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Sweet Seattle

jason

I'll admit I have a little weakness. Although I don't really appreciate the hyper-sweetened desserts ubiquitous in the United States, I'm a pushover for a nice pastry, lightly sweetened cheesecake, or torte.

This list includes a lot of Asian style pastry shops because even in the U.S., these shops tend to use a lighter hand with sugar and sell more sane portion sizes, so that I don't feel I'm risking a heart attack every time I'm eating.

Hiroki. Hiroki Inouye makes a beautiful matcha tiramisu, which is served in the style of a cake, made with Japanese green tea. Other great things you might find here are include an Earl Grey cheesecake, and, on occasion, a mont blanc-style chestnut pastry. It reminds me of the French-ish cake shops I found in Japan, with slightly larger portion sizes and perhaps a slightly more European flavor. The good thing is that he tends to avoid the hyper-sweet exaggerations that are common in American style cakes, in favor of clean, refreshing flavors. 2224 North 56th Street, Seattle, WA. (206) 547-4128. Open Wednesday-Sunday.

Cafe Besalu. You need to come here for a light weekend brunch. Order a slice of quiche and a brioche, or one of their fantastically flaky croissants. They have sweet pastries and not-so-sweet, and they make espresso drinks using Lighthouse Coffee (based in Fremont; see also my Coffee in Seattle notes). You're probably craving sweets, so order an orange brioche or one of their strawberry danishes. If you're having a simple afternoon espresso, they also have a nice selection of cookies to accompany it, but get there before 3pm. Keep in mind this is really a daytime place and they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. If you're up for something savory, the word is that the first quiche of the day comes out at about 10:30 am. 5909 24th Ave NW. Phone 789-1463.

Fresh Flours. Think standard coffee shop fare with a Japanese approach. Keiji Minematsu produces freshly-made scones, muffins, slices of pound cake, and little cookies; in theory, you could find such items anywhere, but not likely made like this. Don't expect to find a replica of a Japanese style bakery, but you will find Japanese accents, such as a satsumaimo (sweet potato) tart, a kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) muffin,  Parisian-style macarons flavored with matcha (ground tea ceremony tea), black sesame seed cookies, and azuki-cream filled brioche. Sugar is used in judicious moderation. Countertops and some of the seating area are made from a reclaimed bowling alley. 6015 Phinney Ave N. Phone (206) 790-6296. Full Disclosure: Fresh flours is a customer of mine; accordingly, I've tried to be more descriptive here than evaluative. Added 7/21/2005.

Le Fournil. Some people are convinced that the best croissant in Seattle is found here. I don't have much cause to disagree with them. They have a nice lemon pastry made with the same laminated dough used for croissants, they have amandine, and a huge selection of French-style cakes. As for the atmosphere, you'll feel like you're in any of a number of counter-service coffee shops in Seattle; a little sterile, but the new digs about two doors down from their original location are a little bit hipper than before. 3230 Eastlake Ave E #A, Seattle, WA. Phone (206) 328-6523. Parking in building.

Belle Pastry. Old Bellevue, the area on Main Street west of Bellevue Way, had been a sleepy business district for the last several years, but things have been looking up recently. Fran's chocolates moved their Bellevue store to this area, another entrepreneurial chocolate maker opened its doors, and Belle Pastry replaced a wedding cake company here. The French owner of Belle Pastry offers probably the best Eastside options for European-style cakes and pastries. For the most part, he avoids a heavy hand with the sugar, though most options are sweeter than what Hiroki makes. Keep in mind the hours are also very old Bellevue. 10246-A Main Street, Bellevue, WA. Phone (425) 289-0015.

Fran's Chocolates. Fran's produces some of the nicest chocolates in Seattle. The stores are really retail shops, not cafes, so you're coming here on a mission. You want one of the hazelnut stuffed figs or maybe the gray-salt topped chocolate caramels. They have two bittersweet filled chocolates which are perfect if you like chocolate more than sugar. I've been nibbling on their chocolate covered cocoa nibs recently, and it's a good thing I buy small containers or I might not be able to stop. University Village in Seattle or on Main Street in Old Bellevue.

Regent Cafe Bakery. If you happen to be in the Overlake area of Bellevue, not far from Microsoft or Sears, this Taiwanese-style cake shop and bakery offers a pleasant strawberry mousse cake, a Chinese-American take on Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cherry cake), and various sugary breads. 15159 NE 24th Redmond, WA. Phone 425 378-1498.

Sweet & Fresh Bakery. I used to come to this place promptly at 9:30 am when working at a newspaper which was a couple blocks down the street, then buy an inexpensive croissant right out of the oven. At other times, this place offers sweet Hong Kong style breads. I get the feeling the owners are not the same as 10 years ago, but it's still pleasant enough. 610 8th Ave. S., Seattle 98104.

Seabell Bakery. Seabell offers Japanese-style breads like an-pan (sweet azuki bean stuffed bread), uguisu (sweet mung bean stuffed bread), cream pan, mocha pan, and so on. It's not open on Sundays, so if you want a weekend fix, pop in on a Saturday. 12816 SE 38th
Bellevue, WA  98006. Phone (425) 644-2616.

Cake Fuji. Cake Fuji isn't anything like Fuji-ya, the legendary cake shop in Tokyo whose name Cake Fuji references, but it does have a good selection of Japanese style cakes, like a matcha mousse cake (green tea mousse cake) and a strawberry cake. As I recall, the portion size of a single slice of cake is just about right for one healthy adult; you will see none of the gut-busting exaggerations that you might find at a typical US cake shop. No atmosphere, limited hours, average quality, but sometimes I need a matcha mousse cake. 1502 145th Pl SE Bellevue, WA  98005. Phone (425) 641-3889.

Dilettante. The Broadway location of Dilettante is a full-service cafe featuring cakes, “grown up“ milkshakes made with spirits, espresso drinks, and various other desserts in addition to their signature chocolate lineup. For best results, stick with things made with chocolate, though some people enjoy their fruit parfaits. Non-chocolate cakes tend to be a little heavy on sugar for my taste, and I can't quite handle the sugar level in their “hot schmocha“ (peppermint schnapps mocha), but there are some things worth coming for. The Rigo Jansci is pretty nice, but make sure to eat light before coming in or plan to share with someone. Alternatively, order a plate with six filled chocolates of your choice and overindulge with an intimate friend. 416 Broadway East, Seattle, WA 98102. Phone (206) 329-6463.

B&O Espresso has two locations, but the one with more sweets to choose from is at the intersection of Belmont and Olive on Capitol Hill. It's one of the few full-service coffee shops in Seattle, and the atmosphere is sort of diner-like but with better food (at least at dinner time). Most of the sweets are very American and accordingly quite sweet, but you'll get nice results by ordering one of the Greek specialties in the evening. I am fond of the Greek style “pudding” in filo pastry. 204 Belmont Ave. E, Seattle, WA. Phone (206) 322-5028.

Departed:

Masalisa. (Closed May 29, 2005; sold to new owners, Floating Leaves Tea, using Macrina products). Masalisa is first and foremost a tea shop, but if you're craving Japanese-style cream roll cakes, with matcha (green tea flavor), mocha flavor, or any of several occasional varieties, this is a great option. You'll even find a few Japanese sweets from time to time (zenzai or oshiroko, sweetened azuki bean soup) and a selection of homemade cookies. Masalisa has a pleasant atmosphere for sitting and chatting. 2213 NW Market Street Seattle, WA 98107. Full Disclosure Notice: This comment was written about a year ago, but I've since established a business relationship with the owners of Masalisa involving selling their tea products online and at wholesale.

Working on sales

jason

The last few days I've been meeting people who are either potential customers or have some useful contacts for doing sales. I'm encouraged, though it's still going to be a lot of work to get the kind of volume I need in order to make a living.

I also talked to a banker who was encouraging about the prospects for my products and may even have some useful contacts for me. I still haven't picked which bank to go with, but I'm starting to feel inclined to have a small local bank on my side for keeping most of my money plus an account at a big bank for handling credit card transactions and international wire transfers.

Today I even got contact information for a buyer at a pretty significant department store, and someone at a smaller group of stores around here that tends to do specialty stuff. In both cases, it was just due to chatting with some employee at the store that I was snooping around in. It's not a sale, but it's a more direct route to people that make buying decisions than I expected I'd need.

Of course, it would have been sensible to get customers lined up before I made this leap. But there is a kind of thrill in doing it the hard way :)

One thing I'm a little embarrassed about is my product samples presentation... I really need something better than a cardboard box filled with an assortment of things when I start presenting to customers that are strangers to me... so I started hunting for something that will work better as a samples case.

I ate a dosa today at a South Indian restaurant in Bellevue for dinner. I need to avoid spending money at restaurants right now, but it was a kind of business meeting. Other good stuff I acquired this week include a cheese with embedded lavender and fennel made by Quillisascut. I love those guys. I've been eating simple stuff this week but I haven't completely gotten out of the habit of buying good ingredients... I may have to be more parsimonious if I don't manage to make a few good sales in the near future, though.

One pint lighter, bank hunting, bad pottery day, exit interview

jason

On the night of my last day at Microsoft, April 15, I didn't really start working until I got home. I had to finish up a business proposal to one of the companies I want to work with, and there was a lot more work left than I remembered. I was up until about 3 AM focusing on that.

Saturday and Sunday I jogged in incredibly good weather around Greenlake... I also made some plates at pottery lab on Sunday.

Today I went to the North Seattle branch of Puget Sound Blood Center for the first time. I've usually donated at the Bellevue location, which was across the street from my old apartment, or at the mobile donation bus that came to Microsoft every couple of months.

I also had to go bank hunting. I have been operating from my personal account, and that's very confusing and also not good to do since I'm organized as an LLC. I wish I had this figured out 6 weeks ago... talking to banks and trying to make sense of their fee structures, especially when my stuff will involve international wire transfers and so on, is not the most entertaining part of this job.

Actually, I did start developing a lead for one or two products I want to sell when I stopped to get some tea. It would be small volume but potentially a good thing.

In the late afternoon I went back to Redmond to do my exit interview with an HR person. I played nicely... and turned in my cardkey, parking pass, corporate card and all of that stuff.

Somehow I had a series of disasters at pottery class tonight... I guess my hands weren't steady enough or something... I kept on ruining simple cylinders. At least I was able to finish up some pots that I had started last week.

Ex-MSFT: People who moved on to pursue their passions

jason

People who give up the security of their job to do something crazy, risky, fun, or beneficial to humanity are inspirational to me. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one. I'll be posting others here as I discover them.

Jean-Philippe Soulé quit Microsoft and started traveling in Asia, teaching, plotting adventure expeditions, and taking photographs.

Cameron Beccario was a Visual Basic developer who left Microsoft to study Japanese.

Patrick Jennings left Microsoft on April Fool's Day, 1994, and travels, occasionally writes code, and writes about his adventures and thoughts on his blogs/ejournals. He's been known to bicycle across China, run off to Thailand, follow Route 66, and trek across remote regions of British Columbia.

Pursuing my passions

jason

After years of working a well-paid, challenging, and ostensibly prestigious job which was often interesting, occasionally satisfying, but rarely fulfilling, I’ve decided to move on.

I have three obsessions that I’ve indulged outside of work for the last 7 years or so. One is an uncompromising passion for cooking and eating good food. Another is a love of travel. And third is a wallet-thinning habit of collecting Japanese and Korean ceramics and craftwork. Beyond that, I have a long-neglected impulse to write and create, which, most likely due to excessive comfort over these 7 years, rather than inadequate time, I have mostly failed to pursue and develop.

My goal over the next few years is to explore each of these passions with an eye for making a reasonable living doing the things I love the most.

This is a life-altering transformation. My job at Microsoft, working as a test lead in software internationalization, has allowed me to live comfortably while I regularly invested at least 20% of my income. Now, for the first time in years, I expect many months during which I’ll be slowly eating away at my reserves.

My plan for the next year is to take advantage of my safety net while taking a lot of personal risks. I've established a small business entity focused on importing foods, gifts, and other things that I am excited about.

I’ll travel, but with the objective of generating some kind of return from each trip, either in a financial sense or in the sense of personal growth. I'll be exploiting my ceramics obsession by buying ceramics and craftwork, but with the intent of using my eye to bring back items that could be introduced to the U.S. market for resale. I’ll also at least occasionally be working in restaurants as a cook and waiter and whatever else will teach me what it will take to make a successful business serving food. I expect that I’ll create some opportunities to write and to create again. Within a few years I intend to have established enough of a network to be ready to start a small café/restaurant, and on the way, I will focus on building up my import/export business.

This journal is the document of my transformation.

At least once a week, I’ll be telling part of my story. I intend to be pathologically honest, but I promise to do my best to avoid sentimentality, wistfulness, or excessive self-indulgence. I don’t promise to be authoritative, profound, or even important. But I do promise, more than anything else, to live.

Coffee in Seattle

jason

Coffee is an intensely personal beverage. Everyone has a distinctive story about how they were introduced to the pleasures (or displeasure) of coffee.

I didn't really enjoy coffee until I started to experience good quality coffee. In college I experimented occasionally with aromatized coffees (which I won't touch now), organic Kona, Starbucks, and so on; I used to brew coffee in a cafetiere in my dorm room, and usually beat the quality of what I could find at shops in the rural town where I studied. I've become demanding, but for me, the essentials are: freshly roasted beans, an appropriate roast for the drink in question, and quality of control over the brewing/espressing process. Producers of coffee always emphasize how important the beans are, which is true, but overstated in the present market; in the specialty coffee market, the beans are almost always decent quality in the green state; it's mostly a question of the roast and the actual production. I'm even happy with better-quality robusta beans in blends, which U.S. producers turn their nose up at, but which Italians rely on for extra crema; Vietnamese coffee, too, generally uses some robusta beans.

Recommended

Vivace's Roasteria (Broadway & Denny Way) and the red-awning covered sidewalk bar down the street are the understated stars of the Seattle espresso scene. When it comes to pouring espresso, David Schomer has the greatest obsession for detail of anyone in Seattle and probably nearly anywhere else. Here, you will find no 24-ounce gut-busting monstrosities of milk with incidental discoloration from charred beans. You'll find short and tall options for milky drinks made with their Seattle-style Vita blend, and you'll get a different, more mellow northern-Italian style "Dolce" blend for straight or sugared espresso. Both are made to exacting specifications with beans that were roasted probably no more than 3 days ago, with hyper-modified espresso machines that, while still operated manually, have modified boilers and thermostats that precisely regulate the temperature to +/- 0.2°F (0.1°C). Vivace's roasts are more complex than what you would find at Starbucks or other chain stores, mostly because of the freshness  and particularly because the roasts are not overwhelmingly carbon-like. The freshness of the beans, which are ground to order, and the temperature control, manifest themselves as a flawless cup of espresso with beautiful crema; should you be inclined to order a milky drink, the presentation features a trademark milk-foam rosetta which may appear as a leaf pattern, a spade, a heart, or other shape depending on the whim of the barista, and is created solely through careful pouring of the milk foam. Schomer's mission is to make espresso taste as good as it smells, and by putting his disciples through a vigorous training regimen, maintaining careful technical controls, and constantly working on new methods of refining the minutiae of the lifecycle of coffee, Schomer has made Vivace's the gold standard for espresso.

Victrola. 411 15th Avenue East, Seattle. I don't live anywhere near this part of Capitol Hill, but the atmosphere in Victrola, combined with the quite respectable coffee, draw me in when I'm in the neighborhood. One of my customers in Phinney Ridge, Fresh Flours, uses their beans with great aplomb, so I no longer need to trek too far from my Fremont home to get it. And they blog!

Icon Coffee. 43rd & Fremont, Seattle. My preferred standby, mostly because it's very professionally made and it's in my 'hood. All organic coffee from Fiori (Vita), made smartly and with above average service.

Caffe Ladro (various locations in Seattle). Nearly every time I find myself in Caffe Ladro, I am lured by the Medici, a mocha enhanced with some freshly-cut zest of orange. It's certainly not their invention, but they do it well, and they are one of the few places to find the drink in Seattle. Ladro serves shade-grown, organic coffee, and the quality is above average and the attention to detail (milk foam patterns, ground-to-order beans) is nearly on par with Vivace's, without as much visible affectation of the obsession for engineering precision.

Uptown Espresso now has various locations, but I've been to the one in Queen Anne, and of late, nearly weekly at their Belltown shop. I have limited experience with the coffee here, but the latte is nice. Their signature feature is a particularly velvety foam. The roast is a little dark, so straight espresso is a bit more bitter than at other places.

Dilettante on Broadway (only this location) is a chocolatier. The espresso quality itself doesn't stand out in any particular way, but is quite respectable and provides the perfect foil for Dilettante's signature Ephemere truffle sauce, and accordingly, some of the nicest mochas in town. For the over-21 crowd, you may also go for the hot "schmocha", a mocha with the  Ephemere truffle sauce and a respectable dose of peppermint schnapps. The schmocha is too sweet for me, but they also have a milkshake version if you'd like to have coffee in your dessert.

Victor's Coffee (downtown Redmond) also roasts its own beans, and has as its signature style a deeply roasted blend which, while not quite charred like most of the chain brews, is more aggressive than the Vivace's style roast. The mostly-wood interior features old church pews and sturdy wood chairs and tables. The crowd is young suburban kids, high-tech workers, and the occasional grandmother; accordingly, the signature drinks tend to be sugary syrup-based flavored lattes. The Irish Nudge, Mandarin Mocha, and the Roca Mocha are worth trying, but I recommend ordering any of the above "light on the sweet stuff." It's open later than most independent coffee shops on the east side (until about 10pm on weekends).

Lighthouse Cafe in Fremont (43rd & Phinney). Somehow, the coffee tastes a little different every time I come here. sometimes the roast brings out a lovely caramel aroma, other times it's a little more bitter. It is, however, nearly always good; I've only had one bad coffee here. I live nearly next door, so if you're in the neighborhood, buzz me and I might join you for your buzz.

Decent

Caffe Coccinella in downtown Bellevue, on 10th Ave. between 102nd and Bellevue Way, uses Vivace's Caffe Vita blend. The atmosphere is surprisingly pleasant, considering the location is in a neighborhood otherwise full of bland corporate concepts. Free wireless internet makes this an essential downtown Bellevue stop when I'm doing some work on the Eastside.

Zoka near Greenlake has good enough espresso drinks, and a pleasant atmosphere. If you're in the neighborhood, it's worth stopping by.

Triple J Cafe (Kirkland) has the art of inoffensiveness down; I remember having a decent latte or two here. It's also a cute little place to sit down and relax.

Should you find yourself in the mood for corporate coffee, Torrefazione is one of the better chain-style coffee shops. It's now a wholly owned subsidiary of Starbucks, purchased from the franchising conglomerate AEC Enterprises in 2003. Alas, it's on the chopping block, as it was only moderately profitable, not spectacularly profitable, as

Not Recommended

I've encountered a series of places with metallic tasting espresso, most likely due to inadequately cleaned equipment. Still Life in Fremont. If it was just a question of atmosphere, I would wholeheartedly endorse the comfy environs of Still Life. (Still Life has recently closed and opened under another name, apparently under the ownership of the person who bought the place about 2 years ago; noted 19 May 2004). I would definitely go there for food or maybe pastries. But the espresso drinks in my experience were metallic tasting or unpleasantly bitter, suggesting that they don't take care of their equipment very well. I had the same problem at Uncle Elizabeth's (First Hill). I sampled a passable drip coffee here once, but Uncle Elizabeth's needs to aggressively clean their espresso machines.

Tully's. The "Charbucks" moniker serves Tully's even better than it does the ubiquitous company it was meant to slam. I can't figure out the appeal of Tully's, but the shops are usually strategically located next to other Starbucks locations, so one can tell their real estate and facilities planning team is reasonably good at following someone else's lead.

Wind and rain blow me away

jason

My work is almost finished at Microsoft, so I'm starting to feel some sense of accomplishment.

After work I decided to go jogging at Greenlake for a little bit. I wanted to run a single lap and walk another lap. Unfortunately, the weather turned after I started my walking lap... it became progressively windier and some rain came pouring down... I wasn't anticipating that, so my shorts and t-shirt were not the most comfortable attire for the job. I decided to jog as much of the second lap as I could handle, and I don't think I've done that kind of speed in a long time. The squall did die down after about ten minutes or so, so I was able to slow down again and not ruin my knee.

I guess I should get some gear suited for wet jogging... I won't have a gym membership for a while after I leave Microsoft...

Business partner?

jason

I spent a few hours today talking to someone I met at the party last week who has a great marketing and business development background in Japan. I think she could be very useful doing sales, marketing, and some logistics stuff. Although there are some complications that I'll have to figure out, I think we will find a way of working together in my import/export company.

We both ordered quiche and coffee at Cafe Besalu for brunch, and later continued the conversation at Hiroki. Besalu makes excellent brioche and pastry, and I like going there on weekends to get brunch... It's just a bustling, tiny, intimate space with a good set of basics. They serve Lighthouse Coffee, Tall Grass Bakery bread, and their own homemade pastries and quiches. Hiroki, on Greenlake, is a bakery run by Hiroki Inoue, a Japanese guy whose signature cake is a "green tea tiramisu." He does a lot of other interesting sweets also, sometimes with a Japanese touch and sometimes with a more French style, though all with slightly American proportions. He seems to avoid overdoing the sugar, which I truly appreciate. This time I had an "Earl Grey" cheesecake and the woman I was meeting with ordered a Grand Marnier mousse cake. Good stuff.

The weather was pretty hot but I went jogging a couple of laps around Greenlake anyway. My endurance seems to be getting better these days... I'm trying to avoid re-injuring my left knee, though, so I'll mellow out on the distance for a few days.

Goodbye, Lenin

jason

I watched Goodbye, Lenin tonight, which is a clever German movie that creates a virtuous Rip van Winkle and uses the fall of the Berlin Wall as the revolution the heroine, Katrin Saß, sleeps through. Of course, the twist is that she falls into a coma after a heart attack and the doctor doesn't want to risk shocking her with the news; it could be a sitcom plot if it was written for a laugh track. Unlike the Rip van Winkle story, it's no parable about drinking too much... It is a German movie.

I really haven't gone out to the cinema to see many movies in the last six months or so, so this was a pleasant diversion. My memories of East German architecture circa 1992 and 1994 all came back to me. I thought it was a clever idea, and it was pleasant to see a "lost time" plot this advanced that didn't have to resort to gimmicks like time machines or cryogenics. OK, I guess a coma is a bit of a gimmick, too.

Another thing I haven't done anytime recently is visit the Seven Gables cinema in the University District. It's a pleasantly old-school cinema with interior details you just don't find in corporate megaplexes. I feel rewarded... This place has been so close to closing permanently several times over the last few years or so, but it really deserves an audience.

Korean class is hard

jason

Since March last year, I've been taking Korean classes. I started taking pottery class as work got more frustrating, and then I remembered an ambition I once had in college of being capable of communicating in a certain number of languages by the time I am 35 or so. So far, I speak English reasonably well for someone who spent seven years at a software company, my German is still passable, and my Japanese only embarrasses me every other time I speak it. I've forgotten most of the little bit of French I've taken and I never really succeeded at learning Hungarian, though I did briefly attend a Hungarian class when I was a student in Germany.

Oh, yes, Korean. I remembered the time that I went to Korea on a business trip and how much I enjoyed being there, but how helpless (or hapless?) I was wandering on my own even in Seoul. So I finally decided that I could get more out of future travel to Korea if I was at least able to ask for things.

I had a little bit of a break from January to March, because no fourth-quarter Korean class was offered in Bellevue Community College's continuing education program. So at that time, I took a beginning Chinese course (Mandarin) so that I had something to occupy my mind outside of the office. But fortunately, the fourth quarter class was offered starting in April.

I attended last week and realized how much I've forgotten. This week was a little bit harder. I hope I can finally catch up and remember all of the things which I have neglected to spend much time studying over the last few months... I need to work harder.

Pottery class week 2, sort of

jason

Today I actually attended my pottery class on time... last Monday, the day of my return to Seattle, I was so jetlagged that I slept through the hour of class and showed up in time only to make an appearance and look at some things that recently came out of the kiln, all of which I had been working on last quarter.

I still haven't decided what I should do this quarter... on Sunday I came in and glazed some of the pieces that I had done last quarter, but today I was just playing around with different shapes and deforming them. I should probably come up with some kind of objective.

The value of a good party

jason

A friend of mine is having a housewarming party today, although she actually moved in to her place about 4 months ago. Earlier this week I had planned to bring some little dish to the party, so this morning I went over to Whole Foods in the Roosevelt area and picked up some maroumi sheep’s milk cheese from Greece, as well as some spinach, onions, and shallots, and a few other things. I made a thick béchamel sauce mixed with eggs, nutmeg, allspice, and the maroumi cheese, sort of like the topping you’d expect on moussaka. I lightly caramelized the onions and shallots, then briefly sautéed the spinach. I also made a simple yeast dough, fairly moist but with relatively low yeast content.

After that I put the spinach filling and the cooked béchamel sauce in low containers to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.

I wanted to go to the pottery lab to do a little bit of glazing of some work from last quarter. As usual with things pottery, I didn’t quite finish everything I had hoped by the time I needed to leave. I set a couple of things aside and went back home to finish cooking…

Basically I just rolled out a dozen or so small discs of dough and filled them with a little bit of the spinach-onion mixture mixed with some egg, topped with the béchamel sauce, and I closed them up sort of like Chinese buns. I baked them on a stone in my oven until they were brown and smelled nice, and packed them up for the party.

Attending a party as the owner of a small business is a different experience than attending a party as an “engineer” at a tremendously large software company. Meeting someone at a party has, up until now, been a pleasant diversion, a mild form of entertainment. But as a small business owner, every new face is an opportunity… people with job descriptions or educations or backgrounds that were merely interesting in my old life suddenly seem like potential partners, customers, people I can learn something from, or people who can introduce me to someone that might be useful for developing my business. It’s also kind of an opportunity to refine the story of my work. Hopefully I avoided sounding like too much of a salesperson… anyway, my spinach and béchamel buns disappeared, and I met some interesting people, and I don’t think I annoyed anyone too much.

Waking up is hard to do

jason

My jetlag seemed to affect me in the opposite way today… I had fallen asleep well before 10pm last night and I first awoke at 3:30 am; I was able to get back to sleep but didn’t return to consciousness until almost 9am. I was a bit surprised when I looked at my clock the second time.

I spent the next hour or so trying to finalize a bank transfer that had complications. This is all money intended to pay for the ceramics I bought in Japan on this trip.

Unlike the other days so far, I didn't end up at work until 10:30 or so... Usually I had been arriving sometime around 9 or so, since I've been getting out of bed at what I would normally consider unpleasantly early.