Michelle and I tend our backyard garden every summer, and one of our joys is seeing the first produce of the year slowly ripen on the plants. Just this week our first cherry tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are finally ripening, and so yesterday I took a few pictures of the glorious first fruits:
The tomatoes were in some nice diffusely-lit shade, and that’s what you see above – I used a tripod to stabilize the camera, but otherwise didn’t need anything else.
But since I’ve been having fun experimenting with off camera lighting recently, I decided to pull out my lighting gear and try some “studio” style lighting on the fruits.
What a difference lighting makes! The black background makes the fruits pop out visually, thanks to less visual clutter, but I think it also makes the scene look more artificial (or as though it was taken at night). My favorite comment so far comes from my dad, who said that the fruit look like two “hot Jupiters”. Little tomato planets floating in space; I like it.
1 Two snooted flashes were setup, one on either side of the fruit, and I used my gray card to shade the background from the primary flash’s illumination. Both flashes also had great natural gobos: the branches of the plant itself.
Gourmet food trucks are all the rage right now in Southern California. Luckily for me, there’s a gathering of them every Thursday from 11-2pm at the Orange County Fairgrounds, which is just a short walk from my office at OCC. And there are other meetups nearby as well: SoCo Collection has food trucks Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturday at lunch and Fridays for dinner.
Many trucks focus on meat, meat, and more meat, possibly with fries on the side. While this is delicious and all, there’s a decided lack of non-potato vegetables and non-meaty entrees. Don’t get me wrong; Louks has their delicious felafel gyro, Chomp Chomp has a great tofu burger, Flying Pig has their crunchy tofu bun, Crepes Bonaparte has a variety of non-meat fillings, Spud Runners has excellent grilled cheese sandwiches, and Chunk ‘n Chip’s ice cream sandwiches are to die for, but my favorite truck has to be Seabirds.
At Seabirds, their specialty is fresh and flavorful vegan burritos, tacos, burgers, soups and more. But don’t let the vegan designation scare you away: their food is delicious.
They do wonderful things with jackfruit; the taco above is probably my favorite menu item. Another fan favorite is their beer-battered avocado tacos:
Takoyaki are a delicious treat: they’re a ball of savory fried dough with a custardy interior filled with bits of onions, peppers, and a chunk of meaty octopus. They’re often served covered in a slightly sweet sauce and topped with shaved bonito (dried fish).
Takoyaki on display in a box
I was introduced to Takoyaki by watching them being made on Dotch, a Japanese cooking show. I’ve since gotten to eat them at a couple of local Japanese restaurants (most notably Kohryu, my favorite ramen place), but had never seen them made in person.
Then, a few weeks ago, I went to a Japanese food festival at Mitsuwa Marketplace to be greeted by this happy sight just inside the entrance: