playwright himself.  The PA Players are worth the cost of a subscription.






The Pear

The Pear Avenue Theatre 

Pear Avenue is one of the tiniest theaters I have ever been in, but they show that size does not matter.  Their production of Death of a Salesman was by far one of the best shows I have been to.  On June 20 they begin Pygmalion, and after next season they will be in a brand new theater that will give them even more room.  I am truly excited for them.






Renegade Theatre Experiment

A theatre more people should know and be talking about.  On summer break right now, DO NOT MISS the September World Premiere of Perishable, Keep Refrigerated, written by Redwood City’s own Max Tachis and directed by my favorite theater director Kathleen Normington.  There is one thing you can always count on: when you see a show directed by Kathleen, you will be thinking about it and talking about it for weeks after.




The Stage

San Jose Stage Company

Currently on The Stage is Bonnie & Clyde, and you can’t get much better than that.  Wait, yes you can because it’s a MUSICAL!!  Through July 27.






South Bay Musical Theatre

I have never been to this theatre, but perhaps we should all check it out!   Tonight is their last show for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and September 27 they return with Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate.







Another theater I just started this year, they blew me away with their holiday production of Little Women the musical.  I have seen the most consistently professional and talented performances from this company, and they are currently my number one favorite theatre.  Now playing through June 29, Sondheim’s Marry Me a Little.  Without even seeing it I can tell you it’s a can’t-miss!  And then they immediately begin their next season on July 9 with The Great Pretender.  Always worth a trip to Palo Alto!


City Lights inadvertently presents allegory for the closing of The Rep

Resten (Ben Ortega) and Alta (Deb Anderson) share a moment in City Lights Theater Company's production of "The Language Archive" by Julia Cho. Photo by Mike Ko /

Theater audiences all over the Bay Area went to see fantastic, thoughtful, hysterical, amazing shows and musicals last weekend.  We came home looking forward to seeing the next shows, or acting or producing the next shows, and many of us contemplated our reviews of the weekend.  And then we sat down Monday to do our work.

And at 10:30am we received the press release in our In-Box:

San Jose, CA. June 11, 2014 – San Jose Repertory Theatre announced today that it has ceased operation as of Monday, June 9, 2014. 

This news came as a shock to most, even those of us who had heard whisperings and warnings, I mean it’s THE SAN  JOSE REP, it’s been downtown for over thirty years, well longer than I would bet most of the valley’s employees have lived here.  In Silicon Valley years, The Rep has been here FOREVER.

It was a heart break for me.  I have years of history with The Rep.  I have sat in almost every seat of their audience, I have played in the pit, I have introduced films and interviewed filmmakers and actors on the stage.  I have brought dozens of dates to see shows and had a close group of friends I loved to share tickets with.  I introduced my own children to theater at The Rep, and as adults I am proud to know that they attend theater on their own now, without being dragged by their mother. I have many memories of drunken shenanigans in and around the theater.  The Rep did not always produce my favorite shows, but they were always my favorite theater.

But I had a review to write, one that was very difficult to write for many reasons.  I had heard great things about City Lights Theatre’s production of The Language Archive and had really looked forward to seeing it.  But due to a scheduled vacation, I had to see the Sunday matinee when our temps were in the 90s and the theater had no air conditioning.  It was difficult to connect to the actors because the theater was so uncomfortable.  I was able to pay attention to the show, but in a distracted way, and I could not drum up any excitement except for getting back to my air conditioned car.  This is a terrible scenario in which to review a show fairly.  So I found myself in the position of feeling sort of mediocre about the show, but knowing it was likely only due to one very hot day since my fellow reviewers loved it, and feeling my normal pressure to want to get people to the theater no matter what, now with the added pressure of knowing the biggest theater in town just went bankrupt.

At the same time, feeling like I was in mourning for a lost friend, and trying not to feel anger towards a very wealthy valley who I felt had let the Arts down.

The Language Archive, playing at City Lights through January 29, IS a great show.  It’s about language and relationships and the care needed to keep them alive.  I sat here thinking tonight how the character of Mary treasures her ages old sourdough starter.  She told of how she had to feed it, pay attention to it, never forget about it or take it for granted, so that more warm, nourishing bread could be made from it, and it would never die.  The show is about George, a linguist who documents dying languages.  As stated in the show, any language needs more than one person speaking it in order to survive; if no one cares for them, the languages die.  George’s marriage to Mary needed the attention that the sourdough starter received.  When George could no longer speak the language that Mary needed to hear, the marriage died.

And sitting here thinking about that show I realized this is very much an allegory for the demise of The San Jose Rep, isn’t it.  No theater can survive on ticket sales alone, many don’t realize this.  Theaters require entire communities to not just attend, but to donate.  The San Jose Rep had an operating budget of $5 million.  I don’t have $5 million.  You likely don’t either.  But when you think of all the businesses in San Jose, all the wealthy businesses (who do indeed contribute money to our community), and the wealthy CEOs who live here (and also donate to the community)… Five million dollars seems like it could easily have been covered between allllll the businesses who reside here, don’t you think?  San Jose simply cannot keep crying that no one knows who we are, where we are, that we are not a neighborhood in San Francisco, if we cannot even keep our own local Repertory Theater open.  And like it or not, theater and the Arts really does fall on local businesses to survive, whether we’re talking about San Francisco or New York or a tiny middle America town. Or San Jose.

But the blame cannot just be put on our local businesses.  Theater is a very complicated business, full of catch-22s and the need for good shows that cost money that doesn’t come without big shows that cost money.  Karen D’Souza has written an excellent article for the Mercury News which points to several of the various factors that went into the closing, and wonders if perhaps San Jose isn’t just due for a different sort of Arts environment.  I would never oppose different, as long as the Arts do not die altogether.

But San Jose does have many, many smaller theaters that many locals haven’t even heard of.  City Lights is a great little theater and it somehow operates in the black.  Hopefully that’s not just due to their lack of an air conditioning bill, LOL (I JOKE! I JOKE!).   And they are one of many theaters that not only put on outstanding productions on a regular basis but are accepting tickets to The Rep’s canceled shows for their own shows.  Theater is a community, and they support each other like a family no matter what.  We should try to support them back.  Like sourdough starter, the Arts require all of us to feed it, pay attention to it, never forget about it or take it for granted, so that it will never die.

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