I am back from a great holiday and now I must settle back in to a routine and prepare for a new (and my favorite) season. I’m thinking of all the vegetables that will be appearing at the farmer’s market, and of all the things I want to eat. I’m also thinking that perhaps I would like a few new wardrobe staples. It sounds like there are many lists to be made; god I love writing lists.
I hope you have a sexy weekend ahead of you, perhaps preparing for the changing season. Here are a few of my favorite things from my holiday in The Bay. Kiss!
The last summer mani. The time has come for greys and burgundies, but I couldn’t resist one last summer fling.
Beautifully wrapped candles at the Diptyque boutique. How I wish I could wrap packages like this.
The dim sum cart at State Bird Provisions. My love of small plates and variety was most certainly satisfied. We had such a great meal.
Heading back to Seattle after eating, shopping, and napping on my holiday in The Bay. I’d forgotten how much I miss these 49-Mile Scenic Drive road signs, so when I saw them in these artistic variations at Zinc Details on Fillmore it made me smile. I love them as an entire installation.
“49 Reasons Why I Love You” By Annie Galvin
It’s been great to be back in San Francisco. Some strange feelings of nostalgia and déjà vu here and there, but still I am having a lovely time. And eating so well too!
Yesterday I had the most incredible cheese and I had to jott down the name and share it with you before I forgot it forever. This is Abbaye de Belloc, an unpasteurized sheep milk cheese made for centuries by Benedictine Monks using milk from local farms. The cheese guy that helped us yesterday said it is the world’s longest continually made cheese.
It’s a semi-firm cheese with a creamy texture that tastes of rich grass and burnt caramel. At first it tastes quite mild, but as the cheese warms on the tongue, and as it bites between your teeth it becomes increasingly flavorful and fatty. I should probably mention the 60% milk fat content. It is gorgeous!
I’ll have to see who has it when I get back from SF, but if you’re in this area check out Gourmet and More in Hayes Valley. It’s a gourmet’s food mecca, and the sweetest little store, but all I really need to say is: cheese walk-in.
Or you could buy it online here, $15 for 1/2 pound.
Candlestick Park Antique Faire
I took my first trip to the Candlestick Park Antiques and Collectibles Faire this past Sunday and had a blast. After a week of constant rain it let up just in time for the monthly gathering of antique dealers from all around the Bay Area. It’s not as big as the Alameda market, but it’s bigger than the Alemany one so it’s just the right size for me. So many great pieces I wish I had room for (the vanity and the gorgeous red American Tourister luggage!), and some that were just plain funny (vintage Playtex brassieres, anyone?).
I’ve always been fascinated by retro pop culture and lifestyle, but I’d never gotten into antique hunting until recently when shopping for home decor pieces. If you want more than a catalog design, antiques are a great way to add some fun and meaningful pieces that can be inexpensive and completely unique.
I ended up nabbing a first aid kit from 1941, some vintage bottles and spice tins, a vintage wood box for storage, and some old Look magazines from 1952, all for about $60. The first aid kit needs a tiny bit of cleaning in order to be repurposed. The cool thing is that the original band-aids and swabs are still in the kit, wrapped! I’m thinking I can find something cool for these outside of the kit.
I also loved these sheet metal cut-out letters and how they were strewn across the ground. I wasn’t searching for wall art, so I decided not to impulsively by a giant N. I have still been dreaming about the third bottle from the left below though. It was an antique absinthe bottle in perfect condition. I had to pass since it was on the pricier side at $70, but I was imagining it in my cluster of bottles with some fresh flower sprigs.
Sometimes I’m embarrassed at my blogging habits. There I was, bragging about scoring two seats to dinner at Tartine Afterhours, and here I am, two weeks later just posting the review. It was a lovely dinner, and most certainly post-worthy the very next day, but I must admit that I am slightly embarrassed at the quality of the images. I need a new camera, but even then I don’t want to be that annoying person that uses a flash and offends everyone else trying to enjoy their dinner. In this family-style setting especially, a big flashy camera would not have been the most appropriate addition to the table.
So in a pinch I used the flashlight app on my phone as lighting and my Lova took the pics. We must have looked ridiculous, but at least I didn’t attempt to employ this tactic to take pictures of the community appetizers and mains. Bottom line: these pictures don’t do the food or the dinner justice, but because Tartine bread, and beautifully fresh vegetables were involved I must share with you all.
We arrived a bit early and sat out front on the bench, and to be completely honest, we shared a cup of Bi-Rite soft serve while we waited. (I didn’t have lunch, so there.) Once the space was ready we got our table assignment and happily I think we got the best seat in the house: a smaller table in the small nook by the coffee bar, away from the commotion of the main thoroughfare of the small dining room. Cozy candle light and small bites were waiting for us.
Gazpacho and tomato granita with bread croutons
The first course was a perfectly seasoned tomato gazpacho. So many different textures, temperatures, and flavors this dish was a delight. The tomato granita was gorgeous, and with the addition of the fresh crunch from the cucumber and shallot, and the hearty croutons, it was a wonderful start.
Family style – halibut with romesco, roasted vegetables with arugula
I’ve always loved romesco, actually I’m nearly obsessed with it but have been disappointed by half-assed versions so I’ve taken to making my own. This version, however, was not a disappointment and was a great accompaniment to the perfectly cooked halibut. And the vegetables. Oh, how I loved the vegetables. To be honest there was a pretty name for the dish, but I can’t for the life of me locate the menu I brought home. I believe is was a spanish name (eek!), but essentially eggplant, squash, zucchini, and onion were roasted until they were almost creamy and tossed with a light vinaigrette and topped with a peppery arugula and served chilled. I’ve been dreaming of recreating this ever since that night. Once I receive my copy of the Tartine Bread cookbook I’ll check to see if it’s there so I can try it out.
Affogato with toasted coconut ice cream, caramel sauce, and candied bread
When I saw affogato as the dessert I was so excited (even after having a Bi-Rite snack just before). Ever since the affogato at Blue Bottle I’ve been hooked. This version had a nice twist with the toasted coconut ice cream and caramel sauce. The ice cream wasn’t quite set, so it was closer to its custard form, but I know how hard it is to make from scratch so I’m not saying a word, and it was still really good. The little bits of candied bread were a nice touch too, a little tough on the teeth, but still very tasty.
Once again, another wonderful culinary experience with my Lover. I’d love to go to the next one but figure I should give others the chance to enjoy a lovely night with new friends and good food at Tartine Afterhours.
Porkloin wrapped around pork belly with a crispy cracklin’ skin. I don’t really need to say any more, but you know I will.
Roli Roti has quite the following here, and if you’ve ever been to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market on a Saturday you know what I mean. The queue for these guys is really long, I mean, unbelievably long and it’s that way week after week. Really anything that has pork belly on it will be good, so I get why people are willing to wait. I, however, am not patient, especially when it comes to food, so I haven’t bothered to wait in the line that probably averages at least 30 people deep.
A few weeks ago, to my utter delight, I happened to come across a line that had only a handful of people. A rare occurrence for sure, so I took advantage and hopped right in and began drooling right then and there. Just watching the rotisserie spit spinning is positively hypnotizing!
It was a very nice sandwich, and although I know this is not going to be a popular opinion, I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. To be fair I think the hype-machine has once again gotten in the way; nowadays it’s hard for anyone and anything to live up to the the fanatic gushes from hoards of Yelpers and bloggers like me (I am not a Yelper, btw). Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely lunch and the ingredients were all great (sustainably raised pork and organic produce), but the cracklin’ crust was too hard – like, potential for a chipped tooth kind of hard, and the caramelized onions weren’t very flavorful, but oh how wonderful they looked being slathered onto the roll! And finally, I was left craving an acid (you know me) like a peach chutney or a light vinaigrette for the greens. If all of those things were there it would have been epic for me, and wait-in-line worthy. But as it was, I would say it was nice and satisfying. I don’t want to deter any potential visitors from the queue, especially if you’ve heard cheers from your friends, so I guess you could consider my opinion as a gut-check to all those raves you’ve heard or read.
Late summer succotash
I am both regretful and embarrassed to admit that I’ve been absent from the farmer’s market for a few weeks. I can’t believe it, how could I let that happen? I was successful in missing the best of what summer has to offer in the form of corn, berries, and peas. I mean, I managed to pick up some stuff here and there from Whole Foods, but they weren’t anything special.
If there is an excuse to be had it’s that we haven’t had a summer yet, so I think I was lost somewhere in the fog that looms over the house every day. San Francisco is known for late summers, and by that I mean that summer doesn’t start until September and usually lasts through October. At least that’s what I’ve experienced so far and heard many times over. It seems to be the case so far because last weekend we had a beautiful summer weekend, and somehow I was suddenly inspired to run to the market and stock up on anything summery I could find.
I did a great job in making up for lost time and managed to find lots of beautiful beans, carrots, squashes, tomatoes (dry farmed!) and peaches. I was, however, devastated to find that corn was nowhere to be found. You see, I had been drooling over the thought of Smitten Kitchen’s succotash for weeks, but wasn’t able to find organic corn at Whole Foods, and seeing as how I’m slowly making my way through Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I’ve still got scenes from Food Inc. burned into my memory, I wasn’t about to settle for conventional corn. Luckily, in a last minute stop for a bottle of kombucha on my way home I serendipitously found a few remaining ears of organic corn! Definitely not the peak of the crop, but still in great condition, I was happy enough with their outward appearance to snag four ears for the succotash. This was indeed a good day.
Words cannot describe the amazing punch of flavors in this dish, and for me the mixture of the rich bacon and vinegar really bring out the sweet crunch of the corn. I really just can’t get over the fact that I missed making this at least a few more times before the corn disappeared for the year.
I’ve mentioned Smitten Kitchen before, but I must say again that Deb is my go-to for menu planning and inspiration, and please believe that if you’re able to sneak in this dish before autumn fully arrives, you will see why I rely on her so often. A beautiful food blog with wonderful stories and recipes. She adapted this recipe from Gourmet, and I’ve adapated it to suit what I’d brought home from the market.
(Late) Summer Succotash with Bacon and Garlic Croutons
Serves 6 as a side dish
– 1/4 pound bacon (about 4 slices), sliced into lardons
– 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 small shallots, finely chopped
– 1 large garlic clove, dinely minced
– 3/4 pound dry farmed tomatoes, diced
– 1/4 cup carrots, diced
– 1/4 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch strips
– Kernels from 4 ears corn
– 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
– 1/4 cup pea shoots (original recipe calls for basil and arugula, but I had pea shoots on hand)
– salt and pepper to taste
Slice the bacon into lardon strips and cook over medium heat in a large pan. Once the bacon is crisp, remove and drain on a paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pan and add the olive oil. Add the shallot to the oil and bacon fat and cook over medium heat until the shallots are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute more (I use my microplane and grate directly into the pan). Add the corn, tomatoes, carrots, and green beans to the pan and stir to coat with the shallots and oil. Lightly sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring, until the colors of the vegetables brighten and before the tomatoes lose too much of their shape. Transfer the succotash to a serving dish and let cool slightly. Toss in the bacon, pea shoots, and croutons.
Since I already had the oven going I did these on a sheet pan on the top rack, but a grill pan work just as well and will give you pretty grill marks.
– 1 loaf rustic bread
– 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
Cut 1-inch cubes from the bread, about three slices will yield enough. Toss lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven and be sure to keep watch. Usually takes me about 10 minutes in my oven set at 400-degrees, with a light toss mid-way through. Let cool slightly and add to succotash.