We have been framed!

The Art Of Framing

Thanksgiving was a lot of Cremant de Limoux and Negroamaro Rose for me...

But after that, framing was all my contractor and I could talk about this past week. You would know why its such a big deal in just a little bit, when you see pictures of what framing can do to a space.

Framing gives a space a skeleton for what the end result would look like - for those who'd like to learn about Framing, here's a very useful link.

So now you know why I could not wait to be framed!

A family visit

As soon as my contractor informed that the space has been framed (for the most part) - I could not wait to take my family to witness this milestone in person.

And of course, we all had to take pictures of us standing in our very own bar!

We now have a bar!

We now have a bar!

The only time a 9-month old will be allowed inside the bar :)

The only time a 9-month old will be allowed inside the bar :)

What else is going on?

Currently there is a lot of discussion about finishes - as part of that, we plan to implement some 'niches' in the bar. As shown in the blue/white taped region below, there will be some niches in the walls of the bar - to serve as a means of decorating the bar and also to place a glass of vino if there's shortage of space (always a good problem to have at a bar!)


Next steps...

We are still awaiting the SF Planning to give their high esteemed green signal after the neighbor notification date expires on December 12th. My fingers and toes are crossed for this to happen seamlessly.

Other than that, there is equipment installation, furniture and lighting selection and so much more these upcoming weeks.

These days, anytime I meet a business owner or even enter a business that has been started from nothing, I have so much respect and awe for the person that has started the entity from scratch and actually turned it in to a success story - I can vouch that it is one uphill battle. Stay tuned for more updates shortly...until then drink some good wine and have fun! 






The sweet sound of breaking concrete!

The Story of finding my builder

I am so happy to inform that we have begun digging trenches and breaking concrete at 258 Divisadero - the construction has officially started to build out the new home for Indian Paradox!

Finding a general contractor who is genuine, honest and accountable is no joke! I can vouch for this now. The key was to find a builder who has references with great reviews ***after*** completing the job. 

After 2 months of sleepless nights, several cold calling and reaching out to near and dear in my network of SF bars/food contacts, I finally found my builder! Someone who gave me the impression of being hard-working with attention to detail, punctual and etc. Fingers crossed to complete all construction work, including inspection by early January 2016!

Witnessing a smiling contractor in a space about to be build out....truly priceless!

Witnessing a smiling contractor in a space about to be build out....truly priceless!

A sight for sore eyes - Intent discussion between my Builder (right) and  Architect  (left)

A sight for sore eyes - Intent discussion between my Builder (right) and Architect (left)

What else is going on?

Another MAJOR milestone that got me jumping up in joy was the news that was bestowed upon me by my liquor license broker on the day of Halloween - ABC has approved conditional license for Indian Paradox to sell beer/wine on the premises. If y'all do not already know about this, this is a big deal!! And I was dressed up like a hippie (Halloween costume!) and doing back flips as soon as I heard about this :).

The only thing remaining for ABC to do next, is a final inspection after build out is complete, so toes & fingers crossed for that too. 

**But, one this that is bummeris, I had also applied for off-premises sale of wine - with wine club etc. in mind for the Divisadero/Haight neighborhood, but that was not granted - oh-well, I'll take this for now!**


Last but not least...

Most importantly, I just heard from SF Planning that, they have completed all reviews of Indian Paradox files and have granted permits to put up a poster to notify the neighbors that, a wine bar serving Indian street food is coming up at 258 Divisadero - if all goes well and there are no concerns/complaints from neighbors, by December 12th 201 5, we may have crossed the most critical, obstacle - of obtaining planning permits!

Until then, I hope you enjoy your Turkey day with a nice refreshing Beaujolais Nouveau - at least that is what 'yours truly' will be sipping!

Cheers to good times and good wine!




Who is Tracy Lee and what I learned from her?

The story behind my brief hiatus

Its been a while since I wrote here (about 8 weeks to be precise) - but it is with good reason. I delivered a baby girl on Feb 19th, 2015 (named her Anika :)). Hence, this short break from blogging & popups for these past couple of months.

Now I am back in the grind. I have been pondering on what topic I must first write about, on my return... and one particular topic that has been brewing in my mind for quite sometime popped up right away.

It is  about a woman entrepreneur I admire and whose journey I have been following and deriving a lot of inspiration from.

And so, with the becoming a mom of a daughter myself, what better time to celebrate and write about strong, ambitious, note-worthy women?

Who is Tracy Lee?

For the past 2-3 years I have been closely following the journey of a an amazing, dynamic, 'go-getter' woman entrepreneur named Tracy Lee.

I first came to hear about Tracy when I saw a deal for a food  event organized by a firm - Dishcrawl. Being a big fan of trying new food spots, fresh, innovative menus and new cuisines, I was very impressed by Dishcrawl's concept. To describe in a nutshell, Dishcrawl organizes food crawls similar to pub crawls. Their main focus is to get people from a neighborhood/community to get together and try out new and fun food/drink spots in their neighborhood. And in the process,  people get to know each other and the businesses get to sell/market their brand. What a fun idea! Isn't this something we would all want and like to do - whether in our own neighborhood or during a vacation? 

Except that, Tracy Lee actually went ahead and did it for all of us!

So, I was very curious and intrigued to find out for myself, about the woman behind the name and fame of Dishcrawl and (her most recent venture) Wingman.

Without any more delays, here I present, the wonderful conversation I had with Tracy. It was a great interaction due to several reasons. First and foremost, Tracy L-O-V-E-S food, and if you have not noticed, I am quite passionate about food myself. Secondly, the woman has a fantastic taste for beverages too. D-uh! @proudoenophile, wine pairings - remember? :)  Jokes aside, our conversation was also about Tracy's family, personal background, her belief system, her ever growing and driven entrepreneurial spirit!

So here you go!

Tracy Lee, CEO Wingman, Dishcrawl

Tracy Lee, CEO Wingman, Dishcrawl

Interview with Tracy Lee - CEO of Wingman &  Dishcrawl

-A fun, intelligent conversation with Tracy on topics about her personal life, her parents and passion.

Q: I have read your blogs at ladyleet.com. There is so much inspiration and motivation that I obtain from so many topics on your blog, like - "Conquer The Voice That Screams Failure And Get To Success", Get to Success looking like an Idiot and so on... 

What do you attribute to your constant urge to pursue your dreams and your amazing drive to follow your heart?

Tracy:  Part of it is just personality. I just really like to do things that make an impact on the world. I am really passionate about the projects I take on, though I'm not sure where the passion comes from - I think its just something that's inside me. I work many many hours to achieve my dreams, which I'm fine with. Part of the reason why that is okay with me is because growing up, I watched my parents constantly work on the computer during late hours. I fell in love at a young age and thought we'd be together forever. After we broke up, I was so heartbroken that I had to dive in to something to get over the breakup. So I started 3 companies and now this is where I am.


Q. In your website, ladyleet.com there is a tag line that states:  "Finding puzzle pieces and putting them together. Maximizing serendipity". I have heard you mention serendipity in other places, interviews etc. too. What is your fascination with serendipity?

Tracy: I think what makes successful people successful is finding the different pieces around you and turning nothing in to something. Looking at opportunities in different ways. One example is, I am doing kick boxing right now. I am looking at kick boxing and thinking, do I want to pay $150 every month - no, not really (laughs). What can I do to help a business grow and help it grow my business instead of paying the $150? I do a lot of social media consulting through Wingman - so the difference between an entrepreneur and non-entrepreneurial person is, an entrepreneurial person is always thinking about something completely outside the realm of what's normal. So some people will just go about kick boxing, but I go and wonder how I can find a business opportunity. Its that type of mentality. If you take pieces from your life and find ways to maximize the connections between them - then hopefully you will be successful in some way.


Q. So, in some part do you attribute to the fact that the universe conspires for your success - if you work hard and are passionate about something?

Tracy:  If you approach life with a positive outlook or if you approach life thinking you are going to succeed, then you will. But if you approach life like 'Oh my God, I don't know if I can do this' or if you are unsure of yourself, then nothing is ever going to happen in your favor.


Q. First, you were at a job in Brocade that you quit for a great, thriving business model like Dishcrawl. Now you are CEO of Wingman - what do you say to yourself to keep pushing the envelop?

Tracy:  The key is to find out what you are passionate about. Everyone makes decisions. I made a decision that I want to go corporate, because I really wanted to make a difference. And I was very passionate about it. So I went in to Brocade and within 3 weeks when I found out that I could not make a difference, so I started 3 companies to see which would succeed. Then I focused on what I was most passionate about - and that was Dishcrawl. And I have been fortunate enough to be allowed the ability to do what I'm passionate about. Probably one of the biggest reasons people fail is because, they spend too much time trying to make the best decision. Whereas, if you just make it, you are going to either succeed or fail, and then you make the next decision. That's how you can progress through life faster and have a better chance of success.


Q. Scrappy startup, Dishcrawl or Wingman - did these ideas evolve over gradual progression or an overnight epiphany ?

Tracy: It was definitely a progression. I did scrappy startups, because I went to this event and wanted to throw an event similar to it. That sort of led me to be in the startup world. Then I was at a conference, which led to Dishcrawl, and then that took off. In building Dishcrawl, we saw a need in the market for corporations to do what we were doing. So that became Wingman. It's about taking what's working in one portion of your life and applying it to the rest of your life.


Q. What is Wingman? How is this going to impact Dishcrawl?

Tracy: Wingman is actually the parent company of Dishcrawl. With Dishcrawl we expanded very quickly and we were a consumer facing product. Through its success scaling in to multiple markets we realized that, there was also an opportunity where a lot of corporations wanted to be like Yelp and have tons of communities everywhere. So the infrastructure that we built with Dishcrawl, we started using that for other companies. In building Dishcrawl it was mostly sales & marketing - brand awareness in a local market. So we saw that there was a big need for corporations to do sales, marketing and build their brand in the local market. So we help companies do much larger scale events than Dishcrawl - to doing local focussed events. So with Wingman, corporations could want a Popup Fashion show or a beer tasting or just a huge holiday party. We focus on the experience. For example, if you want to go bowling, we see how we can elevate the experience for our clients.


Q. I have seen a lot of emphasis on your writing and interviews about empowering women and how you chose to face fear and meet success head on rather than second guess yourself. Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs on how to go about this every time they have doubts about themselves, or their capabilities?

Tracy:  You know, we have to know what our strengths are and how to use them. So if you are really pretty and you are talking to a bunch of men, that can benefit you. I mean you should not try to hide it. We have these pre conceived notions of how we are supposed to be - but if we are just who we are, and we own it, that will benefit us. It is difficult being a woman. Even as a female we have the bias - that is just how the society works. This one time, I was talking to a male venture capitalist and he passed me to another female and I thought that was his assistant. I would have never thought that if I was passed to another male. So we are kind of perpetuating it and have to be aware so we don't make the same mistakes again. I will never make that mistake again.

Anytime you see yourself questioning something, just do it. The answer should just be YES. Anytime you feel like there is a bias, either pretend like its not happening or confront it head on. Its worse to crawl away in to a shell. Sometimes we just need to figure out what the outcome is, one way or the other. 


8. Define success.  

Tracy:  Oh, I don't know. I think success is what makes you happy. I don't think it is a dollar amount. What is going to make you happy in life? What are your goals? Not the ones your parents tell you about or what the industry dictates. But what you want to do with your life and how you want to shape it. And as long as you try and achieve that and are on that path of happiness, then you will be successful. 


We have now come to the end of the first part of my interview. Next, I asked Tracy a bunch of rapid fire questions - that only required quick, spontaneous responses without having to think more than a few seconds.


Q: If there is one thing you can eat for the rest of your life, what would that be?

Tracy: I don't know, I am foodie you can't ask me that (laughs). Dumplings, definitely! 


Q: Absolute favorite food spot in the bay area?

Tracy: Lure & Till in Palo Alto.


Q: Favorite drink?

Tracy: Jeff Morgenthaler amaretto sour.


Q: Your role model?

Tracy: My mom.


Q: Your strength & Weakness?

Tracy: Strength: My determination; Weakness: I am not as analytical as I'd like to be.


Q: Dishcrawl is a great way for people to unwind. How do you unwind?

Tracy: I eat (laughs).


Q: The most difficult thing you had to do?

Tracy: There are so many. But, I really hate firing people.


Q: If you were told you were going to be abandoned in an island and can take just one thing with you what would that be?

Tracy: My boyfriend.


Q: If Dishcrawl never happened, what would you be doing?

Tracy: Would be in another business. 


Q: One word that describes you the best?

Tracy: Passionate


So what did I learn from Tracy?

My biggest takeaway from talking to Tracy is, there are a lot of us that are being 'armchair' entrepreneurs. We like to dream, some of us even want very badly to pursue it. But, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for "acting" upon it. It seemed like, Tracy is the epitome of this sentence I once read in a book that changed my life. The sentence goes: "Life rewards action". That is right, there are dreams, and then there is action. Dreams can stay dreams or worse, be forgotten - unless we choose to act upon them.

On that note, I wish to share a video that always gives me the motivation and direction on how I see my own life's purpose - "Stay hungry, stay foolish".

Cheers! :)


From Punjab to Yecla

The Story of Chole Bhature

It was a nice warm January (I know! We are quite spoiled here in and around San Francisco) afternoon when the thought occurred to me.

During one of my recent visits to the wine store, I had purchased a bottle of a Monastrell from the Yecla region in Spain.


While thinking about pairings for this beautiful grape that goes by the name of Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre or Mataro), I immediately decided that it had to be a lentil/legume centric dish that could match the earthy notes of this grape and also is hearty enough to withstand its tannins and alcohol levels.

Bingo! The perfect dish just came to me like a flash - the ever comforting, hearty street food of the Amritsar district in the north western Indian state of Punjab - the finger-licking delish Chole Bhature!

Chole is a comfort food made with chickpeas that accompanies a Bhature that is a deep fried bread (made from maida aka all purpose flour). There is nothing that I do NOT like about everything that I just typed :)

And so I got down right to business - first, soaked the chickpeas overnight. The trick is to knead the flour for the Bhature a couple of hours before its ready to be fried - for a more softer Bhature. And I found a recipe to freshly grind the dry roasted spices that makes this dish to absolutely shine.

The next day I woke up thinking (drooling) about making this dish and how its going to pair with the wine....

I was done making the Chole and frying the Bhature soon after the day had started. Next, I plated the dish with its trademark accompaniments - raw onions, slit green chillies and a slice of lemon - Dhaba style!


The wine pairing with Chole Bhature

If you have not noticed yet, I do have a HUGE affinity to Spanish, Portugal & Northern Italian reds - especially while pairing them with Indian food.

So when I saw this red, luscious wine from the eastern region of Yecla in Spain, I just had to buy it (even if I did not have a concrete plan about the pairing just then). 


Yecla is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) neighboring the Jumilla DO - another amazing Spanish wine producing region. Both of these parts enjoy plenty of sunshine that is directly proportional to the abundant red fruit flavors that dominate Monastrell wines. As a bonus, Monastrell as a grape does amazingly well in this part of Spain


Tasting notes

Just look at that wine, its bold red color made it hard to even see it a midst the dark granite in my kitchen counter.

So as soon as I opened the bottle, on the nose there were these unmistakable ripe red fruits (explains the color?!) - raspberries, strawberries, cassis, I even got some dried prunes at the end.

I poured a very little amount, swirled and sipped diligently. Hmmm, the red fruits undeniably still came through. Additionally, I got some vanilla bean as an after taste (No oak though!). 

There was a good amount of body, any Spanish red would be proud of - I bet that's because of all the tannins specific to this grape in this terroir of Spain.

Monastrell is an interesting grape - especially as a varietal. The reason being, mostly its used as a blending grape, the most popular kind is the GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) blend. In all the wines where Monastrell is used as a blending grape, the main aspect expected from it, is the fruit forward flavors that it can bring to the table.


The verdict

So, it was now time to test out my theory (intuition) about this pairing.

Given its blending utilities, I was most curious to see how  this Monastrell would perform as a varietal (100% Mourvèdre). And I must say, it did a spectacular job standing tall - next to all the strong spices (cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves etc.) from the Chole.


The weight (14% ABV) also embraced the deep fried Bhature dipped in this "smorgasbord of flavors" called the Chole. 

I will say though, that I may have gone a little, teeny-weeny bit overboard with the spice levels in the Chole (unintentionally). If it were a little more subtle, I believe this pairing would have been even better.

Nothing major to to fret though. All in all it, was a good experiment turned great!

At the risk of sounding a little arrogant - I am going to say that everything that I had in mind about this food and wine pairing turned out to be quite accurate (that did sound more than a little arrogant huh? ;) )

Now, here's how I'd like to say Cheers! in Punjabi after this finger licking good endeavor - Khuśa rahō! 

And until next time, Alavidā! Adiós!