Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dinner @ Rasa in Burlingame, CA

Recently I had a chance to eat at Rasa in Burlingame, CA.  It was recently named by Michael Bauer of the SF Chronicle as his favorite Indian restaurant in the bay area.  It was also awarded a Michelin Star last year.

Unlike most many Michelin Star restaurants, Rasa is on the casual side of the restaurants.  It offers just an a la carte menu, so you won't find a tasting menu or price fixe menu here.

The menu is divided into "small plates", "uthappam", "dosa", and "entrees".  We decided to get an "uppatham" as  an appetizer because we'd never had it before and then get two entrees.  The staff brought out each one individually for us to share.

1) kheema uthappam - Spiced organic ground lamb masala served atop an uthappam featuring sweet peppers and cilantro

We both had never tried an uthappam before so we decided to try it out.  Overall, I loved this dish.  It had a lot of flavor to it.

It came with a lentil soup & two chutneys.  The red one at the top was a tomato based chutney and the green one was a coconut one.  I first reaction when trying the chutneys was "they have a lot of flavor".  Much better than the somewhat bland ones from most Indian restaurants.

2) butter chicken - marinated w/ yoghurt, ginger, & garlic in a creamy tomato and fenugreek curry, served with kerala paratha

I know it's butter chicken, probably not what you want to get at a "Michelin Star" Indian restaurant.  But my +1 said we should try it so we can compare this "Michelin Star" butter chicken to other places.  Fair enough.

Overall quite good.  It was much sweeter than other butter chickens I've had before.  The recipe is also not as as creamy as other butter chickens I've had.  Likely it's a recipe from another region of Indian.

3) halibut pollichathu - halibut wrapped in banana leaf and roasted with a shallot ginger spice crust served with coconut rice and green bean foogath

This entree looked interesting so we decided to check it out.  It comes with an onion sauce which you see at the top.  I had to look up what "foogath" is, but it is apparently vegetables with curry and coconut.

Here's a picture of the fish once we got it out of the banana leaf.

Overall I thought the dish was pretty good although the flavor wasn't quite as strong as I would have liked it.  I did love the green bean foogath.  I think this would be an excellent entree dish to have by itself for dinner, since it has a bit of everything (fish, rice, vegetables).

At this point in the meal we were quite stuffed and couldn't finish everything.  Unlikely most fancy "Michelin Star" fancy restaurants, this wasn't a series of small dishes coming out one at a time over hours.  These dishes came up semi-fast.  IIRC, we got this entree just a few minutes after we finished the butter chicken.  So we decided to just get one dessert to share.

4) cardamom brulee - South Indian spin on a bread pudding served with vanilla bean ice cream and market berries

This dish was really interesting and really tasty.  The bread putting was caramelized on top just like creme brulee.  Overall, it was delicious.  Add in the vanilla ice cream and berries, overall wonderful.

Overall, the meal at Rasa was quite good.  I think a little better than the one at All Spice we had a few years back.

In hindsight, I think the uppatham and two entrees was a bit too much food given the pacing the restaurant brought out the dishes.  I think it would have been better to order a small plate or two, an uppatham or dosa, and an entree.  I think the portion size overall would have been much better.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Cubs - Things are averaging out

About a month ago I wrote about how everything was going perfectly for the Cubs as humanly possible.

I noted that the performance seemed to defy reason and some regression back to the mean seemed likely.

It seems that it happened just in the last month.

Here's the pitching roster's stats on June 6th

Jake Arrieta - 9-1, 1.80 ERA
Jon Lester - 6-3, 2.29 ERA
John Lackey - 6-2, 2.88 ERA
Kyle Hendricks - 4-4, 2.84 ERA
Jason Hammel - 7-1, 2.14 ERA

here it is today on July 16th

Jake Arrieta - 12-4, 2.68 ERA
Jon Lester - 9-4, 3.01 ERA
John Lackey - 7-5, 3.70 ERA
Kyle Hendricks - 8-6, 2.41 ERA
Jason Hammel - 7-5, 3.46 ERA 

By all means the staff is still doing really well, but 5 starters with a sub-3.00 ERA seemed beyond their capabilities.  Only Hendrick's ERA has gone down, while everyone else's went up by atleast 0.72.  Hendrick's FIP sits at 3.48, over a full run above his current ERA of 2.41.  So that may average out for him over the rest of the year too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oddities in HBO's Silicon Valley

I recently began watching HBO's Silicon Valley.  Once in awhile I see a technical and/or conceptual oddity that I can't help but ponder over and think "uhhh no".  These are the ones that I noticed and bothered me.

I'm not going over any specific misuse of technical terms or over exaggerated elements for Hollywood humor.

Needless to say there are ***SPOILERS*** below if you haven't watched the show.

Season 1 - Episode 1

Richard is an employee at Hooli, but is also in a startup incubator launching Pied Piper.  Later in the episode Hooli CEO Gavin Belson tries to purchase Pied Piper.

Shouldn't Hooli have an intellectual property claim on Pied Piper, given that Richard is still an employee at Hooli?

Now I can't speak for the IP rights contracts that every company in the world has, and there are obvious exceptions (some companies you can sign documents to indicate you have some outside business interests that are independent of your job), but this seemed odd to me.

(They eventually delve into this in Season 2.)

Season 1 - Episode 6

In this episode, elite programmer "The Carver" is hired to help get Pied Piper towards its deadline.  In a somewhat cliche plot, he messes up some code and the team has to spend a lot of time fixing his mistake.

I couldn't help but think, "You guys don't have a code revision repository of any sort?"  The kind of thing that could be backed out within a minute or two? Later in the episode, they are distinctly comparing lines of code on two screens, so it strongly suggests they don't have a code repo.

But this isn't what gets me.  Later on, they also ran and passed regression tests to know they fixed the bugs/mistakes.  Regression tests suggest that you have different versions of software.  After all, what's the point of regression tests if you're not trying to catch old bugs/mistakes?  So they have different versions of software, but no code repo to manage the different versions of code?

Season 2 - Episode 10

During the trial, Erlich mentions that Big Head's code for "Nip Alert" was so bad that it crashed Richard's laptop and Richard had to take it to the Apple store to fix and it was "in the shop" for three days.

Now "crash" is ambiguous, but I interpreted the dialogue context to mean this caused a hardware problem.  It wouldn't have to be "in the shop" for three days otherwise.  It would be very hard, if not impossible, for a web based application (let alone a normal installed application) to destroy a laptop's hardware.  I can see potential theoretical ways, but it's hard to imagine a general application doing this. [1]  Add in the fact that Big Head is generally regarded as incompetent, it's hard to believe he could have done anything that advanced.

If "crash" caused a software based problem, such as a process foolishly running amok and deleting valuable system software (again, shouldn't really be happening for a userspace non-privileged process and shouldn't be happening with such a dumb application), this one is perhaps a bit more believable.  But a simple software reinstall and update from backup is all you need.  No need to bring it into the shop.

Season 3 - Episode 6

In this episode Richard is shown to be a lover of tab indentation in code.  He meets a girl named Winnie who codes uses spaces instead of tabs.

In one scene Richard and Winnie are sitting on the couch both coding and Winnie is programming and constantly smashing the spacebar to indent her code.  It's loud and annoying and eventually Richard can't handle it.  Hilarity ensues.

The "tabs" vs "spaces" debate is endless, but what I found interesting was the fact that Winnie repeatedly hit the spacebar to indent her code.  Today, almost every editor will automatically convert a "tab" to the appropriate number of spaces.  So there is no need to ever hit the space bar over and over again.  Even those who prefer spaces to tabs don't actually hit the spacebar over and over again, they use the tab key.

[1] - While writing this I Googled "can you program software to damage hardware" and there are some write ups with theoretical ideas that seem to confirm my suspicions.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Heroic Programming/Engineering in Hollywood

Once in awhile when I'm watching a tv show that includes some programming/engineering, I am amazed by the level of "Heroic Programming" or "Heroic Engineering" capabilities of the characters.

The one I've noticed the most is Timothy McGee on NCIS.  At multiple points in time McGee is capable of engineering solutions to help solve a crime on the order of an afternoon.  These are feats that would take people days to months.  On a few occasions McGee single handedly developed data mining algorithms and capabilities that probably bordered on the capabilities of Palantir.

Keep in mind that McGee has mastered these heroic capabilities, despite the fact that he doesn't even program as his day job.  So he has seemingly developed all these abilities as a side-task and/or hobby.

Another one I saw recently was on the show Silicon Valley.  While the individuals on the show are atleast full time engineers, they seem to have epic capabilities.  A very small team of just three engineers seems capable to engineer everything, on every platform, in every domain, without flaw, and at lightning speed.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Dinner @ Delage in Oakland, CA

Delage is a relatively new sushi restaurant in Oakland.  They only offer a 8 course omakase/tasting menu, but it's a very affordable $65 dollars.  The sushi chef there was the former sushi chef from Maruya, which got a Michelin Star while he was there.

So a very affordable omakase from a Michelin star sushi chef in nearby Oakland?  Sign me up.  Here's what the meal looked like.

1) amuse bouche - tuna, mountain yam, cucumber

First up was this amuse dish.  Overall, light, refreshing, and tasty.  A good start to the meal.

2) cherry tomato salad - bing cherries, ume-shiso pesto, confit cherry tomatoes

Our first official course was this salad.  The foam you see on the dish is a yuzu foam which was quite citrus-y.  The pesto and ume sauce were delicious.

3) salmon with Himalayan salt block, Miyazaki beef

This course above was for both me and my date, so we each got one each of the beef & salmon.  I liked the salmon, as it had an interesting salty-kick after having sat on the salt block.  The beef was ok, not as strong a flavor as I was hoping for.

4) nigiri

Our next course was four nigiri sushi.  From left to right we have tuna, sardine, iwana (arctic char), and ika (squid).  Overall, all were delicious although I think I liked the ika/squid the most.  In most places I think the squid is a tad tough, but this was really soft and "smooth".

5) chilled green asparagus soup - bay shrimp, pencil asparagus

Next up was this asparagus soup.  Overall tasty, although on a relatively cool night I think a warm soup would have been better.  I wouldn't blame the restaurant.  We'd recently gone through a heat wave, who knew this random night was gonna be cool :-)  On a much hotter day I probably would have loved this way more.

6) smoked baby corn - togarashi aioli, fried quail egg, cotija cheese

Next up was this interesting dish.  This was not the baby corn I'm used to from Chinese take-out dishes.  The corn was larger and thicker than that, so it was from some variety I'm unfamiliar with.  In addition, underneath it was threads of husk from the corn.  Apparently this variety's husk is soft enough that it's tender enough to eat.  With the aioli, this was delicious.  Probably by favorite non-sushi dish of the night.

7) seared liberty duck - maitake mushroom, senmoto negi, plum compote

Next up was this duck dish.  I really liked the plum compote sauce, although with the relatively thin-cut slices of duck I think it overpowered the duck a bit.  If the duck was cut thicker, I think it would have worked out better.  The senmoto negi (green onion) was a bit on the charred side for my taste, but perhaps that's just me.

8) nigiri

Next up was the second course of sushi.  From left to right we had spanish mackerel, hamachi (yellowtail), snapper, and a scallop donburi.  Overall good although I preferred the first set of nigiri with its stronger flavors.  My girlfriend liked this set better because she prefers the more mild flavors.  So to each their own.  However, we both agreed the scallop donburi was delicious and possible the best sushi/sashimi of the night.  You may have trouble seeing it in the picture, but there are small cubes of soy-sauce gelatin on top that sort of melt/explode in your mouth.  It was really tasty.

9) homemade strawberry ice cream, strawberry coulis

And finally some ice cream for dessert.

Overall, I was happily full and not too stuffed at the end.  For $65 dollars, it's a relatively good deal for a 8 course omakase meal.  I wouldn't say the meal was as good as Kusakabe, but you're also getting a much better price.

My only knock against Delage on this trip is there was a bit of timing issues in their service.  A few dishes came out cooler than perhaps optimal.  However, I want to be fair to them.  They opened on June 7th, so this is a relatively new place and may be working out the kinks.  This was only their fourth weekend in business and with it being the July 4th weekend, it's possible it was the first time they have been fully booked.  I expect things to be optimized in time.