Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sugar Is Sweet . . .


In the beginning there was the Sears candy counter. Here one might indulge in a Nonpareil or some Swedish Fish. This begat the Sweet Factory, where individuals could fill their own bags of candy from what seemed like an unending supply of choices. Fill your bag too full and the price based on weight would skyrocket! The Sweet Factory was a virtual Willy Wonka candy emporium!

For beverages it began with the Orange Julius and the Icee. As an adult, the frozen drinks were still desirable so new "grown up" themed ice blended drinks became available. For the health conscious there was Jamba Juice and for the caffeine addicted there was Starbucks.

Originally ice cream came in Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors. Then the frozen yogurt craze took over and it was all about Penguins. In the years to come instead of crushing brownies on top of your frozen yogurt you were mixing in Fruity Pebbles or Mochi at places like Pinkberry or YoCup. Not to be outdone the Cold Stone Creamery arrived on the scene with unique flavors and the opportunity for patrons to mix candy into their ice cream.

The first giant cookie I remember came from the Great American Cookie Company. In the years that followed every mall had a Mrs. Fields where one would find Debra's seasonal special.

Honorable mention goes to those deliciously aromatic calorie filled Cinnamon rolls available at Cinnabon. They held their dominance in the mall dessert field until people realized just how bad they were for you.

Clearly over time what is considered a popular treat has evolved. In the last decade the dessert du jour has been the Cupcake. Here in San Francisco there are cross town rivals Kara's Cupcakes and That Takes The Cake. Those two businesses however are no where near as famous as Sprinkles Cupcakes.

But has the cupcake's time in the spotlight come to an end? If it has, what possibly could take its place?

One might argue that the cream puff is leveraging a power play for next world dominance in the dessert industry.

In the Bay Area, most people are aware of Beard Papa's cream puffs. This treat is an import from Japan. Beard Papa's locations tend to have lines down the block.

This month a new cream puff store opened on Union Street. Pacific Puffs offers homemade small batch cream puffs from a family recipe. The shop was launched by two brothers. Samples of their offerings are pictured above.

I tried the traditional vanilla cream with chocolate frosting and a chocolate cream with powdered sugar. I enjoyed both.

Was it better that Beard Papa's?

I think the filling was a little denser and I liked that.

Here is my concern.

Beard Papa's has a more diversified menu that includes Cheesecake sticks, Fondant Au Chocolate, and Mochi Ice Cream. Pacific Puffs currently only sells cream puffs in about five choices. Pacific Puffs also has the cupcake competition of That Takes The Cake just down the block. Not to mention two businesses offering frozen yogurt across the street.

While I enjoyed trying the cream puffs, I think Pacific Puffs is going to need to diversify its menu if it is going to survive as a stand alone store front.

That being said, best of luck to the cream puff as you try to take America by storm!

That Song Of The Day - Sugar Is Sweet by The Party

Lovely Day . . .

Just Jon would like to wish his parents a Happy 40th Wedding Anniversary! Congratulations to the both of you!

The Song Of The Day - Lovely Day by Bill Withers

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I Want To Ride On A White Horse . . .

Last week when I was riding the 30x to work I saw out the window some new sculptures in a courtyard of an office building along Market Street.

These larger than life horse sculptures look like they are made of driftwood.

Last night I got a closer look at these amazing pieces of art and am happy to share these photos with you.

From what I have been able to gather on the Internet, these horses were created by Deborah Butterfield and were part of an exhibit that ran from July 15 to August 29 at the Gallery Paule Anglim. They are made of bronze and wood.

The Song Of The Day - Ride A White Horse by Goldfrapp

It's A Matter Of Taste . . .

Last weekend I had the pleasure of enjoying a wonderful meal with family. My godmother Joanne, her husband Mike, and daughter Jacqueline were moving Jacqueline back to the Bay area for art school.

As an added bonus Joanne's cousin Lorenza and her husband Marco from Italy came along to help with the move and then enjoy a few days in the City.

On Saturday I was able to join them at Scoma's Restaurant at Fisherman's Wharf. Joanne had called the week before to see if I would be able to go to dinner and had said that they would like to go to Scoma's.

I had never heard of Scoma's, but since that initial call, Scoma's seems to keep popping up everywhere I go. Scoma's was established in 1965 and is allegedly the most popular fish restaurant in San Francisco. That last bit of information I learned the other day when I saw an advertisement for the restaurant on the F Line Trolley.

After my call with Joanne I went on the Internet so I could look at Scoma's menu and to find out where it was located. The menu is predominately fish and pasta but there are some beef dishes.

Later that afternoon I happened to be walking down at Fisherman's Wharf and looked up at the right moment to see a sign that said "Scoma's." This restaurant had its own alleyway. For all the times that I had walked along this street I did not even realize that there was a restaurant tucked back amongst the boats at the wharf.

When Saturday finally rolled around Joanne suggested we try for an early dinner as Scoma's does not take reservations. We met at 4pm and the restaurant was already 75% full.

I ordered the Crab Ravioli. The house-made Ravioli came with Champagne Beurre Blanc, Swiss Chard and Fried Leeks. I will be honest, I don't even know what half those things are. The dish, which is pictured above, was beyond decadent. The crab combined with the sauce was buttery rich!

Everyone enjoyed their meal. What made the evening even more special was that it was already paid for by my cousin Joe in Virginia. Several times throughout the meal we raised our glasses of wine to toast Joe for being so generous and buying this dinner from the other side of the country.

By the time we left the restaurant the waiting area, bar and entrance were full of patrons waiting for their turn to enjoy a meal of fresh fish.

The Song Of The Day - Too Much Food by Jason Mraz

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Oven Is Hot . . .

This is why I should not be allowed in the kitchen.

For some reason I think I am one step away from discovering the next "Nestle Toll House" cookie recipe and I refuse to accept that I should just stick to following the instructions on the bag.

I get these crazy ideas that I can just combine two products together and it will work out fine.

About two years ago I was sitting on the couch thinking about how much I loved Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and how much I like Chocolate Chip Cookies and how amazing it would be if I could make a Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie.

So that became my mission. My first attempt used the Nestle Toll House recipe with a fresh banana mixed in. That didn't work out because the banana made the batter too moist and the cookies just spread out like a pancake. But I was not going to throw them out. I ate every horrible bite of those cookies.

My next attempt at Banana Chocolate Chip cookies I decided to again base it off the Nestle Toll House Recipe. This time however I threw in a package of banana pudding mix! This batch wasn't so bad. It was a little salty because there was salt in the pudding mix so I probably should not have added the salt that the Toll House Recipe called for.

My mom even got in on the act when she found Banana Extract at the store and bought it for me. (I have yet to try the recipe with the Banana Extract.)

All this leads to today when I started thinking about how great Cold Stone Cake Batter Ice Cream is. Wouldn't it be great to have a Cake Batter flavored cookie?

So that is when the hot mess of a cookie/cupcake/disaster shown above came to be.

I took Golden Yellow Cake mix and used parts of the Nestle Toll House Recipe again. But I couldn't just do that, no I felt these cookies needed a little extra umph. So I threw in Rice Krispies and Chocolate Chips.

I shoved those bad boys into the oven and proceeded to watch the cookie spread out like water across the cookie sheet.


I pulled the cookie sheet out of the oven and quickly tried to scoop up the batter and put it into cupcake foils.

Let's just say I am not even sure if these are edible.

The Song Of The Day - Martika's Kitchen by Martika

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fresh And New . . .

Welcome to the fresh and new Just Jon!

I wanted to update the blog.

I created a new banner since most of the stories featured in the blog take place in San Francisco. I thought it would be great to make that part of the background theme.

The image of the Golden Gate Bridge is one of my favorite shots I have taken and I think it fits here nicely.

You will also find some slight layout changes. The Blog Archives are now located on the left hand side.

You will also see that Just Jon now has advertisements. This is in partnership with Google and the products featured are not necessarily condoned by me.

I hope you enjoy the update!

Ring My Bell . . .

On Friday Aug 21, 2009 The Gap celebrated its 4oth birthday!

I have had the pleasure of working for this Company for almost 16 years! In honor of this milestone birthday the Company was selected to ring the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange live from our San Francisco headquarters.

Everyone started to gather in the atrium of the lobby about two hours before the actual bell ringing. We listened to singer Matt White, who had worked with us on the "Vote for ____" campaign sing "Forever In Blue Jeans."

Everyone was armed with noise makers and bells and in the hours that preceded the event we practiced ringing, cheering and waving.

As it drew closer to 1pm, Gap North America President Marka Hansen and Board Member and founders' son Bob Fisher came out to do several live interviews. You can watch one of the clips with Maria Bartiromo of CNBC here.

At 1 O'clock the Executive Leadership Team and members of the Founders Family came out to ring the closing bell.

Here is the actual bell ringing:

The Song Of The Day - Ring My Bell by Anita Ward

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Born To Do It . . .

A couple of months ago we had the opportunity to have our pictures taken at work for an upcoming promotion. We were asked to write down what we were "Born To Do" and fill out a short questionnaire.

I said I was "Born To Blog."

I then had about ten photos taken by a professional photographer. To be honest I was a little worried about what photo they might use in the campaign as they asked us to have fun in the shots and I know there are several embarrassing photos of me doing the "running man."

Today my photo became available on the Internet!

After 16 years I am finally a Gap model!

The photos appear randomly on the website, so you can go to and see if you can find me! Once there click on the "Born To Share" tab and then launch the application by clicking on the bar of photos.

Loyal Readers may also see some of my friends who have been featured in this blog too!

The Song Of The Day - Fill Me In by Craig David

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Winner Of The Game . . .

Beautiful day, nothing to do, so why not go to a Giants game? It's never sold out!

The 1:05 pm game had the Giants facing off against the Cincinnati Reds.

After failing to round up any friends for my last minute decision to go to a baseball game, I decided I should just go by myself.

So at noon I boarded the 47 bus and headed down to the ballpark with no ticket. Perhaps my only mistake was wearing a t-shirt that said "Los Angeles." Fortunately the t-shirt is black and I don't think anyone noticed.

I arrived at the stadium at 1pm and the crowds were filtering through the gates.

There actually was a pretty long line to buy tickets.

As I was looking for the end of the line I heard the woman walking next to me calling out,

"Anyone need a single ticket?"

"I do! Where is the seat?"

"It's just the bleachers, and hey it gets you into the park and it's fun out there," she said.

That was fine by me, so I started to pull out my cash, but only had twenties. The ticket price was $25.00.

"Do you have change for a $20?" I asked.

"$20 is fine," she said.

And with that I bypassed the line and walked into the stadium.

I went straight to the souvenir stand to pick up a new Giants baseball cap. Hopefully that will distract anyone from noticing my "Los Angeles" shirt.

I then got in line for a Giant Dog, some Stadium Nachos, and a water.

My seat was in dead center field with all the people from Virgin America who were being welcomed at the game today.

The Giants won 4 to 2 in the top of the ninth!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Walking . . .

I have so much vacation time built up at work I decided to take Friday off and enjoy a day in the City. As I thought about what I might want to do I decided that I would check out the infamous Lyon Street Stairs.

I have heard about the Lyon Street Stairs for three years and have always wanted to attempt to make the climb to the top. So at 11am I left the comforts of my apartment and started walking.

I headed down Chestnut Street until I reached Lyon where I made a right hand turn to head toward the stairs. I had a slight headache so I was worried about whether I would be able to complete the climb with my head throbbing. But, my three year desire to see these stairs pushed me forward.

And there they rose out from the slight incline at the end of the street. It was now or never. I could see there were true athletes who were jogging up and down these steps. That was not going to be me. I was going to take it one step at a time with frequent stops for pictures.

Here we go!

Woo Hoo! I made it to the first landing! What a great view of the Bay and the Marina.

At the next landing was one of the many Heart sculptures that are scattered across the City.

Up more steps I climbed.

And then I reached the top!

Hey, I think my headache is going away!

Now that I had reached the top I hadn't really thought about where I wanted to go next. I saw there was a gate into the Presidio off to the right so I decided to see where it lead to.

It lead to trees.

On the path I went until I eventually arrived at this sign that informed me I was on "Lovers Lane." This path had been used since the late 1800's for soldiers to travel from the Presidio into San Francisco. That was then.

This is now.

I might as well keep going right?

So on I went. Through the Presidio. Past the bowling alley. Past the future Walt Disney Museum. One step at a time.

Past the cemetery. Past the horse stables. On towards the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then I saw a sign that said "Scenic Route and Log Cabin."

Log Cabin? That's where I am going to go!

I stayed on the road hoping I was heading in the right direction to get to this Log Cabin. All the while stopping to take pictures for tourists who wanted to have a snap shot of themselves with the Bay in the background.

I started to think I had made a wrong turn so I stopped twice to ask workers if I still heading toward the Log Cabin.

Both times the workers said, "Yes, it's just around the curve."

I felt like I had been heading around this curve for a really long time.

I mean I had now reached the Golden Gate Bridge and there was still no Log Cabin. But I trusted the workers and kept going.

Oh thank God!

Just past the Golden Gate Bridge I came upon this sign.

"Log Cabin Next Left."

I got to the intersection and turned left. I didn't see any Log Cabin. But I kept walking.

Then just beyond the trees I saw it! The Log Cabin.

And the Log Cabin, yeah, it was not what I was expecting. It was just a hall you can rent for wedding receptions or parties. I thought it was going to be a museum or something. I was a little disappointed. I mean I was a lot disappointed.

And the worst part, now I had to walk home.

I was also really hungry so I headed back towards Chestnut Street for a late lunch at the Squat and Gobble.

Four and a half hours after I started my walk I arrived home with lots of photos, a slight sun burn and one set of aching feet.

The Song Of The Day - Walking by Pocketsize

Don't Stop Believin' . . .

It's that time of year again!

The annual Day In Action where everyone at work puts on their red volunteer shirt and donates an afternoon of their time to one of several predetermined charities in the Bay Area.

This is my fourth Day In Action.

The first year I had the pleasure of going to the Janet Pomeroy Center where we helped to clean up a garden, remove a hillside of leaves, and play an amazing game of basketball with the center participants. The Janet Pomeroy Center "provides recreation and vocational opportunities for people with disabilities."

The second year our team signed up to save the salmon in the Muir Woods. OK, so I didn't actually work in the stream like some of my co-workers. My job was to remove logs from the forest. No joke! You didn't know I was that strong did you? A fun little trivia fact for you Loyal Readers is that the part of the forest that I was removing the logs from is where they filmed Star Wars Return Of The Jedi.

The third year I got to pull weeds at Lake Merced. You can read about that event in the blog entry from last year titled I Like To Move It.

This year I got to participate in a very rewarding project. My co-workers and I volunteered to spend the afternoon on Treasure Island with the students of the Job Corps. The "Job Corps is the nation's largest residential education and vocational training program for the economically disadvantaged youth."

Our project was to work one on one with an individual student to help them with their resume, share with them how to prepare for a job interview, and role play a mock job interview. This was also the only project where we were instructed not to wear our red volunteer shirts as they suggested we dress as if we were going to an actual job interview. This meant my co-workers and I had to dress up more than what we would normally wear to work every day.

I really liked this project because I felt like I could see the positive impact I was having on a person's life.

The young woman I worked with had such a light in her eyes that I hope that the Job Corps will be able to help her in her future path to success.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wear Your Love . . .

  • Suggested donation to get into your co-workers charity fundraiser "Boozin' For Boobs" in support of the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk - $10.00
  • Cab ride to go less than two miles to get to the bar where the event was held - $7.00
  • Specialty Hooter Shooter shots - $3.00
  • Two rounds of pool paid for by someone else - Free
  • Having people come up and ask about your skinny floral tie that was "stitched with love" by your Aunt Ronda out of left over fabric from a dress - Priceless
For more information about the Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk go to - Breast Friends 4-Ever