Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Marin Fiesta 2: Tacky Tiki Food Bloggers

We were invited to a second Marin County party within 24 hours, a housewarming for Rob and Debby Morse at their new digs in an early 1960s suburban track house in Terra Linda that was an unpretentious marvel of light and views of the Marin hillsides.

The huge backyard not only has a kidney-shaped lawn in the middle of a collection of wood chips, but also a pear tree so abundant in its bounty that our hosts were overwhelmed.

So they invited a couple of dozen food bloggers and their friends to a "Tacky Tiki Pear Party" to spread the wealth.

The 1960s theme, with the example of the period's exquisitely bad party food and drink thrown down as a gauntlet...

...proved no impediment to the creative foodies...

...as exemplified by the CaliMex classic bean dip made by Anita and Cameron from the "Married...with dinner" blog (click here). Like most of the other chefs, they cheated a bit and instead of everything coming from out of a can, they made it with fresh local ingredients instead.

Our host, Rob Morse, was a daily columnist for the San Francisco Examiner during the years when the paper was actually quite decent (late 1980s-1990s). I know that sounds improbable, but it's true, and Morse's own version of Herb Caen's local gossip column was a kinder, gentler and more thoughtful take on San Francisco. He also didn't kiss the local gentry's asses with quite the undisguised enthusiasm of Caen.

During the sloppy, messy Chronicle and Examiner consolidation about five years ago, Morse was one of the early casualties and he retired from the business with a sense of relief that seems to be growing daily. One of his colleagues, the wonderful writer Carol Ness (in the groovy outfit above) survived the disaster by going from the City Desk to the Food section, where she's been happily esconced ever since.

Our hostess Debby Morse (above on the right) also worked in journalism for decades and retired after a stint working for the San Francisco Examiner during its fairly disastrous Fang Family period. Unlike Rob, who seems to be happy never having to look at a deadline again, Debby started a brilliant, quirky foodblog called "I'm Mad and I Eat" combining occasional political diatribes with paeans to the joys of cooking (click here). The blog has led to the creation of a new social network of fellow food writers such as Bonnie Powell (above on the left) with her food politics blog, "Ethicurian" (click here).

Other members of the network attending were Jen, above, who is an "eat local" advocate who started one of the first food blogs around four years ago called "life begins at 30" (click here)...

...and Catherine Ross with her British vegetarian cooking blog "Albion Cooks" (click here)...

...not to mention (left to right above) Amy Sherman and her "Cooking with Amy" (click here), Shuna Fish Lydon with "Eggbeater" (click here), and the young daddy with his "Sourdough Monkey Wrangler" (click here).

One of the highlights of the party was the early arrival of Dr. Biggles, a legendary Meat Dude with the site called "Meathenge" (click here).

He proceeded to dig a small pit in the lovely kidney lawn and with a couple of small boulders and some applewood charcoal created an instant luau pit. When I asked him if the sod would grow back, his response was, "That's not my problem."

Instead, he spent the afternoon grilling a succession of items, from large chile peppers for bite-sized chunks of chile rellenos...

...to goat, bacon, tritips, and pork. It was an amazing feast.

After too much food and booze, our designated driver gave a ride to Sam Breach (above), who has what is arguably one of the best food blogs in the world, Becks and Posh (click here). Not only can she write and take photographs and design well, but her encyclopedic set of links are pretty much unrivaled. Even though she's getting sick of blogging since she has a serious "real" job to attend to, she's already accomplished quite a lot, as have all the other impassioned "amateur" journalists.


momo said...

A veritable virtual feast of food blogs--many thanks for sharing the party! I remember Rob Morse's writing from when I used to live in the Bay Area.

Sam said...

How nice of you to write us up so flatteringly

Anonymous said...

Brought back memories of the days we lived in San Rafael in the 60s. those Marin Hills are stored in my memory and in some shoeboxes in the closet. got to dig them out. tnak s for the memories.


cookiecrumb said...

Swoon! Makes me wish I could have been there.
I WAS there!
Lovely write-up.

janinsanfran said...

Damn I miss Rob Morse's columns. It was a different world.

Catherine said...

Hey there!

It was a fun afternoon, wasn't it? I enjoyed meeting you. Now I wish I'd taken more pears as we went through ours rather quickly.

And, at least someone got a shot of my makeup matching my shirt!

Let's party again soon,

coasterbrake said...

Whoa. I remember Rob Morse from way back, he was an Orlando Sentinel columnist before his SF gig. Best writer they ever had.

ZapDuff said...

Guess this goes into the Food for Thought category. The link to this page on Blogger from Google offers my best chance yet of getting in touch with Rob Morse... among the few SLA tracker/storytellers still alive. Need to pick his brain about someone who crossed my path at IUB in the early 70's, before moving to the Bay Area. At the risk ruining use of another email address... PLEASE ask him to contact me via ZapDuff at the email service run by the company mentioned above.