Posts Tagged ‘Yigit Pura’

An Argo/Tout Sweet Birthday

Today is my birthday, and I celebrated by going to see Argo with a friend.  Sometimes the movies that have a lot of Oscar buzz leave me cold.  I recognize their excellence but I feel disconnected, without an emotional involvement in the characters and story.  Not the case with Argo.  I was totally engrossed from the beginning, which gives a brief but helpful overview to the events leading up to the Iran hostage crisis.  I was a junior in high school when it began, and while I was aware of the overall situation during those years, I was also busy living my teenage life.  The movie made me realize how little attention I’ve paid to the major historical events in my lifetime.  Anyway, I recommend Argo, even though the hair and fashions will make you cringe.  Believe me, I was cringing then, too.

After the movie, my friend and I headed to Tout Sweet Patisserie, Yigit Pura’s new dessert shop in Union Square.  It’s a lovely space, with a delightful staff and a great view of the Square.  I had the Petit Tout Sweet cake and my friend had the sous-vide poached egg sandwich.  I met Yigit Pura a couple of years ago at the GLAAD Media Awards, and again last October at the Meals on Wheels calendar signing at Macys.  I’ve been following the progress of Tout Sweet through facebook and twitter, and today was the perfect day to visit.  Yum!

My Year End Wrap Up 2011

Another year comes to a close, so now it’s time to reflect back over what entertained me in 2011.  I just looked at the wrap up from last year, to get an idea of how far I’ve come in twelve months.  It’s clear that my focus has shifted in two directions.   I spent a large part of this year with my head in London, after watching the 25th anniversary concert of Les Misérables in March.  I also headed back to the past in a big way, once I started watching RetroTV and MeTV during a summer of unbearable television on the big networks.   These two obsessions have a major influence on my best and worst list of 2011.

Best Books:  Most of the novels I liked this year were written for children and teens.  I particularly enjoyed Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (the 2011 Newbery Award winner) and Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John.  Guitar Boy by MJ Auch and Countdown by Deborah Wiles weren’t perfect, but they each stayed with me long after reading.  My favorite non-fiction book was The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, which managed to make the periodic table interesting to someone who barely paid attention to science in high school.  The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan was a little book filled with some gems, and it goes into the “hard to categorize” category.  The funniest books were Demitri Martin’s This is A Book, and Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz & David Hayward.  The biggest disappointments were The Sherlockian by Graham Moore and The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz.  The lesson here is to give up on Sherlock Holmes in books and stick to the BBC.

Best Television:  The Big Bang Theory remains my favorite sitcom, just for being consistently funny.  The best line: “Let’s hurry up and watch this Star Wars blu-ray before George Lucas changes it again!” (Sorry for the paraphrase.)  NCIS consistently underwhelmed me, and I’m can’t help wondering if I’ll give up on it soon.  In spite of my declaration to boycott Masterpiece on PBS, I still watched and enjoyed Downton Abbey, Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen, Jason Isaac as Jackson Brodie, and the Inspector Lewis mysteries.  I spent my summer wrapped up in the old series Da Vinci’s Inquest, and my winter has been dominated by reruns of The Rifleman.  Overall, the television program with the biggest impact this year was the Les Mis concert on PBS.

Best Twitter:  Last year, Matthew Gray Gubler was my favorite tweeter.  He’s still whimsical and original, but now most of his tweets are links to his tumblr page.  I hate tumbr, so this is a big strike against him.  Sorry, Gube.  West End performer Hadley Fraser can be great on twitter, but he goes quiet for long stretches.  Ramin Karimloo tweets with sincerity, but all those tattoo photos freak me out!  Matt Lucas, Josh Groban and Yigit Pura have been consistently entertaining, and Shah Rukh Khan’s twitter feed has a good balance of the personal and professional.

Best Movies:  I did slightly better than last year getting out to see new films on the big screen.  I really enjoyed X-Men: First Class, The Descendants, and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.   I’m not sure The Phantom of The Opera 25th Anniversary simulcast even counts in this category!  At the Frameline Film Festival, I enjoyed Kawa and Spork.  I have many more late 2011 films to see on DVD when they’re released in 2012.

Best DVDs:  I watched a lot of bad DVDs this year, just because they featured actors that I liked.  I really need to get over this habit!  While not necessarily bad, I endured a lot of fighting and CGI in movies like Thor, Captain America, and Centurion, just so I could see actors Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, JJ Feild, and Michael Fassbender.  I tried to watch all ten Best Picture Oscar nominees on DVD, but I faltered at 7½.  I did love The King’s Speech.  I hate to admit it, but I think my most entertaining DVD experience this year was re-watching JJ Abrams’ Star Trek with a friend.

Best StreamingDa Vinci’s Inquest and The Rifleman on hulu were great, even though I was also watching these series on broadcast television.  The worst: when Netflix split their charges for DVDs by mail versus streaming.  I tried a month of streaming only.  It was a disaster.  Nothing I wanted to watch would play without long pauses to reload.  Now that I’m getting DVDs only, the Netflix site doesn’t tell me what is available streaming only.  Netflix, you’ve got a long way to go before you win back my trust.  One free DVD rental for Christmas isn’t enough.

Best TheatreLes Mis and The Phantom of the Opera, obviously, even though I didn’t see either show live in an actual theatre.  I had some fun at San Francisco’s BATS Improv, especially seeing their Spontaneous Broadway.

Best Music:  I’ve spent most of my time listening to Josh Groban, Hadley Fraser, Sheytoons (Hadley Fraser and Ramin Karimloo), and Johnny Crawford.   Another favorite is the song Electricity from Billy Elliot (the stage musical).  Still, nothing beats Hadley Fraser singing Again.  The worst music this year?  Whatever was playing in the trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Gack.

Best Music Video:  It really doesn’t count, but I can’t help it.  I love Josh Groban Sings Kanye West Tweets.

Best Entertainment News:  Following the news from London about West End performers from the Les Mis concert has entertained me at least as much as the concert itself.  It brought me new friendships with fellow fans from all over, and it kicked off the practice of having guest bloggers here at The Ugly Bug Ball.  If I’m blogging less about the West End, it’s only because things are pretty quiet right now.  2012 promises some guest reviews of Ramin Karimloo as Valjean.

Entertainer of The Year:  Last year was easy.  This year, it’s difficult to choose.  Johnny Crawford is great, but he came along late, at the end of November.  I blogged the most often about Hadley Fraser.  He provided me with a rich variety of entertainment, between the Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera performances, the online news and tweets, the music recordings and the YouTube videos.  Still, Ian Tracey beats Fraser out for sheer volume.  Tracey has been working steadily since he was a teenager, and even without an online presence (no tweets, fansites, or facebook page) he provided me with the most hours of entertainment.  I’m going to have to declare a tie between Hadley Fraser and Ian Tracey.  Congratulations, guys.  There’s no prize, but you get my sincere thanks.  I’m sorry I can’t promise you my exclusive loyalty, because there’s always going to be a Johnny-Come-Lately waiting in the wings!

Hadley Fraser and Ian Tracey

Hadley Fraser as Grantaire in the Les Mis concert; Ian Tracey as Adam Worth in Sanctuary

Next: What I’m excited about in 2012.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Rainbow Sprinkles

I met Yigit Pura back in June when I was volunteering at the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards.   He’s the pastry chef who won the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts on Bravo, and he’s going to open a dessert place in Union Square called Tout Sweet.  I’ve been following him on facebook and twitter because he’s just so damn charming.  Last night,  I went down to Macy’s for a Meals on Wheels Chefs of the Bay Area Calendar Kick-Off Party, to get a calendar signed by seven of the chefs who participated.  Yigit Pura’s photo is on the front cover, and he’s Chef December.  It’s a great shot, because he’s shirtless and covered in rainbow sprinkles.

I almost didn’t make it to the party.  Here’s the twitter version:

Yigit Pura on twitter

How cool is that?

yigit calendar posterIt was a really nice event.  One small area of The Cellar was roped off for the party.  That’s the basement level with all the kitchen ware.  It was a fairly small gathering, maybe forty people, so we all had a chance to mingle a bit with the chefs before they started signing calendars.  I’m not a foodie, so I wasn’t familiar with the other chefs, but everyone was really warm and friendly.  The executive director of Meals on Wheels SF, Ashley McCumber, gave a speech and introduced everyone there who participated in the calendar project, including the photographer and the graphic designer.  We were offered wine, mini-cupcakes, little meringue cookies, and cups of salted caramel ice cream.

The chefs who were there signing: Kara Lind, David Bazirgan, Jen Biesty, Mark Dommen, Pam Mazzola, Kory Stewart, and Yigit Pura.  The calendar is gorgeous, and 100% of the proceeds go directly to MOWSF.  My friend got me the calendar for a birthday present, and I encourage everybody to get their own.  They can be ordered online from mowsf.org.

Kara Lind , David Bazirgan, Jen Biesty and Mark Dommen

Kara Lind , David Bazirgan, Jen Biesty and Mark Dommen

I was taking lots of photos trying to get some good ones for the blog.  Being a devoted blogger can also make you an annoying party guest!  I almost got defeated by the tight space and the department store lighting.  Anyway, the photos aren’t the greatest, but at least they give a sense of the event.  (Clicking on them takes you to larger versions.)

Thank you, Mr Pura!  (Sorry there were no cookies in the bag.)

The Meals on Wheels party and the treats

The Meals on Wheels party and the treats

Pam Mazzola, Kory Stewart and Yigit Pura

Pam Mazzola, Kory Stewart and Yigit Pura

Yigit Pura

Yigit Pura

Macy's window promoting the calendar

Macy's window promoting the calendar

yigit-pura-autograph

Of Curbs and Kitchens

I need to re-think my attitude toward reality television.  I really love a good hour-long scripted drama, and I always will.  Except for a few episodes of American Idol, I never watched much reality TV before now.  I have to start giving more of these programs a chance.  I discovered last week at the GLAAD Media Awards that there are some great people on these shows—hosts like John Gidding (HGTV’s Curb Appeal: The Block) and contestants like Yigit Pura (Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts).  

Curb Appeal: The Block is a home makeover show where architect/designer John Gidding transforms the front of a house with landscaping, masonry, paint, and architectural detailing.  Well, sometimes it’s the backyard as well.  It depends on the house and their $20,000 budget.  While doing the major makeover, the team also does smaller improvements to other homes on the same block.   They really pack a lot of work into a 30 minute program.  I like how they don’t waste any time.  Rapid editing gets right to the interesting stuff.  Even with the fast pace, they still manage to include some lively—even tense—interactions.  They obviously choose homeowners who have personality and look good on camera.  Hey, it’s television entertainment, after all.  At least they’re not choosing people with heartbreaking stories and building them grand houses they can’t afford to maintain.  People who may be lying and abusing their kids…(don’t get me started on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, please!)  I also like the focus being on the exterior for a change.  I’m no gardener, but I enjoy the landscaping part of the makeover.  I do wonder if the homeowners successfully maintain their new gardens, so I can’t help picturing the team sneaking back months later to check things out. 

HGTV architect/designer John Gidding

HGTV architect/designer John Gidding

My father was an architect, so I spent my early childhood sitting at drafting tables playing with rubber stamps and mechanical pencils.  I also played with my father’s Wright Blocks, never understanding why he’d get so upset when I broke a piece.  Turns out they were rare and valuable.  I thought they were pretty worthless myself, since the furniture shapes were too small for my Barbie dolls.  My father did some work under John Lloyd Wright, but I was too young to remember him.  Any romantic notions I had about architecture were dashed when I worked before college as a receptionist at my father’s office.  He was a consultant on navy contracts.  I spent my days typing government specifications that went something like this: ”The door frames shall not be wider than three feet, two inches by six feet, five inches, and shall not be narrower than two feet, eleven inches by five feet, ten inches.  The doors shall be…” for pages and pages and pages.  The worst part of the job was when the boss made me get out a broom and hose to scrub the bird poop from the front steps.  I got my revenge when I killed the copier by dumping toner into the gears.  It was an accident, I swear. 

 My point to all this reminiscing?  None of the architects I knew growing up looked like John Gidding!  It’s no surprise that he’s a former fashion model.  Having met him, I can confirm that he’s even nicer looking in person.  He’s also personable and friendly, so it’s not just an act for the camera.  I’m definitely a fan now, following him on twitter and facebook and his website.

Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura

Top Chef Just Desserts winner Yigit Pura

I also met Yigit Pura, and he won me over.  I have tried to watch the videos of Top Chef Just Desserts on the Bravo website, but all the videos I click on take me to the final segment when Pura is announced the winner.  I don’t know why the website does this.  I want to watch the entire episode.  That’s one of my major complaints about reality TV, actually.  The programs don’t usually merit repeat viewings, so no DVDs if you miss an episode.  Or a whole season, for that matter.  At least I can watch his “It Gets Better” video on YouTube.  Yigit Pura lives here in San Francisco, and he’s planning to open a high concept dessert place in Union Square.  He’s calling it Tout Sweet, and I’m looking forward to going there, assuming I can afford it!  There isn’t an opening date yet, so I’ve set up a google alert.  (I love google alerts!)  I wouldn’t be surprised if Yigit Pura is offered a reality program of his own, since the camera loves him and so do viewers.  Do I normally watch cooking shows?  No, but I’d watch Pura grate lemon peel for an hour.   (Are you reading this, Bravo?!)

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