John, Christian, and I climb into the back of Little Blue, their vintage Toyota Pick-Up and the star of their own blog to discuss Dolores Park, adventures with San Franciscan foodies, and muscular parrots. The following is a delightful interview full of tangents, canned champagne, and laughter.
Kimberly: Alright, I’m going to set this down. Well, actually, I’m going to hold it. Because I’m worried that if I set it down that something might muffle it.
John: We want to record our pure voices.
Kimberly [Laughing]: Your pure voices. As you finish sharing your sandwich.
Christian: Here, let me just get… [paper being crumpled]…
John: Maybe you should hold the recorder up to my mouth while I chew.
Christian [Still crumpling paper]: I don’t want to create too much…[extremely loud crumpling sounds, as though Christian was holding paper right up to the dictaphone and crumpling paper directly into the recorder, which he was]
Kimberly: I’m going to write in that crinkling sound.
[One last blast of crumpled paper sounds and lots of laughing]
Kimberly: I’ll use onomatopoeia. Crinkle! Crack! Crunch! Exclamation point!
Christian: “John and Christian have just finished their sandwiches.” Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle…
Christian: We’re in the back of Little Blue.
Kimberly: Yes, I was getting ready to ask you. So where are we? Christian, where are we?
Christian: Um, we’re in the back of Little Blue…um…our truck. Our, like, Toyota Truck. Our blue Toyota truck that’s, like…
Kimberly [Laughing]: Is it a truck?
Christian: It’s a truck!
John: It’s a pick-up!
Kimberly: It is a little pick-up.
Christian: I guess if I keep saying truck, it doesn’t really describe it in more detail, huh?
Kimberly: It’s like an old truck. It’s an old-ass truck.
John: It’s a 1978 Toyota pick-up. It is the color of…
Kimberly: …the sky.
John: Very ripe blueberries.
Kimberly: Oh yeah, that’s more accurate. The sky is not this color of blue.
Christian: A little less purple, but yeah.
John: And we are parked on the north side of the street, on 20th street, just above Dolores.
Kimberly: OK. Dolores Park, which I, as a San-Francisco expert and inhabitant [note: inhabitant, yes, expert, pas de question] now know about, but for those people reading who haven’t been to San Francisco yet, describe Dolores Park to me.
John: Um, Dolores Park is…
Christian: It’s named after Saint Dolores.
Kimberly: Is it?! Saint Dolores, patron saint of picnic-ers…
John: So the Mission…The Mission neighborhood got its name because the Spanish missionaries founded the first Western settlement on the San Francisco peninsula. Here, right in this neighborhood. And it was called Mission Dolores.
John: And so Dolores Park takes its name from the old Mission. Which, the original building is still right down the street.
Christian: Just a few blocks away, right?
John: Yeah, and there’s a cemetery with graves from, like, the 1700s.
Kimberly: Oooooooh! I didn’t know any of this!
John: It’s very creepy.
Kimberly: So, see, I’m learning things.
Christian: It might actually be over there [pointing].
Kimberly: I was…
Christian: I mean, there’s more history…
John: There’s some more dead people there, yeah.
Christian: Next time we park, and have lunch, let’s go to the cemetery in Dolores Mission.
Kimberly: Once upon a time, I had a friend who came to visit me in Paris, because I lived right down the street from Père Lachaise cemetery. And she wanted to brunch in the cemetery. And I canceled last minute. I was like, that’s creepy to me. To eat on top of dead people. But I guess technically we’re all eating on top of dead people all the time.
John: There are dead people everywhere.
Christian: It’s creepy. I mean, I’ve done it. The cemeteries are beautiful.
Kimberly: I think it used to be done… People used to picnic in cemeteries.
John: Well, I mean, Dia de los Muertos is all about having a party on people’s graves.
Kimberly: This conversation has already gone in a weird direction.
John: We’ve veered…it’s okay.
Christian: I mean, we have a weird connection with death here. In America, in our culture.
John: I don’t know what you’re saying.
Christian: I could go deeper.
John: So, go back to what we were talking about.
Kimberly: I want to get back to that later though!
John [Speaking while Christian and I laugh maniacally in the background] : So, Dolores Park is a park about the size of a whole city block. And it is on a hill, so it’s sloped. And at the top of the hill, you have views of downtown, and the most northern and eastern parts of the city. It’s a great view, very beautiful. There’s lots of palm trees. There is a park for young children. There are little slides and stuff like that. And there’s kind of a flat area [A motorcycle obnoxiously revs its engine as it passes by us]. Adult cheerleaders perform there sometimes.
Kimberly: Oh yeah, you were telling me about the adult cheerleader squad that comes and practices here sometimes.
John: Yes, yes, that was what was happening while I was here last time.
Kimberly: And people…I get the feeling that this is a place where people like to picnic. I’ve walked by before in the evening and people are sitting outside with their friends on a nice day, having a drink.
John: Yeah, when it’s a beautiful weekend day, in the afternoon, the park is, like, popping off.
Christian: Yeah, you can do anything here, it’s a park for everyone, it’s the people’s park. You can bring your dog here, walk it in the morning, you can come here after work and have a beer, you can party here on the weekend.
John: On the weekend, there are people walking around selling edibles or you can buy a cocktail that’s in a coconut.
Kimberly: I didn’t know about the coconut. I knew about the edibles because I knew somebody…whom you guys know as well…but I won’t say his name.
John: On tape, anyway.
Kimberly: Yeah, for the interview…but he texted me and said, “I just did a bunch of edibles in Dolores Park.” And he was tripping balls.
[John mouths name of person to me and I nod in agreement]
Christian: Yeah, yeah…
John: That’s pretty amazing.
Kimberly: Anyway! OK. Tell me…OK, so we’re in Dolores Park and you did a really good job describing Dolores Park.
John: There are tennis courts also.
Christian: There are tennis courts and there’s also…there’s lots of lawn. It’s very green.
Kimberly: Yeah, a lot of grassy space.
Christian: A lot of grass.
Kimberly: A lot of grassy knoll.
John: One time I was here and there were a number of people…it’s like a thing in San Francisco to have a really muscular parrot as a pet.
Kimberly : A muscular parrot?
John: Like a really advanced parrot, you know? So, like a pirate…like a pirate would have. So, on really busy days, people will show up with their parrot to kind of show off their parrots.
John: So they’ll launch the parrots and the parrots will, like, FLY! And swooooooop down. Just be super majestic. And everyone in the park will be like, “WHOA!”
Christian: John’s thinking about getting a parrot.
John: And then… No, I’m not.
Kimberly: Do not get a parrot. I’ll never come to your apartment again.
John: One time I was here and there was this woman who had released her parrot, and after the parrot flew around for a little while, she put her hand to her mouth and she…[Imitating] “Caw! Caw!” And she put her arm out and the parrot came and landed on her arm. And everyone in the park was like, [Clapping] “Whooaaaaa! Wow!” [Five minutes of laughter follow]
Kimberly: Oh my god!
John: Bird woman!
Kimberly: They used to do that in the Middle Ages with, like, falcons. Like that’s how they would hunt…game. They’d catch rabbits and stuff.
John: Yeah, for sure.
Kimberly: But people in San Francisco do it with their parrots. Have you ever seen a parrot, like, maul a small dog?
John: No, but that danger is there, certainly. And I think that parrots are a little more tame.
Christian: There are wild parrots, too. I saw some last night.
John: There are wild parrots, yes.
Kimberly: I read an article once where people decide to get an exotic animal and then they change their mind so they just abandon it. This happens a lot with snakes. And then they take over areas. Like, there are all of these parrots and exotic birds that people just let go. And there are parts of Florida and Louisiana where people have let exotic snakes go.
John: Wasn’t that the plot behind “Anaconda”? The film with Jennifer Lopez? And Ice Cube?
Kimberly: OK, I’m going to bring us back in.
John: But, yes, there are also parrots. There are like flocks of parrots that live in San Francisco. And they fly between Telegraph Hill and…
Christian:…and Lone Mountain?
John: Lone Mountain or they live in between in the forested areas.
Christian: Yeah, and in the Inner Mission, too.
Kimberly: I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for these wild parrots. OK, tell me about Little Blue. Because Little Blue is more than a truck. Little Blue is your blog as well.
Christian: Yeah, it’s kind of a lifestyle. It’s getting out there and using what you have, and what we have is this truck.
John: And our bodies.
Kimberly: To what end? What purpose?
Christian: What purpose? You know, we really believe in using all of this space that’s out there. Using all that we can. So we love to hang out with friends. And we love to eat and drink. And kind of explore the city. So being out here parked out here, on the side of the street, drinking Riesling out of a can, and having some good sammies…it’s kind of…it feels like an adventure, you know? In our own city.
Kimberly: I love that. There are other cities…in Paris, for example, everyone is envious of the person with a boat. Because you want to go and sit on the boat and drink a glass of wine and hang out with your friends. This is your boat, basically.
John: Who has a boat?
Kimberly: I don’t know anybody who has a boat but some people have a boat. Have you never…
John: Where do they keep their boats? In Normandy?
Kimberly: On the Seine! Have you never walked along the Seine and seen all of these rich people having a picnic on their boat?
Kimberly: And been like, “Those motherfuckers!”
Kimberly: Oh my god, I’m so jealous. But this is like your boat. You started this blog with the idea of tailgating with fellow food people in the back of your truck.
Kimberly: Because I think it’s important now to outline your relationship with the food and wine industry. Christian, do you want to start? I made that sound very formal, I know…
John: That’s okay.
Christian: No, it’s fine. I mean, we started this…a lot of our friends are in the food and wine world.
Kimberly: You’re a chef.
Christian: I’m a chef, I work at Zuni Cafe. And I’ve done a lot of food stuffs. I grew up in a restaurant, my parents had a little restaurant when I was growing up. And I worked in some restaurants, I worked in some markets. I’ve done a lot of random food stuff. But I think why we hang out with these people is, 1) we’re close to a lot of these food people, and 2) for the blog, it just makes sense to hang out with people who are very comfortable with food and wine. The idea is to get people out of their element a little bit. But also, they are usually more open to the idea of driving somewhere and cooking out the back of our truck if they have experience already cooking professionally or have some sort of love for it.
Kimberly: I like the idea of getting them out of their element. Like, we’re going to…this is going to be a relaxed conversation. Between friends. Instead of…in their domain, where all of their tools, everything is there. You…you’re in the back of a truck. So you have to improvise a little.
John: The whole idea of urban tailgating is that you can turn any little patch of street into a place, a gathering place.
Kimberly: Like a boat.
John: Like a boat. Yeah, like a boat. On asphalt. So we’re here on the side of the road, by Dolores Park, but just over there, in the park, is a lovely place to hang out. But we’ve transformed this parking space into…
Kimberly: The most EXCLUSIVE restaurant in San Francisco.
John: Yeah, exactly!
Kimberly: There is a sense of exclusivity. Right? You have had…
John: We’ve toyed with the idea, and we have had events with a more open invitation…well, we did that once. We’ve toyed with the idea of doing something like that. Just serving coffee out of the back of the truck. In a more heavily trafficked area, and just talking to people who walk by. And I think that’s probably something that we’ll do.
Kimberly: Oh, I like that!
John: I think it’s a fun idea.
Christian: Yeah, the whole blog is a really fun way to invite… It’s close friends whom we know really well, but sometimes it’s people we don’t know at all. And we feel like it would be cool to become friends with them. And to see what connections we have in the city.
Kimberly: It’s allowed you to meet chefs and people connected…because you’re a chef, and John is in the wine business. John, would you like to tell me what you do really quickly?
Kimberly: Or tell our readers. I already know.
John: I sell wine for a company called Terra Firma. Mainly imported French and Italian wines. Before that, I worked in the restaurant industry, I was a wine director at a restaurant called Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown in San Francisco.
Kimberly: Yes. I wanted to get back to…you guys were talking about meeting people. Sometimes you do things in Little Blue with friends, like today, sometimes you meet people whom you’ve never met before. Do you have, both of you, a little story or anecdote about a time in Little Blue? It can be with a friend, it doesn’t have to be with a stranger or anybody famous. But is there anything you’d like to share?
John: Um…Sure. I mean, I think one of the first ones we did is actually still one of my favorites. We invited our friend Eric who is a chef here in San Francisco. He was most recently chef at Black Sands Brewery. And he took us to this beautiful intersection in Potrero Hill, which is a neighborhood on the eastern part of San Francisco… He took us to this beautiful intersection and it was the intersection of this random little street called Southern Cross and 20th Street? 19th? Anyway, at the very top of Potrero Hill, and on one side you could totally see all of Twin Peaks and the western side of the city. Down one street, you could see all of downtown, and down the eastern street, kind of descending, you could see the bay. Just this panoramic view. Really, really incredible. And it was on Memorial Day and so we took our tiny little grill and we grilled sausages.
Kimberly: Oh, I’ve read that one before!
John: That was one of the first ones and we just drank beers and ate sausages and people would drive by and roll down their windows and go, “That’s such a good idea!” Also, the city on the holidays gets so calm and relaxed. Because everyone just leaves. They leave for the holidays, out of town for the weekend or whatever. And so the city just has this very slow…
Kimberly: Village vibe.
John: Jello-y vibe. Just walking through Jello.
Kimberly: The Jello Vibe.
John: You know what I mean.
Kimberly: I like that story, that’s a good one. Christian, would you like…we’ll end with your anecdote. I was going to ask you for some SF tips but I feel like, let’s end with your anecdote about Little Blue. I’ll interview you guys about other stuff later.
John: Yeah, We Should Know Better kind of stuff?
Kimberly: Yeah . Because we should know better.
Christian: I mean, who else have we hung out with? A lot of fun people. Um…
Kimberly: I just want to point out while Christian is thinking…there’s this, oh she disappeared! There was this old woman up in that window who was staring straight down at us.
John: Which window?
Christian: She likes to watch us.
Kimberly: Literally, as soon as I pointed…the very top one. She turned around immediately when I pointed.
John: Maybe you saw a ghost.
Kimberly: Oh no! We’re back to dead people!
John: I like this building, I would totally live in this building.
Kimberly: With an amazing view, probably.
John: Oh yeah, insane.
Kimberly: OK, Christian.
Christian: Well, I think. Wow…um…
Kimberly: Has anything crazy ever happened?
Christian: Well, there are a couple. One time we did a little coffee pop-up out of the back of our truck. In our neighborhood. And I did kind of an open invitation, anyone can come. We were going to be parked at McCallister and Baker. From 10-12 or something. And John and I made cold brew overnight and we had some snacks and we had a friend who baked some scones. And it was just…not that many people actually showed up, maybe like five or six.
John: There were like thirty people there!
Christian: There were three hundred people there.
Kimberly: There was a line all the way down to there…
John: And we both looked really good.
Kimberly: I know you both looked really good.
John: That’s what Little Blue is all about.
Christian: Yeah, I actually had an old family friend who was just visiting San Francisco that day. And he just stopped by and was like, “Hey, I haven’t seen you in like 12 years! How are you doing?” And I was kind of shocked.
Kimberly: It’s a way of connecting with people, reconnecting with people.
Christian: Mhm. I don’t know, it just felt like a casual enough situation where he was like, I’m going to stop by and see what Christian’s doing. And drink some coffee and hang out in San Francisco.
Kimberly: I think that, if I had to end with a thought…which I don’t have to. But it’s that this is…this truck knows it’s food and drink. But it’s completely unpretentious and just laid back. I think that’s what’s cool is that is has all of this knowledge that you guys bring to it but it’s a super relaxed setting.
Christian: Totally. It’s meant to be an adventure. It really is, with food, but with people. The first time we ever had an official blog post was with our friends Valerie and Katie and they took us to Chinatown and we hung out at the top of this parking garage.
John: We went through the barrier. We weren’t supposed to be up there.
Christian: We weren’t supposed to.
John: These little golf carts kept driving by and telling us to leave.
Christian: They told us to leave.
John: And our friend Val was like, We made some soup for you.
Christian: Would you like some soup?
Kimberly: I need to meet this Valerie person, you’ve talked to me about her before. [We’ve now met]. Valerie, if you’re reading! [She’s not.] Call me! [You don’t have to.] All right, let’s end with that.
Christian: How long was that?
John: How was that, was that good?
Kimberly: It’s…still…going…but I want our readers to know that I thought that was great.