Saturday, July 11, 2009
The beauty of the high quality of the food in the Bay Area might just be its effortlessness. I might just walk into all the right places, but it seems that everything just seems so fresh, so creative, so delicious, from the corner bakeries to the smallest cafes. Not to mention the herbs, fruit, and vegetables that people have growing practically wild, in their yards and gardens. I think that the meals that I had on my trip best exemplify what I mean, with no further description:
Breakfast: Coffee from Peets (for a chain, even in Portland, I must admit, they make impeccable espresso drinks), and pastries from La Farine in Albany. Back on the gluten train, I was completely overwhelmed by the choices here - sweet or savory? Pastry or roll? Classic or creative? My uncle got the "Swiss Twinkie," a croissant stuffed with ground almond paste (really good, and not too sweet unlike most almond filling), while I got a tasty ham and cheese puff pastry wedge and split a buttery, cinnamon-y morning bun with my mom.
Lunch: A leisurely 2 hour lunch overlooking San Francisco's marina at Greens. This meal deserves its own post, which it will get. My mom, uncle and I shared numerous dishes (all vegetarian), including their vegetable tacos. Let's just say that my uncle, who has lived in California his whole life, proclaimed "these are the best tacos I've ever had, meat or no."
Dinner: Still savoring our lunch at Greens, in the late afternoon we thought that the best idea would be to create a meal from the vegetable garden in my uncle's backyard. So, we stopped at the Berkeley Bowl (a wonderful, beautiful market with an incredible produce department) to pick up some lamb chops, then on to the house to pull up some vegetables. From what we foraged and bought, we all cooked a lovely summer dinner of the lamb chops, fresh tzaziki, roasted beets/potatoes/carrots from the garden, and some sauteed beet tops. And, of course, great bread, this time it was a firm Odessa Rye.
Breakfast: Ripe blueberries, boysenberries (so juicy and fragrant!), and sheep's milk yogurt. This was a first try on the yogurt - with it's earthy taste, I think the sheeps's milk works better with savory, such as in a creamy dressing or sauce, not sweet.
Lunch: At the Ferry Building. I've probably written here numerous times that this is one of my favorite places in the world, and on this sunny day, I was so happy that we had chosen it for lunch outside. I resisted one of my favorites, Delica rf-1 Japanese deli, and instead tried Mijita, the Mexican restaurant that I'd had my eye on the past few times I visited. My lunch did not dissappoint, in fact, it was much more food than I expected, and delicious. I started with a cantaloupe agua fresca. There is something so exotic to me about melon juice. It was so thick and refreshing. I reluctantly passed up the daily special, a squash blossom quesadilla, in favor of a carne asada taco (yum), jicama salad (tossed with grapefruit and topped with cilantro, roasted pumpkin seeds, avocado and jalapeno), and pinto beans with queso fresco. Delicious!
Dinner: It was the 4th of July, and some friends invited us up to their backyard bbq in Berkeley. After that lunch, I didn't have much of an appetite, but greatly enjoyed a barbequed pork rib and potato salad. The icing on the cake was a strawberry crisp with vanilla icecream that one of the young guests just decided to make last minute, because her sister's CSA had an overflow of strawberries. One man's trash is another man's treasure: I couldn't think of something more decadent at that moment than a pan of sugared, bubbling strawberry goodness.