Wednesday, March 19, 2008

love at first bite

today is a day that i gave into temptation.

i made the decision to give in after i found out that my company’s san francisco office will be shut down and the majority of staff will be given severance packages. i started out in that office but i moved over to the company strategy department a few years ago. it is never easy to hear about people getting let go.

after news like that, i am all about cupcakes. and you know what? these are some pretty damn good cupcakes. they are from a shop called love at first bite.

yippeee for the cupcake bakery trend. yum yum. a perfect "cup" of cheer.

i purchased a variety (i wanted a lot of cheer) including “pure love” (chocolate coconut)

“pretty in pink” (strawberry)

“red hot love” (red velvet)

and “mudpie” (chocolate with cookie crumbs).

i figured that JS would be willing to share them with me. i didn’t even have to twist his arm.

it is difficult not to smile when you see one, or better yet, more than one. they envoke strong feelings of anticipation as well as nostalgic memories. this is one food trend from new york that i absolutely adore.

the next nyc food trend that i hope to see in the gourmet ghetto is the premium hot chocolate café.

Monday, March 17, 2008

noodle me quickly

between work, paris prep, and having dinner with JB, today has been go-go-go. is it just me, or do things seem a bit stressful right before going on vacation?

that brings me to the subject of lunch, specifically, lunch today.

when i am in go-go-go mode, it gets supremely tempting to eat very badly. wacky ideas like having a lunch of coffee ice cream with a chaser of premiere cru dark chocolate sound perfect. yet, i slapped myself mentally and thought, “there has got to be something i can make in a few minutes that isn’t toast.”

off to the kitchen i went and perused the insides of my fridge. thank goodness i did. in less than 15 minutes, i ended up making a wonderful hearty gyoza noodle soup.

i boiled some chicken broth (i.e., water with some “better than boullion”) and added cayenne,
nuoc mam,

smashed garlic...

green onions...

fresh egg noodles, broccoli shoots (from thursday's farmer's market), locally grown shiitake mushrooms (from saturday's farmer's market)

and a few frozen gyoza ( from trader joe’s).

then, voila, c’est fini.

it was really good. it was the kind of good that i’d actually make it when i am not in a hurry. i adore it when a haphazard recipe works out! don't you?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

adventures of a phoneix, a frog, and a riverdog with a blue bottle

ahhh dear friends i am a bit tired. just completed my self-eval and sent it off to my boss (who i adore btw…i know just how fortunate i am as i have had some doozies….) i also have washed, mopped, laundered every linen and surface in my place. why bother because JS doesn’t arrive until tuesday? it is because JB will be having dinner at chez moi tomorrow evening and i don’t want to cut that evening short because i have been such a slacker.

as i have gotten so much done today, i naturally wanted to reward myself and just think about food for a while.

as i promised yesterday, i've uploaded some pictures from the saturday berkeley farmer’s market.

here is a crepe stall that provides organic buckwheat batter on request....that is soooo berkeley.

if you live in the sf bay area, are a foodie, and love coffee...then your coffee of choice is likely blue bottle. if you don't believe me, i think you should check out that little sign that indicates a few of the restaurants that serve their coffee (i.e., chez panisse). i doubt ms. waters would settle for mediocre coffee. just a thought.

these guys have been around for at least a decade...i saw them selling their farm fresh eggs over 10 years ago.

hey, i know it isn't a food stall.... but what is a farmer's market without some flowers?

riverdog farm also has a saturday stall and is much 3 times larger than the thursday stall.

i know that there is a big roll of plastic in the way...just wanted folks to get a sense of how crowded the riverdog stall is.

gratuitous foodie porn shot of parsnips and green garlic... wasn't able to get a lot of these kinds of shots in because it was too crowded.

frog hollow farm also has a larger stall at the saturday market....and no, dear friends, i have no idea who the poser in red is.

phoenix pastificio makes wonderful flavorful pastas. mp introduced me to their pastas years ago. i used to go to them when they had a store front. yet now they sell their wares primarily at farmer's markets.

well, that's a lot of pictures for this post!

i also wanted to give everyone a sense of the variety of people that attend this farmer's market. it is QUITE a bit different than..say...the folks that attend the SF Ferry Building Farmer's Market or the Heart of the City Farmer's Market at SF Civic Center. yet, i'll tromp over to those markets another time and post lots 'n lots of pictures. then you'll be able to compare for yourself. tee hee.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

there are so many things i should be doing right now

i should be

1) cleaning my place in preparation for the arrival of JS

2) working on my self-eval as it is due monday morning, central time

3) preparing for my trip to paris

4) working on the research for the company’s annual strategic planning process/preso

instead i

1) went to the saturday berkeley farmer’s market

2) grabbed a hotlink at top dog

3) grabbed a frozen yogurt at yogurt harmony

i have quite a few pics from the farmer’s market today, but i’ll only provide this one right now. i’ll upload more later with additional commentary.

my only comment on this picture is…. i have yet to see dreads on a white person that actually looks good.


i was semi-good this afternoon as i resisted some temptation and did not go into a couple of my fave berkeley shops.....the comic bookstore (i.e., Comic Relief)….where i have been known to severely damage my paycheck…i’m so glad that they moved to this bigger location....

and the the sci-fi fantasy bookstore

but, after gallivanting about the farmer’s market, i was feeling very peckish….hence my visit to top dog.

i have been going here for years. there are outposts throughout the east bay and i seem to order the hotlink each time i visit.

i loaded up the hotlink with kraut, spicy russian mustard, stone ground mustard, relish, onion, and jalapeños.

inevitably, i have to be somewhat careful when i eat it because i have to remember to breath through my mouth…else the fumes from the russian mustard burns my nostrils….much like wasabi. yet, no risk….no reward and it is quite the reward.

then looking to further avoid my pending responsibilities, i decide to wander over to yogurt harmony.

i’ve been going here about twice a week since it opened.

it is unlike any frozen yogurt i have had before…it actually tastes like yogurt and not milky ice. i prefer the plain tart yogurt with no toppings.

the toppings usually consist of chocolate chips, cereals, mochi, carob chips, and fruit. the flavored yogurts differ each day. the flavored yogurts are pomegranate, peach, blueberry, pineapple, and green tea. there may be more flavors...but these are the ones i've seen. i heard that a bunch of indie frozen yogurt places have opened up in SF. maybe i’ll pay them a visit sometime.

well, playtime over and must get back to work!

cozy creamy comfort

admittedly i usually do not eat breakfast in the morning.

it really isn't a part of my routine. sometimes i go in spurts and i'll be really good. i'll have breakfast for, like, a week. interestingly enough, the spurts seem to coincide with DC saying "you know, you should really eat breakfast". DC should know....the breakfast program was one of DC's projects while working at the food and nutrition service.

the funny thing is, i love typical american "breakfast" foods. crispy bacon....yum yum....pancakes, belgian waffles, eggs benedict, any kind of salty sausage whether it be a patty, breakfast links, italian,...all of it is supremely yummy. i also love the UK breakfast foods that include the fried eggs, beans, grilled tomatoes and blood sausage.....yet, i would just prefer to have that kind of food for lunch, dinner, or even better... at 2am.

well, as for this morning.... it is well after 2am and i felt like making a nice cozy breakfast. i decided to make my self some sweetly spiced farina or "cream of wheat".

today, i made the farina with milk, butter (i'm a bit heavy handed with the butter...i like to add it during cooking and after i pour it in the bowl), agave, murcott tangerine zest and cinnamon.

truly cozy creamy comfort in a bowl.

Friday, March 14, 2008

reminiscing about paris

the next few days are going to be quite chaotic. i’m trying to finish up quite a bit of work stuff before JS arrives from atlanta. then a couple of days after JS arrives, i will be off to paris! i can hardly believe that on thursday, i’ll be on my way.

i’ve been thinking a lot about the last time i was in paris and decided to dig up a few photos that i wanted to share. these are just some shots from a neighborhood supermarche in the 7th.

this is a lot of mousse.....

this is a lot of inexpensive cheese.....

the full effect.....

this is quite the selection of ham...i don't see this in my neighborhood grocery store, do you?

some close up shots of the ham...

i hope to have tons of new paris pictures to show you!

bloody curious

hmmmm. up until today, i have only tasted blood oranges in restaurants. if a restaurant doesn’t have a custardy creamy kind of dessert, then sometimes my eye wanders to what else the pastry chef has provided…and sometimes there will be a blood orange sorbet on the menu. other than that, i didn’t really give them a second thought.

yet, a while ago, i was introduced to RK, a warm vivacious friend of VF’s who appeared to be completely obsessed with them. RK declared that he spent an insane amount of money on buying freshly squeezed blood orange juice. i saw an inkling of this obsession first-hand when we were at a napa restaurant and he asked our kind waitress for a slice of blood orange for his glass of sparkling water. she came back with multiple slices and RK was very delighted. the delight was completely infectious.

when i came across them in a local market, i remembered RK and thought…”why not try them?” and thus my curiosity led me to buy a few.

it is difficult in a restaurant setting to see how beautiful blood oranges are. the range of colors on the skins only hint at the vermilion insides. i sliced into a couple of them and noticed that the insides also range in color…from brick red to of course…blood red.

in a homage to RK, i put a slice into a glass of sparkling water and found myself enchanted. i kept swirling the glass to watch the slice flow through the water.

then, i thought to myself “now what?”

after rooting around in my fridge, i saw that i had a peeled roasted beet (this winter, i find that i am roasting at least 1 beet a week to have in the fridge).

this inspired me to make a roasted beet salad with a spicy blood orange vinaigrette.

the blood orange vinaigrette included blood orange zest, blood orange juice, agave, a pinch of salt, extra virgin kalamata olive oil, and freshly ground cayenne.

it was a fantastic lunch course.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

only in berkeley....

today was a nice day to visit the berkeley organic farmer's market. the thursday market is tiny in comparison to the saturday market. yet, i find myself visiting the thursday market more often. it provides me with a nice break from work and the opportunity to grab some great seasonal produce.

the thursday market starts at three and i typically like to get there right after it opens. it can get get quite crowded. i arrived a bit later than usual, at about 3:25pm…as you can see from the pictures, the crowd was just starting to build.

two stalls that i consistently visit are riverdog farm and frog hollow farm.

here is a shot of riverdog's stall:

the lines can get a bit long at riverdog. yet, i kept myself happily busy with taking some foodie shots of riverdog’s produce.

at the time, little did i know that my happiness would be intruded upon. a woman with political literature saw the line and must have thought “eureka, a trapped audience!”…because who is really going to walk away without paying for their produce? that would be literally taking money away from the farmers! not to mention the time you have invested choosing just the right bunch of purple kale, beets, fennel, artichokes, and early spring onions. she started near the front of the line and proceeded to hand each person her flyer and a sound bite or two. i could hardly believe that the 3 people in front of me took this! i mean really, they must not be from berkeley. when you live in berkeley for a while.... you figure out how to deal with the hundreds of acolytes that seek new converts to their causes or religions… call it a survival tactic. also, only in berkeley will someone try their political pitch on people standing in line at the tiny farmer’s market.

now, dear hearts, those who know me so well, how do you think i responded when she got to me?

i was, of course, polite.

i did say “no, thank you”. quite firmly of course. well, maybe it came out more like a command... and well ... maybe i didn’t wait for her to begin her sound bite. i just waited for her to turn toward me and open her mouth…and that is when i said my firm “no, thank you”. i could see the range of emotions and thoughts that ran across her face…the surprise, the processing moment….her thinking “do i start a political argument right here?” at this point, i was quite annoyed, waiting, and very ready with a few scathing remarks if she took it further. she decided to move on and i paid for my vegetables.

by this point, i was quite ready to move on to frog hollow farm for my medicinal pastry.

unfortunately, the frog hollow berkeley stall doesn’t stock my favorite frog hollow savory pastries (i.e, carnitas turnovers, mushroom leek turnovers, and butternut squash turnovers… opposed to carnitas, mushroom, leek, and butternut squash turnovers…which sounds like a yucky mixture….just wanted to add that in case you wondered why i repeated the word “turnovers” three times). it seems that frog hollow only stocks them in their permanent stall at the sf ferry building market. yet, they do stock some tantalizing tarts and fruit pastries at the berkeley location. after pursuing the options, i decided upon the crostata and hurried home to enjoy my snack.

not only was the crostata yummy to look at, it was yummy to eat. it was filled with pears, raisins, and surprisingly, orange rind. the fruit filling wasn’t overly sweet and it complemented the light dough very nicely.