September 2014:

two. ate. suffered from a server meltdown about two years ago. After much disk recovery and delay, it has now been revived.

two. ate. had a short life hampered by other priorities (work, home, everything) and ended in 2008. However, there are some gems in here that you might want to read.

Lots of things and changes have happened since 2008 - deaths of good friends and ends of relationships that just sometime happen. Thanks to Janet, Tom, Meriko and Russell for starring in many of these posts. Although all of our lives have changed in material ways, I remain eternally grateful to all of you.

Click the link below to see my current food blog:
...but the devil sends the cooks.

February 10, 2008

Only Ordinary Men

When time flies, as it has for this blog, you tend to not do the things that remind you of all the things you should say to your close friends. And then in a flash, the moment is lost forever.

Such is life in this valley, state, world. But nothing could possibly compare to the moment that I lost in the passing of Tom Dowdy.

Tom Dowdy at the Poubelle Summer Party 2003...(photo by wjc)

I met Tom during the first time I worked at Apple. Over the years I left for other opportunities but I always seemed to drift back to Apple, and Tom was always there. Apple is an interesting and sometimes fantastic place to work but it was the fact that he was "just down the hall in IL2" or "across the bridge in IL1" that always lifted my spirits when Apple was merely an "interesting" place to work.

When he invited me to one of his dinner parties, we found that we had a mutual appreciation for the same music (progressive rock and, most notably, the band Dream Theater) and food. For the latter, "appreciation" is understating it a bit. It was full-blown obsession. Eventually, I was cooking with Tom at a majority of his legendary parties, and in recent years as his "lead" sous-chef. His dinner parties exemplified the concept that "you always cook for the people you love".

For me, it went deeper than that. I have always given freely to those that I love by cooking (being from a primarily Italian family, if you didn't learn that, then you weren't paying attention...). However, with Tom, it was a master lesson in the power of two friends in the kitchen exploring and discovering new things both about the food and each other, and then turning that into something that he(we) freely gave of ourselves.

He was a mentor to me for techniques and other things that I either didn't know or only had a passing familiarity. And I'm positive that I was able to teach him some things as well. Whichever way, he was always gracious, helpful, encouraging and giving - in his kitchen *and* mine.

We developed a kind of psychic link when we were in the kitchen. A nod, a glance, a grunt...most of the time we could finish each other's sentences as true friends often can. It was uncanny...and deeply satisfying.

Things have been tough (for me) lately, on all fronts. The valley tends to temporarily chew people up at times, even the strong ones and I have had no real inspiration to write about food here in Two. Ate. Yet I cook on, using techniques that Tom taught me as well as my own, to feed anyone who happens to be in the house. I do it gladly because...well, that just how I do. I always understood "why", Tom showed me the meaning of "why".

Only ordinary men could be so loving and giving. It takes an extraordinary person to paint himself as "just an ordinary guy" and still do all the things, and touch all the lives that Tom touched. He touched mine right down to the bottom of my soul. It is something that I will never, ever forget.

Tom, I hope to see you again someday, my beautiful friend, then we can be the ordinary men that we always want to be.

July 22, 2007

Barbecued Mussels

Looking for something in the "throw-together-and-grill" category, I picked a recipe out of Patricia Wells' The Provence Cookbook that fit the bill. And although the base recipe sounded real delicious as is, I couldn't help but to mess with it just a little bit....

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July 04, 2007

Central Texan Barbecue

Any motorcycle ride down the California coast wouldn't be complete without a lunch (or dinner) stop at the Central Texan Barbecue in Castroville. In fact, even if you're driving you should stop.

I have been going to the Central Texan for years and it never fails to disappoint...

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May 24, 2007

Toriyaki Kurumaya (Ebisu)

My friend Ajiki-san and I went out to dinner this evening to a new place I just happened to find by chance on the web. We read the reviews, they seemed to be getting good ones and so we decided to roll the dice.

Ajiki-san and I are extremely food-compatible so an evening of yakitori and oden would do just fine. And although not the ultimate for that kind of thing, Toriyaki Kurumaya was well worth visiting...

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Bagel & Bagel

Well, even in Tokyo you can get bagels. This is a good thing especially when you feel like having a slice of home. But as the way food goes here, you're in for a few surprises.


Wandering through Jinbochou looking for books, brought me across a Bagel & Bagel shop. Since it was nearly time for lunch (but lunch was still a few stops away), I felt the need to nosh. So in I went...

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May 23, 2007

Dear Two. Ate. Diary

Dear diary:

Sometimes you just need to revisit the past. Excitement aside, the past brings out the memories and memories bring out the satisfaction and so on...

Tuesday and Wednesday were the days to relive a bit of food treking. Hankering for the familiar, I went out to Nebari-ya for a nice natto-kimchee-tori soboro donburi lunch on Tuesday. Then onto Kazuki Ramen for late dinner on Wednesday.

Oh Two. Ate. Diary, the only other eye-opening things I discovered in the past 24 hours were the rather unique flavors applied to bagels (!), plus an interesting French restaurant nestled on a small backstreet (aren't they all?) in Hiroo but more on those later....

May 21, 2007

Unique Chazuke (Suzuya - すずや)

Chazuke (or ochazuke) is one of my favorite things to eat. It's just bits of vegetable or fish, some seasoning (usually something like furekake - dried seaweed, sesame seeds, preserved fish...) on top of rice on which green tea is poured. It's a do-it-yourself bowl of porridge.

Yes, tonkatsu please... (photo courtesy of

But I never in a million years would associate tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlet) as a chazuke topping. But Suzuya manages to pull it off....

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May 20, 2007

Rustic Soba (Ichi - いち)

Out in the middle of the Kiyosato area, through some twisty, country roads lies Ichi, a soba restaurant with a different kind of twist.

Housed in a building that used to be a Meiji-era hospital (the original sign still is hanging at the entrance), Ichi's charm is it's rustic, old-timey atmosphere. The tatami is sturdy but worn, the tables and chairs a melange of styles from years past and low beamed ceilings remind you to humble your head so you won't end up knocking yourself out. It's a very comfortable, cozy room.

Food-wise, the soba is top-notch. The buckwheat noodles are hand-made (common to soba restaurants in this area) and delicious and served with some unique and less common soba, gobo and mame tempura, tororo (grated mountain potato) or tender cooked root vegetables.

Ichi itself is a hidden gem worth searching out (sorry, no directions or pictures I was so taken by the location that I neglected to do either) in this area. I'm sure if you ask one of the locals, they'll be able to tell you where. It's some extra work, but worth it in the end.

May 19, 2007

Kiyosato Cookout

In Japan for more than just a whirlwind 10 days of eating in Tokyo, I trekked out to my friend Soma-san's vacation home in Kiyosato (3 hours west of Tokyo by car). Rather than visit one of the many restaurants in the area which, by the way, resembles California's wine-country, we hit up the local grocery store, a handmade bread shop, sausage store and local brewery for a cookout feast.

Beer and salt and well-traveled chopsticks... (photo by wjc)

After setting up the grill, we paraded out the grillables and proceeded to get our cookout on...

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January 31, 2007

Garlic Aioli Redux

By popular request...a handful of folks were discussing the relative merits of mayonaise (likes and dislikes) and of course I felt compelled to share. It's got a mayonaise base but it's garlic aioli:

- four cloves of garlic
- kosher salt
- two egg yolks
- one cup of olive oil
- dijon mustard
- lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
- room temp water
- white pepper

1. Mince garlic with a pinch of salt and keep chopping until you achieve a paste-like consistency.
2. Add garlic to the egg yolk (which should be in a small-ish bowl) and whisk to break the yolks.
3. *This is the labour intensive part* Start adding the olive oil drop by drop and whisk well after every one...after the yolk starts emulsifying you can add the oil in a thin stream. Keep whisking until all of the oil is incorporated. The mixture should be thick and mayonaise-like.
4. Add a bit of the lemon juice and water to thin. The lemon juice will "whiten" the mixture a bit.
5. Add a small (1/4 tsp) amount of the dijon mustard and white pepper to taste

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