Changing the Culture of the Tech World

Saturday afternoon Fred and I went up to the Javits Center to see NYC First's Robotic Competition.  Total geekdom.  Fred had a serious smile on his face the entire time.  It was as if he had just been transported back in time forty years.  

When we got there we made our way downstairs first to the restrooms.  I found myself listening to a group of young girls who were wearing purple capes with paint on their faces talking about what they had built.  It was awesome.  Fred saw them too and he expressed his frustration with USV's desire to hire a woman analyst yet very few applied.  They really did outreach.  I was actually enthusiastic about the percentage of women that had applied for the job and do believe that by taking a look around the event that over time more women will enter the tech field and the engineering side will change.  Also USV is a venture firm vs a tech company and I have found that one of the reason women are such great entrepreneurs and CEO's is because they are great at building and being part of teams.  Investors are not teams, they are loan guns who get together as a team once a week and although they know the partnership is there for support and advice each person runs their own deal flow.  

Sunday there was an article in the NYTimes called Technology's Man Problem.  The article is about the frustration, intimidation and disrespect to women who are engineers and developers inside tech companies. It focuses on a few women and their experiences.  There was a TechCrunch show where a group of men presented their app called Titshare.  An app where you take a photo of yourself staring at tits.  First of all I can't imagine that it is a worthy business but more important is the lack of professionalism to present something so dismissive to woman in the tech industry at the conference was actually allowed or even applauded.  

So how do we change this culture?  Certainly having more events like the Robotics Competition that brings out the inner geek in anyone.  At that age everyone is rooting for each other regardless of gender. Continuing to work in groups mixed with boys and girls throughout high school and college with better STEM curriculum creates respect for each others engineering intellect.  

I know it is hard for many women to stand up and say this is not ok but it would have been pretty powerful if a woman or/and a man stood up at the TechCrunch event and said to the audience watching this presentation that this is not ok.  What would their mothers think of their juvenile disrespectful behavior?  I am sure those guffaws would have changed to pure embarrassment.  

Women are slowly making inroads into the engineering end of the tech industry.  Those barriers must melt away because women who have engineering brains should be embraced not demeaned.  It is just as much up to the men who are supporters of women to stand up and say no more as it is for women to push back on men who harrass them in the developer world of technology.  It paves the way for the next generation. Just think back to fifty years ago and where we were.  Truth is those men are probably intimated and insecure which is why they demean women engineers.  Women should remember that next time. Instead of deciding to opt out just call it as you see it and if anything feel sorry for them instead of angry.  

At the Robotics event everyone cheered each other on regardless of being a boy or a girl.  It was great to see.  I hope these kids continue that cheer well into their adult years.  It is the only way that culture change will come.

Hannah Dupay, Woman Entrepreneur, Goodie Girl Golf

Allison Dorst, the entrepreneur behind Pinks and Greens, sent Hannah my way.  How could I not be absolutely delighted and intrigued by Hannah who is an 11 year old entrepreneur.  What a great role model for other young women who want to start their own businesses.  I emailed her Mom and set up a time to talk before she headed off to school one morning so we could talk about Goodie Girl Golf.  


Hannah was born in Glendale California before moving to St Helena Montana at the young age of four months where she stayed until she was two.  Then the family moved to Boise where they live today.  Her fathers side of the family lives in Idaho and her mothers side lives in Montana.  Her father wanted to be an architect and works in civil engineering while going to school to an advanced degree in that area.  Her Mom not only monitors Hannahs facebook and twitter accounts she is the backbone behind the business while she goes to school to be a radiologist. 

Grandpa Max, her Mom's dad, got her into golf.  He gave Hannah her first putter at age 3.  They started to play together when she was 8.  She really took to it and got her friends to play too.  There isn't a golf team at the school but they know the high school golf team coach who is helpful.  

Hannah started playing in tournaments during the summer months at 8.  As she got older she started doing more tournaments including practicing in the winter months to get ready for the summers.  The idea for Goody Girl Golf came to her because she kept losing her ball markers.  She didn't have pockets and did not like wearing hats.  Originally she would use a leaf to mark her ball but began to use her hair clip instead.  She always wore a hair clip to keep her bangs out of her eyes.  She was getting ready for a tournament one day and she put her hair piece down and it connected to her clip that was there because of a magnet.  She took a ball marker into the hair piece and it stayed.  She loved it but wanted it to look nice so she started to design hair pieces with magnets for the ball markers.

The first prototypes were not very good.  She knew she wanted to use flowers.  Hannah went to Wallmart and bought stickers, magnets and flowers.  She continued to play around until it looked good.  Once she had one that she liked they began to contact manufacturers.  Ends up she is the first in the golf hair accessory market.  She has a patent pending on her product.  She began to get media attention when she took her first booth at the Golf Show (see the video above).

Hannah has learned a lot about business.  She said making cookies and selling them is a lot easier.  So far she has sold 800 pieces.  Orders come in over her website and they fulfill them from her home.  They are just beginning to look for distributors.  They plan on doing more trade shows in the future.  The money is going back into the business and eventually a college fund.  

Next year Hannah enters junior high school.  It is not always easy having a business because sometimes you just don't have enough time for your friends.  She works hard at seeing her friends on the weekend to make up for it.  

Hannah filled a void in her life by creating a hair accessory for golf.  Someone is producing their flowers in Montana and the ball markers in Idaho.  There will be a new line coming out that will appeal to older women.  She wants to do clothing for junior golfers too.  She has learned how to build a business and how quickly things can change and that retail/ecommerce is hard work. Hannah says iIt would have never been as big as it is now if it wasn't for her Mom pitching in.

Hannah is full of energy and life.  A very articulate young girl who is an impressive woman entrepreneur.   

Spring dinner

Well it feels like spring.  It has been raining and around 50.  We are all so over the top that we do not have to wear layers and layers of clothes and heavy coats.  I decided a little spring meal was in order.

I got my new Frenchie cookbook and made the roasted  carrot, orange and avocado salad.  Simple, tasty and light.   

3 bunches of baby carrots peeled with just a little bit of the top left on

1/2 tsp. coriander seeds

1/2 tsp. fennel seeds

2 sprigs thyme

2 navel oranges

1 avocado

handful of cilantro leaves (you could opt out of this)

juice of 1 lime, olive oil, fleur de sel, crushed red chili peppers

Turn oven on to 350.

Trim the carrots and put them in a bowl.  In a small dry skillet add the seeds over a medium high heat for about three minutes until they start smelling fragrant.  Let them cool and crush them with a mortar and pestle or a heavy utensil.  I used the bottom of a ladle.  Note to a mortar and pestle

Add the toasted seeds to the carrots with thyme, olive oil and salt and roast for about 30 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.  

Lay them out on a plate.  Thinly slice the oranges into rounds.  Cut the avocado into thin slices.  Layer all of this on a plate and toss the cilantro leaves over the top.  Squeeze fresh limes, drip a little olive oil, salt and crushed red chili peppers and over the top and serve.  

Main course was chicken.  Use whatever pieces you prefer.  Preheat another oven to 350.  I rubbed the chicken down with a smoky paprika, salt and pepper.  In a deep pan that can go in the oven with a top cover the bottom with olive oil and let it get hot and then brown the chicken and set it aside.  Take a whole sweet onion and slice thinly.  Also take 3 lemons and slice them thin too.  Add that to the pot where you browned the chicken.  Saute until the onions begin to get caramelized.  Then add about a cup of more of white wine and a few sprigs of thyme and let that boil down about half way.  Put the chicken back into the pot and put it in the oven at 350.  Let roast about 30-40 minutes.

Interviewing candidates for a job

ImagesInterviewing candidates for a job in your company is exciting on one hand but nail biting on the other because essentially you want to make the right choice.  I am a big fan of the saying hire slowly and fire quickly because a bad hire can disrupt the company in so many ways.  It is important that the person you hire in any capacity fits into the company.  The culture of the company is so key.  If everyone does lunch together on Fridays and someone doesn't want to be part of that then they are not the right fit for the company.  Happy people who are drinking the same kool-aid make for better organizations.

We were talking about the conversations that people have when interviewing a potential candidate.  Someone was given this advice which I thought was genius.  Ask the question "How lucky are you on a scale of 1-10"?  The answers you get are amazing.  Gives you real insight into a person.  Someone even suggested a simple question like "How is your handwriting"?  

Certainly getting someone to do a short project gives you insight too.  I also believe if you think they are the right person take them out for a drink before making the ask if this person is going to fill a major role in your company.  Not coffee but a real drink so guards are down.  You learn a lot.  

I went on an interview years ago and the person asked me one question.  He said "How organized are you"? I laughed out loud and answered with a look of are you kidding me and said "Very".  He basically said great, interview over, you are hired.  It ended up being a great job and I loved working for him.  

It is the simplicity of the question that can sometimes tell you more about the person on the other side of the table than anything else.

Just when I thought I knew NYC

My friend sent this to me.  Great insights into NYC on Buzzfeed.   

1. Pinball was banned in the city until 1978. The NYPD even held “Prohibition-style” busts. 
2. It is a misdemeanor to fart in NYC churches.
3. It costs $1 million to get a license (medallion) to operate a taxicab. 
4. The first pizzeria in the United States was opened in NYC in 1895. 
5. In 1857, toilet paper was invented by Joseph C. Gayetty in NYC.
6. The Jewish population in NYC is the largest in the world outside of Israel. 
7. Up until World War II, everyone in the entire city who was moving apartments had to move on May 1.

8. The city of New York will pay for a one-way plane ticket for any homeless person if they have a guaranteed place to stay.
9. There’s a man who mines sidewalk cracks for gold. He can make over $600 a week.
10. According to New York City’s Office of Emergency Management, the last hurricane to pass directly over the city was in 1821. The storm surge was so high that the city was flooded up to Canal Street. 
11. Hog Island, a one-mile-long island south of Rockaway Beach, was never seen again after the hurricane of 1893.
12. New York City’s leading hurricane historian, Nicholas Coch, a professor of coastal geology at Queens College, believes that this is the only reported incidence ever of the removal of an entire island by a hurricane.

13. Up until 1957, there was a pneumatic mail tube system that was used to connect 23 post offices across 27 miles. At one point, it moved 97,000 letters a day.

14. Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are stored in a safe deposit box in the city.
15. There are tiny shrimp called copepods in NYC’s drinking water.
16. On Nov. 28, 2012, not a single murder, shooting, stabbing, or other incident of violent crime in NYC was reported for an entire day. The first time in basically ever.
17. There’s a wind tunnel near the Flat Iron building that can raise women’s skirts. Men used to gather outside of the Flat Iron building to watch.

18. About 1 in every 38 people living in the United States resides in New York City.
19. New York City has more people than 39 of the 50 states in the U.S.
20. There is a birth in New York City every 4.4 minutes.
21. There is a death in New York City every 9.1 minutes.
22. The borough of Brooklyn on its own would be the fourth largest city in the United States. Queens would also rank fourth nationally.
23. New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia.
24. New York has the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world.
25. PONY stands for Product of New York.

26. In 1920, a horse-drawn carriage filled with explosives was detonated on Wall Street killing 30 people. No one was ever caught, and it is considered to be one of the first acts of domestic terrorism. 
27. In nine years, Madison Square Garden’s lease will run out and it will have to move.
28. UPS, FedEx, and other commercial delivery companies receive up to 7,000 parking tickets a DAY, contributing up to $120 million in revenue for the city of New York.
29. It can cost over $289,000 for a one-year hot dog stand permit in Central Park.

The New York Times / Via

30. Sixty percent of cigarettes sold in NYC are illegally smuggled from other states.
31. There was one homicide on 9/11, and it remains unsolved.
32. There are “fake” buildings in the city that are used for subway maintenance and ventilation. The building below in the middle, located in Brooklyn, has a fake facade. There is no brownstone within.

Google Maps

33. Chernobyl is closer to New York than Fukushima is to L.A.
34. There are more undergrad and graduate students in NYC than Boston has people.
35. New York City’s 520-mile coastline is longer than those of Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco combined. 
36. The Empire State building has its own zip code.
37. The East River is not a river, it’s a tidal estuary.
38. There is a secret train platform in the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Charles Mostoller / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

39. When the Dutch first arrived to Manhattan, there were massive oyster beds. In fact, Ellis Island and Liberty Island were called Little Oyster and Big Oyster Island.
40. McSorley’s, the oldest Irish ale house in NYC, didn’t allow women inside until 1970.
41. Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, and Bryant Park used to be cemeteries. 
42. There are 20,000 bodies buried in Washington Square Park alone.
43. The original Penn Station was considered to be one of the most beautiful train stations in the world but was torn down because of declining rail usage.

Ewing Galloway/Hulton Archive / Getty Images

44. NYC garbage collectors call maggots “disco rice.”
45. In 2010, 38% of all 911 calls in NYC were butt dials.
46. Times Square is named after the New York Times. It was originally called Longacre Square until 1904 when the NYT moved there.
47. The entire world’s population could fit in the state of Texas if it were as densely populated as New York City.
48. In 1975, the city of New York sold a private island in the East River for $10.

Courtesy of the NYC Audubon / Via

49. The winter of 1780 was so harsh in New York that New York harbor froze over. People could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island on the ice.
50. From 1904 to 1948 there was an 18th Street station on the 4/5/6 line. It’s abandoned now, but you can still see it on local 6 trains.

51. The narrowest house in NYC is in the West Village: 75 1/2 Bedford Street is just over 9 feet wide.

52. In 1906, the Bronx Zoo put an African man on exhibit in the monkey house.
53. Credit card minimums ARE legal in the city. In 2010, Congress passed a law saying up to a $10 minimum was legal. 
54. It would cost about $17,000 to take a cab from NYC to L.A.
55. In 1922, there was a Straw Hat Riot. It was an unofficial rule in NYC that straw hats weren’t allowed to be worn past Sept. 15, but some unruly kids started snatching people’s hats a few days before that causing an uprising that lasted a few days.
56. Eating a New York bagel is equivalent to eating one-quarter to one-half a loaf of bread.
57. NYC buries its unclaimed bodies on an island off the coast of the Bronx called Hart Island. Since 1869, nearly a million bodies have been buried there. The island is not open to the public.

58. There’s a 150-foot-deep hole (15 stories) on Park Avenue between 36th and 37th streets.
59. The price of a slice of pizza and the cost of a single ride on the subway has been nearly equal for the past 50 years. 
60. The scary nitrogen gas tanks you see on the corners of streets are used to keep underground telephone wires dry.

Going to the NY Stock Exchange

Me and captain america
I have never been to the stock exchange before.  No reason why I would have gone.  There is something magical about the whole place.  It is so very American.  

With a few of my fave people in the tech industry in NYC we have been putting together founders breakfasts.  So far we have had two.  There are so many interesting founders in NYC who do not know each other yet all the investors seem to know each other or have heard of each other.  Both breakfasts have been really great event and I am looking forward to more.  

Today the event took place at the NY Stock Exchange.  We had a breakfast at a huge round table where everyone gave their name, their companies name, what their company did and gave a short summary of what they have learned and what they perhaps need.  Then the conversation opened up and we talked about a few topics before getting a tour of the exchange.

The bell was rung by the Captain American people from Marvel today because the movie opens on Friday. In my head I expected mayhem on the floor but perhaps because of computers things are pretty tame.  Still it was pretty cool.

Surviving and Thriving

One of the greatest things about writing this blog is I have met some of the most amazing people.  I met Tanya maybe 5+ years ago.  She reached out to me after reading my blog for awhile.  She saw that I was going to be in London and she wanted to come and meet me from Portugal.  She told me that she was working on a project called Surviving and Thriving and was interviewing people and wanted to talk to me.  Tanya's surviving and thriving comes from being sexually abused as a child.  I wrote a post on it here.  

The concept of surviving and thriving is something that I have thought of often because it can be applied to how you live your life.  I have caught up with Tanya several times over the 5 years.  We had lunch in London when I was there for a summer, she has come to several of the Women Entrepreneur Festivals and she definitely made an impact on people at the event.  She's charming, smart and a engaging.

Her project is finally out there.  I believe she wants to talk to more victims of sexual abuse and bring their stories to life so that more children who are being abused are not afraid to come forward.  The hope is that by being outspoken on this topic the cycle will stop.
Read the piece below and then check out the video.  Here is Tanya's site. 

My Story and the Audio below this of our face to face meeting.
My name is Tanya Monteiro, and I’m 43 years old. I’m a marketer, social media buff, yoga teacher, African, daughter, girlfriend and human being. I was also sexually abused by my stepfather from the age of twelve to the age of sixteen.

For a long time I guarded this secret, telling myself I was okay because I was working, I was living, I had friends and I had a life – which, by the way we measure these things, was a successful one. I travelled, met people, had relationships, made money and it took me a long, long time to realise that surviving is just not the same thing as thriving. Not by a long shot.

I was surviving because I was keeping quiet about what had happened to me and what ultimately changed who I was when I was too young to know how to stop it. For fear of hurting my family and the people I loved, I held this secret close to my heart telling myself it was okay now, that it was in the past and that I didn’t have to visit that place of sadness and pain any longer. And I half-believed my lie as I numbed myself with work and projects and the things we find to do when we’re crying inside and don’t know how to make the hurting stop.

This project is about making the cycle stop. Not just for me, but for everybody out there who’s been injured in this way and has been suffering in silence. It will never go away unless we confront it head on; look our heartbreak in the eye and go, ‘hey. I see you. I’m doing something about this’.

For me, it’s speaking my truth by sharing my story. It’s my way of taking it out of the dark and flinging it into the light so that it can stop festering and growing like mould does when it’s left undisturbed.

Part of this process turned out to be documenting, in audio form, a face-to-face conversation I had with my stepfather and his wife. I confronted him and tried to get answers to questions I’d held on to for far too long. I needed some acknowledgement of what he had done; some semblance of an apology that would help me to heal. I didn’t get exactly that, as many of us in this situation don’t.

But, as I discovered, that doesn’t even matter. What it did do is set me free, and I hadn’t even realised that I wasn’t free from him.

Sharing our conversation feels like a small part in my responsibility on breaking the silence and helping to make these cycles stop. I’m proud of myself for standing up to him, looking him in the eyes and forcing him to confront what he did to me.

I never realized how powerful that meeting of the eyes would be, and this is the deeper reason I want to share this audio - to encourage and inspire and help others whose desire is to Thrive.

What I learnt when I was numbing myself with work in London and on Wall Street, with interviewing loads of people for my documentary across the USA, and with teaching yoga and learning to surf in Portugal, is that I will never achieve inner peace until I do something good with the bad I lived through.

It happened to me for a reason, and denying that means denying myself, and what I believe to be my way of living with purpose. It’s time to jump into the arena!

I don’t know exactly what this project looks like yet or how it’s all going to fit together. For now I’m taking the leap and hoping that by sharing what was a meaningful and very real experience for me, I will encourage others to speak out about their experiences too, - maybe even visit their perpetrators and take back their own power.

Embarking on this project makes me feel less like a victim and more like a part of the solution to a situation, which is far too commonplace. I can’t say that I can fix anyone but I can say I’ve been there, I get it, and you are not alone.

I hope to be a small stepping-stone in helping others find their own voices, and to offer the courage to bring their own secrets into the light. I also hope this will help others to discover that inside each of us there is the strength, resilience and passion for living and thriving, something I never knew I had.

Here’s to Surviving AND Thriving!

Thank you for hearing my story.

NOTE: My stepfather was given an opportunity to listen and comment to this audio. I received no answer.

Rebecca Rachmany, Gangly Sister, Woman Entrepreneur

An email popped into my box in early February from Rebecca telling me about her agenda to get more women in tech.  She decided the best way to do that was to engage the youth through animated series with fun role models.  I watched the video and was intrigued.  My attention span is problem shorter than many young kids who if I remember correctly can watch something over and over and over again.  I scheduled a call with Rebecca to hear her story.  

She was born in St. Louis and spent two years there moved back east eventually settling in New Jersey where she went to High School.  Her father was one of the most published biology professors at Washington University but was not given tenure. Her mother was a genestist working at a research assistant at Washington University.  She made quite a stir about about women with Phd's not getting tenure and being put on fast tracks vs the men. Her parents believe because her Mom was so vocal her father was never given tenure.  They left St. Louis and her father got out of academia where grants, tenure and politics were not an issue.  Her Mom worked at the population council doing research working on reproduction and aids.  Her Mom was also at Columbia University for years eventually moving into the pharmaceutical industry.  

RR-Fave-300x200Rebecca did not go far from NJ going to college at Rutgers where she majored in history with a minor in mathematics.  When she was in tenth grade of high school her father did a sabbatical in Israel.  She didn't want to go but had no choice.  She did not love being there but that year changed the direction of Rebeccas life because after graduating she went directly back to Jerusalem Israel and stayed.

She was too old for the army so instead got a job as a scientific editor and moved into the technical writing field. It was 1991/92 where there was a need to write user manuals.  Since she had worked on the school paper when she was at Rutgers the job fit.  She stayed for about a year and then moved to Tel Aviv.  She landed a job in a small tech company where she built her team up to ten people.  

Rebecca was managing the leading English documentation company in Israel. While she was there she got her MBA in Israel through a partnership between Kellogg and Tel Aviv University.  It was at that point of her career writing in the tech field began to get stale.  She figured getting her degree would help her make a leap to something else.  

She graduated in 1999 just had a baby and was about to have another one.  While she was was managing at her job, getting a MBA at the same time and managing a family.  It was a time when most people say I can't do all of this at once but people in Israel are very tolerant of that.  She'd even bring the baby to meetings at times.  During this time Rebecca worked at some start-ups in marketing but she never could jump into the VP arena as many of her male counterparts.  She wondered perhaps I am not political enough to move into those jobs.  She decided maybe I should start my own company.

She kept asking the question why are there not more female engineer?  This was ten years ago and she began a consulting business.  During this time she met a guy who worked on 3D technology and she started something in the animation business.  They created a one minute pilot and tried to pitch it to Disney and Nickelodeon. It was this tiny part of her business that excited her.   Her six year old twins loved the video. Their family friends kids loved it but they could not sell it.  Everyone had gone on to do other jobs but everyone wanted this to succeed.  So she got the team back together, incorporated and wrote some more scripts.  

They were frustrated with the role models that their kids were seeing on TV.  They showed it at a toy company event and people were taken with it.  What is different now than it was ten years ago is you can release these videos on YouTube and find viewers.  It is not necessary to sell it to a major player like Disney to prove your model.  People have begun tweeting out the video, bloggers have reached out to them.  They are optimistic about their future.  They are actively planning a game for young women.  

Rebecca has had this concept rolling around in her head for a long time.  The video is worth watching and I do believe she is on to something.  She wants to build a company to be the content provider for young women (and boys) who become connected to role models that are tech saavy and love being engineers.  Go for it Gangly Sister.  

Bestia, Los Angeles

We are staying in Venice CA so driving down to Bestia took us about an hour to get there but only 20 minutes to get back.  This defines Los Angeles.  I really wanted to go to Bestia so we journeyed downtown. Supposedly there is a street car being built between Santa Monica and the Staples Center.  The ones they ripped out in the 30's are returning brand new.  I know that there will be a challenge changing peoples behavior but I for one would be thrilled to hop on it and get down there with out driving.  

Bestia is rocking.  There are several areas to eat from the bar to outside to the booths and the huge open kitchen sits roughly in the middle of the restaurant.  We walked in and they were blaring Boston and Jethro Tull.  I have written before about sound levels but the place is built in an old warehouse so acoustics are tough.  I did find myself having a very hard time hearing anyone which kind of sucks.

There are cocktails and one sounds tastier than the next.  Two of us had a Butchers Cup.  Tequila blanco, lime juice, cucumber, mint and salt.  Pretty delicious.  There is a good sized wine menu too.  The food menu is broken into 5 areas; tiny plates, antipasti, pizza, pasta, a few main entrees and dessert.  Everything is for sharing.  We most definitely over ordered but got lots of tastes.  

Everything is made on the premises.  We began with a brushetta with a oozing buratta and pan fried spicy greens on top and small dollops of a carrot puree.  Quite good

We kept a bowl of marinated olives on the table through out the meal.

Veal tartare crostini was really good and unique.   Toasted bread covered with chopped veal, shallots, lots of lemon zest and a tonnato sauce.  

There are a few salad options.  We had the little gems.  Nice and light.  Mixed greens with a tasty walnut vinaigrette, shaved ricotta salta, fresh herbs which really worked well with the greens, sliced radishes and shallots.  We could have had more of this.  

Growing up chicken gizzards were one of those things we considered a treat when we roasted a chicken. This dish was really good.  Crispy chicken gizzards mixed together with roasted beets, leaves of belgian endive and agred capra sarda (a semi-hard goat cheese).  

They make all their own salumi there so we got a plate.  It is the chefs selection of their house-cured meats, pickled vegetables and three different kinds of pastes for the bread.  Lardo, basil pesto and a I forgot the other one.  The veggies were really crunchy and tasty.  I particularly liked the classic salami.

This is like a hearty stew.  Mussels and clams cooked in a spicy red sauce with pieces of sausage, fennel seeds, preserved lemons and of course grilled bread for dipping.

This is kind of like a warm salad.  I really liked this.  Well prepared.  Grilled octopus and calamari mixed with arugula, mixed mushrooms, fennel, aged balsamic vinegar and a chili lemon vinaigrette.  A nice bite to it.

We split one pizza and went with a standard, margarita.  It was good but definitely not my favorite.  

We would have done one pasta but we did not need it based on all the other stuff we ordered.  Also we had one gluten free person at our table so it was a good thing to take a chill on the pasta although prominent on the menu.  Reality is the dishes are larger than we thought.  Sharing is great and the dishes are quite big.  I am glad we got so many things to taste but honestly someone should have said too much!

We actually could not believe that we had ordered this much but we did destroy the duck.  1/2 Roasted duck with spicy broccoli, fennel pollen ( one of my faves ) and a duck reduction.  Crispy skin, juicy meat.  A winner.

We also had the grilled whole Orata served with rapini, anchovy paste, dandelion greens and chili oil.  Well prepared but honestly I was so full I had moved off the savory and was on to the sweet.

We did two sweets.  A sour sweet cherry jam tart with vanilla ice cream.

But the best was the "coffee and donuts"  spice chesnut donuts with coffee ice cream and whipped cream.  Really good.  

Great evening.  The music did move into some of the other decades later in the night.  Place was still hopping when we left.  Far but glad we went.  

Food in an around Laguna

I have a long history with Laguna.  My Grandmother moved to Laguna when she had enough of the cold. She had always gone back and forth from DC to LA.  We are from LA so Florida wasn't even a thought.  When I was in college I spent my first semester of my senior year working for Robinsons in Los Angeles.  Fred spent the majority of the time with me deciding not to graduate in 3.5 years.  All he had left was his thesis but once he got off the plane he decided why not just stay and finish his thesis when I went back to finish college too.  We visited my Grandmother often so it is fun to return to that area and certainly see the development that has gone on over the last 25 years.

Zinc cafe
I wish I could write about something that rocked our world but I can't.  We are insanely spoiled in NYC.  A few highlights.  Breakfast at Zinc Cafe in Laguna.  We also went to Anastasia in Laguna which we had been to years ago when were in Laguna for a wedding.  I like that you can eat on one side and shop on the other but the food is just ok.  This breakfast bar at Zinc was quite good.  Tastes like mandel bread loaded with dried fruit.  Made me want to go home and whip up some mandel bread.

I wish I could recommend some restaurants for dinner but I can't.  There was a store I wanted to check out in Newport Beach so we drove up there one day and had lunch too.  Searched for the best fish tacos in Newport and this is what came up.  The Bear Flag Fish company.  There was a line at noon so that is always a good sign.  Somethings were better than others.  It is essentially a restaurant that also sells fish.  

Here is the grill for the tacos and the fish.  

We had swordfish tacos with avacado.  

Fresh coconut water and poke.  They have both salmon and tuna poke so we tried both.

The chips are excellent.  Might have to find these online and buy them.

Grilled artichokes
The grilled artichoke is a nice touch.  Steamed and then finished off on the grill.  Might do that myself.  

Probably our best lunch there.  Definitely gives you a little bit of the local Newport flavor too.  

Joanne Wilson Joanne Wilson loves food, books, and music. She lives in New York City. Her husband Fred and children Jessica, Emily, and Josh are bloggers too. More »

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