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Taste

What I did this weekend:

1. Watched beets grow at Root Division.

2. Shared a mini Mexican feast with Kelly at our favorite Mission taqueria.

3. Enjoyed the plant life at Greenburger.

4. Caught up with a dear friend over veggie burgers.

5. Had a girl’s dinner at Bar Jules.

6. Enjoyed the afternoon sun with Sawyer and our new chair.

7. Whipped up a salad with the last of our farmer’s market produce.

8. Snacked on goat cheese and honey and finally met one of my very favorite bloggers.

Tomorrow, we head off to NY for the week! I’m in desperate need of a vacation, and seriously cannot wait to eat, drink and play in the city with some dear friends.

xo 

When I was little, Easter was always on the Sunday right before Spring Break. On Good Friday, we would have a half day. My mom would pick me and my sister up from school. Still in our uniforms (pinstriped Spring skirts and polos for formal dress days), we’d pop by a bakery and pick up a box of still-warm hot cross buns. We’d go home, pour ourselves big cups of milky Earl Grey (with two sugar cubes please), and listen to my Mom read the Easter story. Our feet would swing off the barstools at the counter, and we’d dunk the sticky buns into our tea — edible reminders of our faith.

Saturday was egg dying day. Using those dinky wire dippers, we’d dunk our eggs into purple, pink, blue and green, and watch our white crayon designs reveal themselves. No matter how careful we were, our fingertips always ended up stained with every layer, and the house reeked of vinegar.

Sunday meant morning church services (and for quite some time, matching dresses for me and my sister), family brunch, and Easter egg hunts. I never really believed in the Easter Bunny (I mean, did anyone?), but I still loved the thrill of the Easter hunt. I thought I was a complete expert, and would quietly search all the hidden nooks and crannies for the biggest and best eggs while everyone else ran themselves ragged.

Now, Easter is different. My sister and I have scrapped Good Friday traditions for post-work happy hours. Even my little brothers are too old for egg hunts (although my Mom still puts Easter baskets together for us each year).

But each Easter Sunday, we all put on our springtime best and go to church. We listen, we remember, and we feel. After the service, we come home to cook, drink wine and eat. Sitting in the sunshine, we’re grateful for each other and everything this holiday reminds us of. 

This year’s menu:

Honeybaked ham, scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, fava bean and pecorino salad, beets with goat cheese, grilled asparagus, and a lemony bundt cake to finish.

The last Sunday of every month, Supperclub gets together.

We’re a group of 10+ girls, with a common love of cooking and eating.

Each dinner has a theme (past ones have included Southern cuisine, and “Shit that’s hard to pronounce”), lots of wine, and a round of silly after-dessert questions.

This month, the theme was: Colors of the rainbow

Dishes included…

Two purple bruchetta style appetizers — beet/buratta and cabbage/onions/goat cheese.

Two orange salads — roasted squash/goat cheese/cranberries and orange/carrot/apple/ginger. 

Two colorful desserts — mint green grasshopper brownies and red velvet cake.

One big bowl of rainbow gnocchi — handmade for us by a professional chef!

(Not pictured — blueberry meatballs (amazing) and corn salad)

Needless to say, it was one tasty night. 

Next month, we choose a favorite recipe from our mom’s (or dad’s) repertoire. 

Is it April 29th yet?

Isn’t it the best when you have visitors? San Francisco is so much fun to show off. And she was at her finest this weekend. Clear, sunny days made everything seem 10 times more beautiful. All of the houses seemed brighter and more colorful than usual, and the sky was the most brilliant blue.

On Saturday, we decided to make the most of the sunshine and have an outdoor adventure. 5 of us packed bags of bread, cheese, grapes, wine and a bottle of whiskey (!) and cabbed out to the Sutro Baths.

It was so windy when we got there. Of course, none of us had considered this. It was a fierce and bitterly cold wind that almost pushed us backwards as we walked down the hill to the ruins. At first, we were all a little unsure if this trip had been worth it. It was freezing.

But as we all tiptoed across the old ruin’s walls to the water, we were suddenly right at the edge of the ocean. Salty mists of water spritzed our faces, and the ocean churned into pure white froth all around the rocky shore. We all looked at each other. “This is pretty great,” someone said.

We trekked along the cliffs and found a cave that led all the way through to the other side. We huddled against the wind and snuck sips of the whiskey, and then decided to find a place to picnic.

After wandering through the cypress trees, we found a sunny and grassy spot just off the footpath. We all sat, broke bread, and sipped from our various bottles. We talked about old friends, new jobs and future adventures for a long time.

After battling the freezing wind back to the street, we hopped on a bus back to Van Ness. At the spur of the moment, we decided to finish off the day with a warm plate of mashed potatoes and gravy (and a gigantic turkey leg for some) at the oh-so-famous Tommy’s Joynt.

It was a good day. A very San Francisco day.
I love having visitors.

A few weeks ago, we hosted our first ever Pie Party.

It was actually just our first party  in general (I know, after 2 years here!),  but the theme was pretty fantastic.

I don’t really like cake… I never have. And if I have the choice between fruit and chocolate, I’ll usually choose fruit. Which is why pies are my ideal dessert: sugary, tart fruit wrapped in a flaky crust. YUM. I came up with the idea of an entire party revolving around this amazing dessert during some particularly intense pre-holiday pie craving.

So basically, there were only two requirements for the party: bring a homemade pie, and bring a bottle of something to drink. 

Kelly and I guaranteed mood music, lovely company, and a prize to the pie that got the most votes at the end of the night.

I was so impressed with all of our friends. Everyone got crazy creative. 


I made an apple pie with a white cheddar rosemary crust, which was good, but needed a bit of work.

(My baking skills are less than ideal)


Kelly made this crazy bacon-covered concoction, filled with potatoes and cheese. It was gobbled down in about 2 minutes.

There was honestly a little of everything. Pear, coconut, apple, berry, cream, a quiche, and even Shepherd’s pie!

My friend Joelle was brilliant and made a mud pie — don’t you remember eating those at parties in elementary school? She even put in gummy worms, a fake flower, and served it in a flower pot. 


This was right before the big 49er game, so everyone was in the spirit. How amazing is that crust? My friend Ashley is brilliant. 


Yes, the pies were that good. 

Curious who won?

Kelly’s bacon and cheese stroke of genius won everyone over. It’s hard to go wrong with those ingredients! But since it would be weird to give himself the prize that he bought, we gave the bottle of Crown Royal to Ashley — her 49er cherry pie was a close second. 

 It was too much fun to see (and taste) everyone’s culinary abilities — I have some truly talented friends.   

xo

Christmas Feasting

(I’ve mentioned my love for listing/sharing menus before. Please bear with me if you don’t share this obsession.)

Christmas Eve: (Mom’s house, Los Gatos CA)

An incredible amount of Italian inspired appetizers: 3 types of bruschetta, salumi and cheeses, and the beautiful platter pictured above.

Fresh California Crab, caught live in Half Moon Bay

Fresh linguini and clams

Gorgonzola and spinach pasta

Citrus Salad

Homemade Tuscan Tomato Soup

Christmas Day: (Dad’s house, San Francisco CA)

The infamous cheese log: a deadly ball of goat cheese, topped with sundried tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Served with home made pita chips.

Perfectly cooked beef tenderloin.

Roasted vegetables: Carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and just about anything else you can think of.

Roasted brussels sprouts with lemon and bacon

Fingerling potatoes with herbs

It was a pretty epic two days of food. The main reason I love the holidays is about the food — not necessarily eating it (although that’s obviously a bonus), but preparing it. I love to cook. It’s soothing for me. The process can be chaotic, but there’s something really therapeutic about producing something delicious for people you love. And getting to cook with the people I love is even better.

At my elementary school, the music room had a gigantic persimmon tree growing next to it. It’s been there forever, so the music room was eventually called Persimmon over time.

Until about 4th grade, I had no idea that a persimmon was even a fruit. Since this was the only context I had heard the word in, I assumed it was either a musical term or some special type of building. It wasn’t until one winter that I noticed the plump orange fruit on the ground. As I nudged a few pieces around with the toe of my black mary-janes, I heard a big wet thwock, screamed, and turned around to see a boy in my grade chucking the sopping fruit at the back of my white polo.

That’s when I learned what a persimmon really was.

Naturally, I haven’t been a huge fan of them since. Not just because of that fateful afternoon, but mostly because the smell of persimmons has really stuck with me. They have kind of a musky, rich scent that I couldn’t get used to. Now, I feel like there’s something earthy and wonderful about them. But when I was 10, tromping past the growing pile of orange goo on the ground made my stomach flip.

Lately, little paper bags stuffed with persimmons have been appearing in our CSA box. Instead of burying them in the box underneath the clementines, I got a burst of courage yesterday and decided to take a few home with me. Inspired by a photo on bliss (which practically made me drool), I roasted bits of persimmon with vanilla, sugar, butter, and cardamom.

It’s hard to roast anything with a bit of fat and spice and have it turn out poorly, but these persimmons were especially delicious. This morning I spooned big heaps of the warm mess onto my oatmeal, and it was absolutely amazing.

I felt very grown up.

We’re still in the middle of San Francisco summer.

It’s slightly cooled down this week, but this weekend it was a perfect 80 degrees all day long. After a month or so of nothing but fog, this weather is much needed.

Here’s what I did this weekend:

1. Friday night dinner at Nojo in Hayes Valley. All of these small Japanese plates were bursting with fresh flavors, but this simple cucumber and nori salad was my absolute favorite. The chef simply broke up small cucumbers in a rough manner, and sprinkled the salad with torn nori and a rice wine vinaigrette. Even though I’m a mess with chopsticks, I managed to eat every last bite.

2. I had to go downtown to get my haircut Saturday morning (at the Cinta Aveda School. Best. Deal. Ever. Seriously, the girl did a great job and I honestly saved myself $50. Do it.), so I decided to take the long route back and walked home since it was so nice out.  The weather was surreal, and so was the view. On days like that, San Francisco looks like a gigantic postcard to me — perfectly framed and color corrected.

3. Amanda and I wandered back downtown later that afternoon to peruse H&M for cheap Halloween costume supplies. The flower carts down by Union Square were just exploding with fresh flowers! I couldn’t believe how bright and beautiful the sunflowers, hydrangeas, irises, and dahlias were. I stopped and smelled them until the cart owner started to give me dirty looks.

4. Sunday was just as warm and balmy. After a long run out to the Golden Gate and back, I met Kelly out in North Beach, where he was drinking beers with the boys on a friend’s rooftop. We shimmied down a tiny ladder, and hiked up the steep hill on Taylor to a little tapas bar on Mason. It was one of those perfect meals that makes you feel like you’re on vacation — I wore a sundress and sandals and we sat outside while eating garlicy mushrooms. We sipped white wine sangria (for me) and light Spanish beer (for him) while watching the overflowing Mason cable car wind its way down the hill. Moments like that make me feel like life couldn’t possibly be better.

Hope your weekend was just as heavenly.

xo

Keeping in line with my new goal to do one new thing each weekend, I forced Kelly to wake up early on Sunday morning (prior to an A’s game — another new experience!) to trek to the Mission and beat the long line at Tartine Bakery & Cafe.

It was starting to get ridiculous that I hadn’t been here yet. I had always been deterred by the long line. But after watching this video (and reading about it constantly online), I decided I had to push it to the top of my list.

Amazing. We sat outside in the sunshine and carefully peeled apart the flaky, buttery pastries. The Morning Bun was a heavenly sugar spun creation of cinnamon and orange flavors. The gougére was essentially a doughy bubble of cheese, black pepper, and rosemary. And the ham and cheese croissant? As Kelly said, “I’ve had a lot of ham and cheese croissants, and this is the best one I’ve ever had.” The pastry is incredible — so thin and light, but full of soft and buttery flavor.

If you haven’t gone yet, do yourself a favor and wait in the line. Trust me, it’s worth it.

{food, lately}

From the top left: Margherita pizza from Pizzeria Delfina, turkey pastrami on rye with coleslaw and a pickle from Miller’s Deli, summer cherries in the office, blackberry crisp by moi (a necessity after the blackberries we bought from Bi-Rite got smushed on the ride home), chicken noodle matzo ball soup from Miller’s, and a red pepper stuffed with cous cous/zucchini/chicken sausage and topped with feta (again, by yours truly)

I don’t know about you… but I never get tired of looking at photos of food. 

Yum!

xo