Tag Archives: Noe Valley

Carina Ost: On Course in My Mission Fruition

11 Jul

Photo Credit: Henri Matisse. Nude with Oranges. My favorite painting.

If there is one universal truth that I believe in, it is synchronicity. Last year, when I moved from LA after a good solid year and a half of writing about food and a building a young lifestyle company for foodies I was unsure of my direction, identity, and next steps. My move to San Francisco, mainly Noe Valley, brought me to a colorful sign that read “Ripe Fruit Writing.” Hmm, my new life plan was to be a writer and no longer dreams of being a reality tv star or media mogul. Two of the six new domains that I bought were entitled Ripeness is All dot com and Mission Fruition dot com. “Ripeness is all” was taken from Shakespeare’s King Lear and is often used to stand solo because those three words are the meaning of life for me, even if not Shakespeare’s intention. Ripeness is All was meant to be my personal growth blog and Mission Fruition is where I would try and talk about my main passion: food. I have done a pretty shitty job adding to both but I’ll blame the luck of great jobs and opportunities falling in my lap for that one.

Anyway, back to Ripe Fruit Writing. It was a writing class in my neighborhood where we had a teacher, prompts, notebooks, and pens and took breaks with hot tea and ripe fruit. In other words, it was the perfect class for me and only blocks from my house. One of my prompts that we did was trying to recall our first memory. What do we see when our mind transports us back in time to our youngest self? Supposedly, this is what will follow you for your whole life. For me, I was probably nearly three. I was just out of the bath with my mom and I refused a towel. I was wet and naked and specifically remember wet hair. I am at my grandma’s house. There are only white walls and then large pink and orange artwork of Matisse nudes, musicians playing in New York, and Asian women warriors riding lions that she batiked. My grandma and I both loved fruit but she  loved her fruit very under ripe and ice cold, straight from the fridge. I hated that feeling on my new teeth. She handed me a peach and it was so cold that I held it to my mouth like it was my egg and I was it’s mother. I would patiently wait until it was the appropriate room temperature before I took a bite. I then remember juices running down my face and deeply looking at the colors, the oranges and the reds closer to the pit.

Immediately I can see how this first memory has continued in my life. First, I still take ridiculously long baths and my mom and I normally are simultaneously in the bath in our respective homes when we talk on the phone together.  It is our bonding time. I also get made fun of for not knowing how to dry myself off. I don’t blow dry my hair and barely use a towel. The most comforting thing for me is getting under the covers wet and taking a 10 minute nap after the exhausting bath. Secondly, my grandma’s asethetic is all over my apartment and embedded in my style. Granted, I have a ton of her artwork but even the pieces I choose are very similar. Asian influences with female subjects and reds, pinks, oranges and yellow. Lastly, on to the peach, fruition is my favorite word and has been since I was 12 and fruit follows me in all that I do. When I was in this writing group we read these aloud and my classmates commented on how sensual that was and it was no wonder that writing about food is what brings me the most pleasure.

Which brings me on to me next subject, did I find what I am supposed to be doing? I don’t know yet. However, I do know that the other day I was looking through my closet and stumbled across some old school  papers. Among them was an alphabet book that we had to make. For my subject, I chose food and while flipping through the pages I discovered that I have been writing about food and taking pictures of food for far longer than I ever imagined. I also remembered in Jr. High doing a presentation where you were supposed to teach the class a skill and I did cake decorating. It was a complete and utter diaster, but again food was my beacon.

Anyway, I can’t describe how good it felt to connect the line in the map of my life from the past to the future and realize that there is a reason that I am doing exactly what I have always done and representing the person at my core. I mean, it’s impossible to ever really go off course, at then end of our lives we can clearly see the path and it will make sense but I really felt so lost just a year ago: new career ambitions, new city, new friends, and new life.  My college application essay for undergrad was called “Why I Deserve to Be Like Merv” about Merv Griffin. First, I wanted to own hotel. Later I wanted to be Martha Stewart and made a brand plan that looked identical to hers. Now, I can say that I am paving my own way and it is more true to myself than I could have imagined. As someone who grew up reading nothing but biographies there is something so profoundly liberating about filling up my own pages instead of reading and following along to someone else’s.

Advertisements

Omnivore Books on Food: Just Devour It!

28 Jun

I have now lived in San Francisco for a little over a week. I have been on two dates, tried countless new restaurants, and I have already fallen in love. This isn’t a crush this is a full blown love affair. It all began a few days ago when I was driving to meet someone. Side Note: I am trying so hard to lose my LA car tendencies but it is so hard. I just heard the fact the other day that any place in the city is within two blocks of some kind of public transportation, so my driving is unnecessary and has proved to be dangerous. When you are as big of an eater and shopper as I am and in a new city, every drive is a prowling. I turn my head to one side and then to the other and I forget to look at the road. There is a Thai restaurant to my left and a wine bar to my right. I need to remember these names and yelp them later, they are in my hood and that means they are now mine. On this particular day, I drove past a bookstore that looked adorable. While I was being honked at to do my main job of driving, I registered the words “Books on Food.” I imagined the best. I just discovered an entire bookstore based on food writing, cookbooks, and everything else a gourmand would need. I didn’t know a place like this existed and I was pissed that I didn’t think of this sooner. I had places to go but I made a note to thoroughly investigate later. I kept remembering the time when I was in Europe and I tried Magners (Bulmers in Ireland) for the first time. I was in heaven. That drink was something I never could have imagined and yet it combined all of my favorite things. There was a fruit component, there was alcohol, it was nice and vinegary, and I was able to drink it fast unlike beer. It was a drink that was tailor made for me and something that was impossible to find in any LA bar. However, blocks from my house, at the Valley Tavern in Noe Valley along with bars all over San Francisco it is on draft. I thought that was my favorite thing in Noe Valley and then a better suitor  and  combination came along.

After a night at Bourbon & Branch I had my first San Francisco sleepover. Unfortunately, it was not with a man but perhaps even better it was with my best friend d’Auria. After a night of strong cocktail drinking, I was thrilled that I was waking up next to her. We grabbed bagels (that were boiled and not baked) at Holey Bagel and then as I was going to drive her home without the awkward morning-after-nonsense I asked if I could take her somewhere that looked amazing but I wasn’t sure. She was her normal agreeable self and I drove by memory to the site of my near collision. Ceasar Chavez and Church and there I found Omnivore Books on Food. I was relieved. I wasn’t making it up. It really did exist. I still didn’t know what to expect as I only had a relationship with the sign. As we got to the door we first saw the sign with Oscar the Oyster. d’Auria is big on design and aesthetics and is currently helping me redecorate my life: from my new apartment to my new websites. I knew instantly that if she had all the time and money in the world she would make a bookstore that looks exactly like this.

We were two girls in our version of a candy shop. Bourdain was in front of us and Ruth Reichl to the left of us. There were farm fresh eggs at the counter and a converted meat locker. This old restaurant space seemed like a shrine to all that encompasses food. The woman at the counter was my favorite kind of store owner, she is in her element and she loves what she does. She wasn’t pushy at all and I could see her smile when I talked trash on chefs and food writers. Perhaps I felt too at home here, but this is now my neighborhood and this store held everything that I value: food and words. I asked d’Auria if she could make Indian food because she is a woman that is a Jill of All Trades and she said that she wants to but would rather learn from an expert. Later when we talked to the owner she said, “I heard you mention Indian food and we have one book that is fantastic because it is all built off 5 spices and the author walks you through it.” She knew the whole backstory and I was so captivated by the store she told, I bought the book. I told d’Auria that we would be working through it as soon as my kitchen is unpacked and d’Auria helps build me  a cabinet for my appliances and cookbooks in my kitchen. She easily agreed and we spent the whole car ride marking recipe pages. I will let you all know how the Indian cooking goes.

So that is it, this is my love story. I love Omnivore and can’t wait to devour more of it. Like any good love affair, I am getting so excited about being able to introduce this place to my family and friends. The owner gave me great restaurant and book recommendations but, perhaps more importantly, she also gave me a place that I naively feel was made for me. I know this sounds corny (I can even make that punny) but this little place showed me that Noe Valley is my neighborhood and home. Finding this gem was more significant and grounding then my new mailing addresss and apartment keys. Anyway, I will gladly take you here at any point and don’t forget to check out their awesome events. I am most excited about Frank Bruni on July 25th. In it’s perfect omnivorous fashion you can find new, vintage, and signed books throughout the store.

3885A Ceasar Chavez St
San Francisco, CA 94131
Neighborhood: Noe Valley

(415) 282-4712

www.omnivorebooks.com