Monday, March 30, 2009

Nostalgia Makes this Food Taste Better

I admit that my fondness for Sagar Sweets (formerly known as Nusrat Sweets) has more to do with memories than with the food.  If their sign is accurate, then I guess I started eating here shortly after it opened - in 1978.  It had been many years since I had last eaten here and although it hasn't improved with age, it is still a very lovable restaurant.  When my 29 year old was a toddler, this was one of the few places where we could eat out and relax.  Back then the restaurant had a patio which sat directly below the San Jose Airport landing pattern and the fun of watching jets fly over us and even the anticipation of jets flying over us kept my son gleefully occupied throughout the meal.  Plus, we were eating on a patio, big plus when dining with toddlers.  Sadly the patio is gone.  I had lunch here on Sunday and when I walked in the owner appeared stunned to see a customer.  But then he became quite friendly and the service was great.  The food is not fancy or real special but you get a very respectable meal for $4.95.  The lunch included a potato, lentil and spinach dish which was thick and tasty and spicy, a soupy bean dish with tomatoes and lentils, two warm, chewy and delicious roti flatbreads, a very tasty lime pickle and some sort of rayta.  Sagar Sweets is where I first acquired a taste for Indian desserts.  I topped off lunch with a dense, pink square of dessert and I was a happy camper.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour

Until Friday, I had never heard of Earth Hour.  Then a friend e-mailed me and suggested I might want to participate.  Indeed I did!  Just as Earth Hour (Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 PM) was about to begin, I was suddenly very hungry for dinner.  I turned out all the lights and set out to find a restaurant that was observing Earth Hour.  I was somewhat disappointed to see that most businesses were "lights on" as usual but it didn't take long to find a place that was participating in this global message that we are ready to stop climate change.  The one restaurant I found observing Earth Hour was the Vegetarian House, a rather pricey, upscale restaurant for the true believers.  I used to eat here frequently and enjoyed the kind of magic they work with meat alternatives, like turning soy into lemon chicken.  Anyway, the first thing I saw when I walked in was a big beautiful poster of our planet.  Then I noticed the restaurant was lighted entirely by candles and the waiters were wearing headlights.  I settled into a corner table, ordered a fresh mushroom, noodle soup with greens (delicious) and sat and read a book by candlelight.  A TV reporter and a cameraman came up to my table and asked if I would say something about Earth Hour.  I declined.  I commend the Vegetarian House for participating in Earth Hour.  Now lets all choose something we can do right now to stop global warming.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Gem of a Coffee House

I first discovered Lowry's Irish Coffee House when my dog made friends with another dog while we were walking on River St. nearby the place.  After walking together for awhile the other dog's owner asked if I wanted to go get coffee at Lowry's.  I said I never go inside because I don't want to leave my dog tied up near all those people eating pastries.  The dog owner said he'd be happy to "babysit" my dog so I could go in!  It worked out great.  Although I don't know what precisely is Irish about this coffee place, it is a delightful change from the usual chain coffee places and bagel places.  The breakfast menu is vast and includes a bunch of vegetarian options. The oatmeal pancake special sounded delicious but I was in the mood for something savory. I had one of their "bites" which are breakfast sandwiches on an egg bun.  An egg bun is the size and shape of a hamburger bun but is made from something like a brioche dough.  It is less buttery than a croissant and less dense than a bagel.  I enjoyed relaxing in the warm but spacious shop, eating and reading the newspaper (provided).  There are tables out on a pretty, sunny porch but it was a bit chilly for that this a.m.  A great spot for relaxing while you enjoy your coffee.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sheep in Downtown San Jose?

When I set out to take pictures of this whimsical front yard I had spotted last week on North Second Street, I wasn't expecting to have the surprising and enjoyable afternoon that I ended up having.  After shooting these pictures, I headed over to Guadelupe River Park to take the dog for a walk. We were stopped short when we spotted a flock of sheep grazing in the historic orchard.  This unexpected sight was quite exciting for me and Burgan (the dog) and I ran back to grab my camera.  While putting my camera away, I met a friendly and interesting man who also enjoys taking pictures of San Jose, mostly archiving relics that are about to be plowed down.  We connected with each other and we ended up having a rather lengthy and meaningful discussion about many things.  I just think it's unlikely I'd have this kind of afternoon if I was still living in the suburbs.  I love San Jose!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

San Jose City Hall

San Jose City Hall was under construction when I moved here and my daughter and I watched with great anticipation.  When it opened we were not disappointed.  I think the buildings are absolutely stunning and marvel at the precise stonework and glass work.  Everywhere you look there are beautiful patterns created by intersecting curved and straight lines.  I love the open plaza with the spectacular dome as its centerpiece.  I never tire of looking at the buildings and fountain in every type of light and in every season.  We love hanging out at the fountains or running up and down the ramps.  I've felt like a lone voice sometimes in praising the architecture.  There has been no end to the complaining about the cost or the practicality of the building.  But I feel valued as a resident of San Jose when I see our city hall.  I feel honored that city officials chose to build such a substantial and lasting tribute to the people of San Jose.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What is Art?

Not long ago, a controversy over the definition of art was sparked when a neighbor took it upon herself to hire a couple of guys to tear down some mosaic work on a bridge that crosses Coyote Creek.  When the people in the neighborhood found out that this woman had hired men to tear down the artwork, they were appalled (many considered it vandalism) and rallied around the artist to make sure he would be able to finish his work and that it would be preserved.  The work on the mosaics had begun years ago and had been funded by a grant.  When the grant ran out the artist continued to work, donating his time, talent and materials.  The bridges (there are two with his artwork) are a source of enjoyment and pride for the many neighbors who walk these streets.  What were the odds that a local artist (and wife of an aesthetics professor) would happen to be walking by the bridge as the artwork was being torn down?  She alerted her husband, they talked to the men who were tearing down the art and asked them to stop. When  questioned, the woman claimed "It isn't art."  Well, she expressed that opinion to the wrong guy.  In our corner we have our very own aesthetics professor who assured her that "the work fits all of the traditional and current definitions of art offered by philosophers and art theorists."  Ha!  Take that!  I submit to you the Coyote Creek Bridge art at 17th and Santa Clara.