Apr 10

Home brewing from FDR, cooking up!


So last week I kicked off the Portola Planet’s first attempt at a brew from the new home brew store, Ferment, Drink, Repeat, on San Bruno Ave. After speaking with FDR’s owner, Kevin, we selected the Little Bitty Brown Ale as our first batch. We purchased all the gear and then on Wednesday evening, fired up the stove and cooked up 5 gallons.

The instructions from FDR were pretty easy to follow. We started by steeping the bag of grains in 2 gallons of just boiled water. This very quickly turned our, what was now wort, a nice dark brown. After 30 minutes, we increased the temperature and brought the pot to a vigorous boil and added the large can of malt extract and started the 60 minute timer. Adding the UK grown East Kent Goldings hops and keeping the boil moving, while around 45 minutes latter introducing more malt into the mix.


At this point we had a wonderful smell in the house and it was time to bring the whole hot mixture down so we could add the yeast. Kevin stressed how important it was to bring the temp below 80F to ensure the yeast wasn’t killed. This was quite a challenge and used up the entire ice reserves in our freezer and required a bath full of water. I think the next time around I will definitely spend the extra and use a copper immersion wort chiller.


After much agitation to get the temp down, it was finally time to add the yeast and then seal up the whole bucket of wort to start the fermenting process. The bucket, now with a total of 5 gallons of brewing beer, was moved downstairs into my office where it could sit at a constant 70F and bubble away for the week. The next step will be to move the beer from the bucket into a 5 gallon carboy after 10 days, wait 3 more days and then finally top up 48 bottles and get ever closer to drinking our first Portola brewed FDR beer…


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/04/home-brewing-from-fdr-cooking-up/

Mar 26

Portola Porter in the Brewing…

Actually, it’s going to be a brown ale. A little bitty brown ale to be exact. But we may well try and brew a Porter in the future.

So this week the most awesome new business on San Bruno Ave opened it’s doors, first for the retail home brewing business and then second (on Wednesday) for the delivery of large micro brewery equipment for the first Portola beer to be created. On Wednesday morning I nipped down to see Shae and Kevin and to get a look at progress so far. They’ve had huge delays in the past year with the usual San Francisco permit and hoops small business needs to jump through. But finally the end is in sight.

As I walked through the door early Wednesday morning, they were in the middle of bringing in the large brewing equipment, where Kevin and awarding winning American home brewers, will soon be cooking up some top class ales and lagers. The equipment is all U.S.A. made from Bridgetown Brew Systems in Portland.

Brewing tanks being installed

Brewing tanks being installed

The retail shop also opened this week, allowing anyone to come in and start brewing beer at home. Being an impatient person, I couldn’t wait for Kevin to get past his initial test brews and finally open up the tap room, I had to have a go at brewing a batch at home and then compare what I could do with what brew master Kevin will offer.

I recruited the help of neighbors Scott and Paul. We headed down and asked for the simplest beer to start with. Kevin spent a good while going over our options. They have 8 recipes on offer for home brewers to take home. You can either go through the process of creating your own right from the grain, or you can take an easier step (which we decided to do) and use a pre-made extract.

We purchased everything needed to get up and running, and we will be writing a blog article as we go. The cost for the start kit, with all the ingredients needed for a recipe, plus a few extra items (thermometer, beer bottles) was just over $200. This would make us 48 12oz bottles. As you can see in the image above, next time we decide to brew, we are going to get 48 bottles for a cost of around $40.

We chose the “Little Bitty Brown Ale” and considering England is my land of birth, seeing the UK sourced “East Kent Goldings” hops was reassuring. I just hope we can now do it justice and brew a decent beer.

Tomorrow (Sunday) we plan on the first stage. Cooking up the wort, cooling it down and starting the fermenting process. If anyone else in the Portola is planning on brewing up, maybe we should have a summer party and share our experiences!

Brewing equipment and ingredients

Brewing equipment and ingredients

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/03/portola-porter-in-the-brewing/

Feb 25

P.N.A.’s First Community Meeting of 2016 Tonight!

P.N.A.'s new Facebook cover photo of our beautiful neighborhood.

P.N.A.’s new Facebook cover photo of our beautiful neighborhood.

Tonight, Thursday 2/25, is the first Portola Neighborhood Association meeting of 2016.  It starts at 6:30pm at Portola Family Connections, 2565 San Bruno Ave.

The P.N.A. has three community meetings a year, one in February, June & October.  There are also monthly meetings for the various committees: Arts & Beautification, Safety & Transportation and Business Development.  All are open to the public if you wish to join in on the continued efforts to improve our neighborhood.  For more information on what the P.N.A. is up to and committee meeting dates, the P.N.A. Facebook page is very active and the website has a calendar of meetings.

More info on tonight’s meeting:


Our first Community Meeting of 2016 is this Thursday! Join us at Portola Family Connections as we’ll chat about our projects & the projects that our City partners are working on:

Grocery Outlet will be there to chat about their progress & their mural,Walk San Francisco will tell us about Vision Zero and the opportunity to create intersection murals, and SF Water, Power, Sewer (SFPUC) will be there to chat about their CleanPowerSF program!

Lastly (but certainly not least), we’ll have plenty of food from San Bruno’s finest & give you an opportunity to purchase some of our new Portola shirts!


Keep an eye out for the new P.N.A. sandwich board around the neighborhood.

Keep an eye out for the new P.N.A. sandwich board around the neighborhood.  

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/02/p-n-a-s-first-community-meeting-of-2016-tonight/

Feb 22

Portography: Bird On A Wire

My new method of time killing on the 8x to and from work is Instagram.  It’s the perfect distraction from the packed crowd of Chinatown shoppers or the distorted music pumping out from someone’s phone.  This morning I came across a little theme while peeking through photos of our neighborhood, hope you enjoy!

If you feel like sharing your beautiful and interesting photos of the neighborhood, there are some great instagram hashtags already out there and full of content:  #sfgardendistrict, #theportoladistrict, #portoladistrict.  Let me know if anyone has any others to share.


Captured at sunrise by Spyderchyld on Instagram

Captured at sunrise by Spyderchyld on Instagram


Taken by jpsomas on Instagram on the streets of Portola. The owner was sitting on the curb soaking up the sun as well.

Taken by jpsomas on Instagram on the streets of Portola. The owner was sitting on the curb soaking up the sun as well.


Taken by SamRG early Saturday morning on San Bruno Ave.

Taken by me early Saturday morning on San Bruno Ave.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/02/portography-bird-on-a-wire/

Feb 10

The Chronicle Tells the Story of Breakfast At Tiffany’s & Portola Community Involvement

Kash Feng, Portola resident and new owner of Breakfast At Tiffany's. Photo by Liz Hafalia of The Chronicle

Kash Feng, Portola resident and new owner of Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Photo by Liz Hafalia of The Chronicle

When we were looking for a new home two years ago, one of the characteristics of the Portola that attracted us was the high level of community involvement.  As most of us know, there are a lot of dedicated and passionate people involved here.  A fact, reinforced by the numerous community groups serving this small and mostly unknown neighborhood as well as our often maligned but beautiful McLaren Park.

That dedication was recognized a bit more widely yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle. The piece titled, “How an S.F. Neighborhood Saved Its Diner, Breakfast At Tiffany’s” tells the history of the local breakfast spot and how it was almost lost like so many other little diners in S.F.  After the passing of the owner the building was purchased by an S.F. restaurateur and Portola resident, Kash Feng. Much to the disappointment of the restaurant’s dedicated customers, it almost became a higher end noodle house (a concept that I think would be really successful on S.B.A. as well) until the community convinced Kash to revisit the old concept. As anyone who passes down San Bruno Ave now notices, the place is a success, with lines out the door during weekend brunching hours and a steady stream during the week.

15 year customers still coming back to eat at their diner.

Former employees still coming back to eat at their diner.  Photo by Liz Hafalia at The Chronicle

About six months ago, I was sitting at the counter at B.A.T., having breakfast and reading a magazine when a guy, I later found out from North Beach, walked in and sat next to me. He looked around and asked me, “what neighborhood is this?” I naturally jumped at the chance to talk about the Portola.  After I informed him about this diverse blue collar mecca, he responded with, “I didn’t think places like this existed in this city anymore, it’s so busy here and there are so many types of people that I thought had left S.F years ago.”  We chit-chatted a little more until I think I scared him away with my overzealous love for the neighborhood, but that guy saw what I really appreciate about this restaurant.   Aside from the Fried Chicken Benedict and the endlessly refilled old school yellow coffee cups,  the crowd is what makes Breakfast At Tiffany’s so special.  It’s one of the few real places left in this city where people of all walks of life come together for a meal.

The full story is worth the read and can be found on The Chronicle’s website here.

A regular who has been eating at B.A.T. for 15 years. Photo credit by Liz Hafalia at The Chronicle.

A regular who has been eating at B.A.T. for 15 years. Photo credit by Liz Hafalia at The Chronicle.

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/02/chronicle-article-on-breakfast-at-tiffanys/

Feb 05

Portola Co-Stars in Commercial

photo 2

Hot off the heels of our first reality TV appearance, the Portola is being showcased in a new car commercial.  Honda released a new campaign profiling their customer’s and their love for their cars.  Our neighbor and an E.R. Taylor Elementary School Teacher, Indira, appeared with her “Opal Sage” C-RV in this spot.  No mention of its resistance to break-ins but it’s good on gas and can haul a lot of scented markers and construction paper.   There are some lovely B-roll shots of her cruising down our neighborhood streets and it’s a nice little glimpse into the life of another Portolan making a positive difference.

Thanks to Dennis on Nextdoor for the tip.

photo 1


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/02/2734/

Jan 31

Portola Loses Lifelong Advocate

Irene Crescio

Life long Portolan, Irene Crescio, passed away Tuesday peacefully in her sleep.  Irene was a tenacious advocate for the neighborhood, working tirelessly as a board member for the Portola Neighborhood Association into her 80’s.  Her dedication and welcoming demeanor brought together neighbors and won the support of city officials to better the Portola community.

Irene was instrumental in the continuing efforts to beautify San Bruno Ave.   She worked with the city to have the power lines buried and trees planted along the corridor.  She lobbied for the installation of electrical outlets on the street lights which are now being used for the decorative tree lighting she envisioned for the street.   Her dedication to the upkeep of the community was endless as she walked the corridor almost daily maintaining the Lilies, reporting graffiti and burnt out street lamps to the city.

Irene’s giving to the community continues after her passing, her family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the P.N.A.  Irene will be deeply missed by those who had the pleasure of knowing her and her impact on the community will be felt for years to come.

Her obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle:


Irene Crescio
Passed away peacefully on January 26, 2016, loving daughter of the late Mario and Elide Crescio, sister of the late George M. Crescio, loving aunt of Christine Porter Gabrielli (Ron) and Corinne Faulkner (John), beloved great aunt of Katie Faulkner, Sean Faulkner (Jenna) and Michael Porter, sister-in-law of Doris Crescio, cherished cousin of Carol Perez (Tom), Louise Redmond (Bob) and the late Dr. Richard Parodi (Betty).
Lifelong resident of the San Francisco Portola District and 38 year employee of Pac Bell Company. Irene was a proud member of the Portola Neighborhood Association with a continuing commitment to the betterment of the District’s vitality. Irene would be happy that in lieu of flowers donations were made in her name to the Portola Neighborhood Association, Attn: Luke Spray, 2 Burrows St, San Francisco, CA 94134 or Good Shepherd Gracenter, 1310 Bacon Street, San Francisco, CA 94134.
Visitation will begin at 3:00PM Sunday, 1/31/2016, followed by the Rosary Vigil at 6:00PM at Duggan’s Serra Mortuary, 500 Westlake Ave. Daly City. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00AM on Monday, 2/1/2016 at St. Elizabeth Church, 459 Somerset St. at Wayland, SF. Committal will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery, 1500 Mission Rd. Colma. – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/sfgate/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=177507355#sthash.5sT8M3HR.dpuf

Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/01/portola-loses-an-advocate/

Jan 16

Updated: Photos from opening of new Portola art studio

Update: Due to me rushing around over the weekend, I totally forgot to add in links to both Arthur and Lisa’s websites! Here they are.

http://www.frameartstudio.com/ and http://www.arthurkoch.com/

We just got home after a fun few minutes spent at the new art studio at 150 Silliman St. The place was pretty busy when we arrived with probably the most awesome face painting i’ve ever seen. This wasn’t your average children’s party face painting. The artist is Mandy Rita Tardif, you can see some of her amazing work here.IMG_1700
As usual I had both my young boys with me, and they were instantly drawn to the work of Jon Hwong. Jon is the feature artist currently displaying in the space and two of his pieces were purchased within minutes of us walking in. You can see more of Jon’s work at his website, http://jonhw.format.com/


I also got a chance to briefly meet with Lisa and Arthur who described how the space will be used. There will be art classes, photography sessions, featured artists and they will also be offering framing services. It was a great opening and we look forward to seeing their space grow.


Permanent link to this article: http://portolaplanet.com/2016/01/photos-from-opening-of-new-portola-art-studio/

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