Monday, September 30, 2013

Clever Combinations and Even Better Climbing

Making it over to the Palace of Fine Arts by 7pm to catch the start of Reel Rock 2013's epic climbing footage didn't leave much time for food preparation, so I planned ahead. Farro has been a trusty staple in my diet lately--I've been eating the nutty grain every morning for breakfast with tangy Russian yogurt, honey, cinnamon, sliced almonds, and peanut butter, finding the rich flavors of the dish deeply satisfying. Ensuring that farro has desirable chewiness is no small feat--the cooking process takes at least half an hour, so I always make a quantity sufficient for the week. It served me well on this occasion--Tuesday night, I sliced a basket of my dad's cherry tomatoes--bites of sunlight--and added them to a hefty portion of farro, mixing in olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. The sweet tomato juices combined gracefully with the tangy dark vinegar, and the farro absorbed the fresh flavors throughout the night.
When we arrived home on Wednesday evening, all that needed to be done was egg-frying--I love getting the pan really hot so that the bottom egg white surface cooks quickly, leaving the top surface pearly and the yolk mound deliciously runny. We topped the farro and tomato mixture with the fried eggs, tangy yogurt--an unintentionally healthful rendition of sour cream, I suppose--spicy green chile salsa, classic Tapatio hot sauce, and freshly ground black pepper. Upon first contact, the egg yolk ruptured, melding the other ingredients together in a satisfying savory union. This creative combination and the climbing ahead ensured that we were excitedly out the door in 15 minutes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Down and Dirty

Well, there really isn't anything "down and dirty" about the latter part of this post. Come to think of it, even the beginning--our Friday night meal--was a simple Hilda rendition that satisfied us and provided fuel for an impressive urban hike. Somehow, we managed to walk somewhat spontaneously to the Haight and back, energized--7 miles worth!--from the following egg and tomato dish. 
Whole garlic cloves are smashed, not minced, then sauteed in olive oil over moderately high heat. Just as the garlic begins to brown, luscious wedges of farm fresh tomatoes are added to the simmering pot--rather than burning, the garlic retains is golden color and softens further as the tomatoes begin to release their juices over the high heat. Meanwhile, the eggs are "wetly" scrambled, and after the tomatoes have broken down--a lid facilitates this process--so that they are delicately chunky and juicy, the eggs are added and the ingredients meld together in a union of farm fresh-ness. Served over a quinoa and cabbage medley and topped with freshly cracked pepper, this delicious dish was ready in about 15 minutes and we were off to Toronado...

Bacon and biking go well together, especially when the bacon comes from my dad's pigs, freshly smoked and succulent, and is juxtaposed with light garden food--heirloom tomatoes, beets, green beans, and avocado slices. Juxtaposition isn't quite the right word, though--I see this meal more as a Venn diagram, simple, fresh ingredients and Tiger Prawn Ranch-raised serving as the large union, the non-overlap characterized only by the difference between meat and vegetable. Every bite was extravagantly earthy, the smoky umami bacon combined with rich roots and tomato sunlight. A Petaluma ride topped with parents and this capped an exceptionally robust weekend. 
Hilda's galettes are below. They've been documented and elaborated upon many times, but each one is a masterpiece that deserves recognition. 
Savory galette 
Tis the apple season!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Arizmendi Bakery Cooperative

Sweet and savory pastry delight
I first learned about Arizmendi Bakery through my avid following of @SFoodie on Twitter (obviously, if I was actually tech-savvy I would provide a mouthwatering link). The blog featured three unique croissant places in the city (I still haven't made it to the third) and heralded Arizmendi for its flaky and "light" plain, chocolate, and almond-filled croissants. Our first weekend here, Andrew and I became well-versed in our ABCs with the bike-through-the-park-to-A-B-C; we made the bike Trek (to be extra clever--I love my Trek Lexa with all my heart) from the Inner Richmond to the Inner Sunset and were greeted by a sweet, yeasty aroma of buttery delicious-ness, a long line, and a 10% bike helmet discount. As we wedged ourselves into the crowded parklet, I couldn't take my eyes off of the small yet solid chocolate croissant in my hand, and Andrew felt a similar bond with the decadent slab of daily focaccia. The sourdough and dark, dark chocolate satisfyingly balanced the inherent sweetness of the pastry, which was light (buttery) and melted in my mouth. The focaccia was similarly phenomenal, the tomato and pepper toppings fused beautifully with the crispy cheese and paradoxically chewy and crisp bread base. Additional hunger and/or curiosity convinced us to get an almond croissant once the blissful experience ended--sadly, I accidentally grabbed a plain, yet it did not disappoint.
I won't say much about our following day trip back, except that the focaccia and cinnamon roll left Andrew tempted enough to tear somewhat rabidly at the loaf of bread we purchased for the week ahead...
Today, we went for a full sampling--cheese roll, pumpkin muffin, and strawberry-peach-plum daily scone. No croissants on Sunday, but we couldn't have asked for anything more. The moist pumpkin muffin made me reminiscent of fall in New England, of my Tunnel City tea bread obsessions. The scone was deliciously dense and pocked with sweet, juicy fruit, and the roll had rich cheese mingled enthusiastically with the sourdough spiral. The sun coming through the clouds as we reveled in these treats mirrored my feeling of elation at our preferred weekend eating activities.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Pork Pasta

It's a shame that I didn't document tonight's dinner beyond a fleeting snapshot in my mind's eye--before I knew it, Andrew and I had far too effortlessly polished off a pound of fusilli that my partner-in-crime deemed "the best one yet." We say that every night. 
Our post-rock climbing dinner was a unique conglomeration of the fridge's aging contents and fresh vegetables from my dad's garden, delivered by my favorite Sebastopol courier service just last night. (Dinner at Ragazza on Page and Divisadero. The tender arancini, ricotta cavatelli, delicious thin crust pies--one onion crema with preserved lemon and arugula and the other pork belly with Hungarian chiles--and stimulating company made the hour long wait well-worth it. The closing nutella pizza with mascarpone sealed the deal.)
Back to tonight... Carnitas delicately fried to release the spiced fat, minced garlic absorbing the rich flavor. Next came a forgotten lunch container of coleslaw, a simple mix of cabbage, peppers, carrot, and apple, dressed--un-creamily--with a meyer lemon and grainy mustard mix. Gradual additions of sweet cherry tomatoes and sliced full-sizers from the garden before the pasta's entry, starchy pasta water and two farm eggs fusing the ingredients with the accepting corkscrews. Fresh pepper and parmesan applied liberally and frequently to the bowl's ever-changing top layer made it wholly apparent that the dish was making a steady disappearance. Truly food for the forearms. 
Ground pork meat sauce
This sauce has dutifully served us all week. I set out with that very intention on Monday evening, chopping three large peppers, and an onion as a mountainous vegetable base for the lasting sauce. I next added my dad's ground pork, and the gently frying meat emanated tantalizing umami fumes. I added stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce, which proved to be an inadvertently key decision, the sauce acting as the binding agent and the stewed tomato bits providing texture. After an extensive simmer period, we added chopped parsley before combining a couple of ladle-fulls with the piping hot spaghetti. Again, climbing left us ravenous, but there was no way that we were getting to the bottom of this one. In fact, I'm still looking forward to the last of it tomorrow for lunch--over farro.