California Food San Francisco

Maple Bacon Latte @ Pirate Cat Radio Café


Last night on No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain visited San Francisco.  One of the places he checked out was the Pirate Cat Radio Café in the Mission District, (in)famous for their Maple Bacon Latte ($5).  Joe, Michelle, and I went after work to check it out for ourselves.

The lowdown:

Milk, maple syrup, and concentrated bacon grease.

Mix and foam the previous ingredients together.

Double shot of espresso.

Top with crunchy chewy powdered bacon bits.

Sweet porky caffeinated goodness.  And pure evil.

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The maple bacon latte came with a vegan chocolate truffle, which was covered in a scary, unidentifiable pink powder.  Sort of guilding the lily if I do say so myself.  Perhaps a shot of whiskey in the concoction would have been a better bet.  As Bourdain once said, “vegans are the Hezbollah-like splinter faction of vegetarians.”  Pink powder is a weapon of mass destruction.  But I digress.

Let me just say for the record that I am rabidly pro-pork fat in the most un-kosher/un-halal way possible.  After all, I hail from the pig-loving Pacific island of Taiwan, where a common comfort food from simpler times is a steaming bowl of rice mixed with lard and soy sauce.  Lard runs through my veins.  Liquid pork fat is the lipid love in my beloved Japanese tonkotsu ramen.  Pork and maple syrup is certainly not without precedent; they are all over the pork and maple combo up in Québec.

Back to the matter at hand. The maple bacon latte tasted alright at first.  The mouth-feel was definitely creamier and richer than a normal latte because of the bacon fat.  But as the drink cooled, the bacon grease started to separate and congeal a bit, feeling a bit heavy.

But that part was ok.  My biggest issue was with the smell.  The porky, smokiness smell was more off-putting than the presence of bacon grease in my coffee.  If anything, the bold flavors the maple and the bacon overshadowed the coffee.  More astringent bitterness from the coffee would have balanced some of the cloying sweetness and lipid overload.

My palate was craving something.  Perhaps a bit more saltiness to bring out the flavors.  Or some freshly ground pepper (or something spicy) to tie together the sweetness of the maple with the richness of the bacon.  Or maybe a shot of whiskey to help it all go down.

Needless to say, none of us could finish our drinks, but I guess that’s hardly the point.  If reading Tony’s books and watching his show have taught me anything, it is to go with the flow and take in the local attitude and charm.

I may have enjoyed it more if the weather were colder, or if I were hung over or something.  Hanger helper or breakfast of champions perhaps.  Gut bomb, for sure. But definitely not an ideal after-work-on-a-Tuesday kind of beverage.  But that’s my bad.  We probably should have went for beer (or whiskey) somewhere.

Definitely a worthwhile once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack walking up the hill on my way home.  For sure, there are worse ways to die, but alas, I live to tell the tale.  Despite eating some pineapple to clear my palate, I can still smell swine on my breath three hours later.  Thanks for the thrills Tony!  The LOLs are on us.

T minus 3 days until NYC.

See also: Pirate Cat Radio Café review on UrbanDaddy

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Comments on “In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History”

This past weekend the New York Times published an article called “In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History” by Tamar Lewin.  The article profiles the increasing adoption of digital textbooks by school districts as a way of cutting costs and as a way of updating pedagogical methods in response to technological and social advances.  Lewin reports:

Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.


In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this summer announced an initiative that would replace some high school science and math texts with free, “open source” digital versions.

With California in dire straits, the governor hopes free textbooks could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Among the article’s interviewees is Neeru Khosla, co-founder of the non-profit group CK-12 Foundation, which develops “flexbooks” that can be adapted to state educational standards.  (Khosla has also been featured on OpenEd and on the Creative Commons blog.) Khosla explains the virtues of the flexbooks:

You can use them online, you can download them onto a disk, you can print them, you can customize them, you can embed video. When people get over the mind-set issue, they’ll see that there’s no reason to pay $100 a pop for a textbook, when you can have the content you want free.

The article uses terms like “digital textbooks,” “free courseware,” “open source,” and “open-content,” but what exactly do these terms mean? While there is reference to the adaptability and customization digital texts, the article does not explicitly mention copyright.  While digital delivery of educational materials may solve some of the cost barriers of education, without an explicit understanding of terms like “open” and “free,” legal and social barriers remain.  As far as I am concerned, government-funded “digital textbooks” or “free courseware” should be as free as possible from copyright restrictions (licensed under Creative Commons BY Attribution license, the least restrictive of CC licenses) or in the public domain.  Only then will they be truly available for sharing, collaboration and reuse.  The fact that they are simply “digital” or “available on the Internet” alone is not enough.

The road to a digital future for education is not without its bumps.  Lewin brings up the issue of a the digital divide: “Not every student has access to a computer, a Kindle electronic reader device or a smartphone, and few districts are wealthy enough to provide them. So digital textbooks could widen the gap between rich and poor.”

The increasing adoption of digital textbooks may save on some costs, but will also require additional investment in computer hardware.  But the real issue at stake is not just the economic costs of education, but instead the need to focus on increasing the accessibility of knowledge.  In order for learning resources to be truly accessible, the issue is not just online vs. offline, digital vs. print.  To reach their maximum social and educational potential, learning materials in the digital future  will need to free from excessive copyright constraints (with clear open licensing like CC-BY or public domain declaration) in order to allow teachers and students the maximum freedom to legally share, modify, and improve upon them.

Also check out Jane Park of ccLearn’s post from last September: “Back to School: Open Textbooks Gaining in Popularity.”

Fun Japan Japanese Links translation

Procrastination: is a simple and amusing procrastination tool that demonstrates the hilarious quirkiness of machine translation. Enter an English phrase and TranslationParty will automatically translate it into Japanese, then back into English, then back into Japanese, etc. Until a Zen-like equilibrium is reached…


From Twitter via @myGengo.

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Free the film, Free dolphins

Today, I went to see The Cove, a documentary centering around the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan.  As some reviewers have already said, the movie marries spy-thriller suspense with compelling investigative storytelling.  Because of the Japanese government and whaling interests not wanting the story to get out, the filmmakers had to secretly (and perhaps illegally) document the dolphin slaughter; in my opinion, a heroic act of civil disobedience.  As I learned on the  JET Programme, in Japan it is perhaps easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.  BTW, fellow ITP geeks will love the filmmakers use of hidden cameras designed by Industrial Light and Magic to blend in with the rocks and foliage around the Cove.

I am taking a pledge suggested by the film and now refraining from visiting aquariums and aquatic mammal shows.  I will also be sure to buy dolphin-safe seafood.  Here are some main points of the film:

Creative Writing Pictures Poetry San Francisco

San Francisco Alleyways


Alleyways in the
City of Saint Francis
Hide Victorian houses
California dreaming
Or warehouse walls
Covered in human excrement
Hipsters or homeless
Smoking the dregs of humanity
Oh California
You finally spread
Your golden legs of
Before I leave you