I have long claimed to be more of a cake person, but this may be the year that I turn over (turnover!) to the pie side. Over two weeks’ time, I made a batch of rhubarb hand pies and a stone fruit crostata that were so amazing that it’s really surprising that I didn’t eat the whole batch or pie myself. Pictured above is the crostata that I made at Mom’s place while we were there for the July 4 holiday. This “Spiced Crostata with Pluots” recipe, as presented by Sunset magazine, was excellent. That said, the crust on the Rhubarb Hand Pies (from Smitten Kitchen) that Becky and I made in late June (pictured here), which benefited from some buttermilk, tasted a little better and was a little easier to handle (which is good because hand pies involve … handling).
Perhaps the fruit desserts were so good because both dishes were made with friends and family? Local fruit in season helped, as well. Maybe I’ll just be a cake person during the dark, non-fruit-bearing months.
Back to the food: we consumed a fair amount of it during our recent trip to the west coast. This isn’t really surprising, considering that Steve and I love California for its food sources, and there is no shortage of some of my favorite things (seafood and good beer) along the Oregon Coast, where we spent the middle portion of our trip. Also: it was a nine-day trip.
In fact, we consumed so much food that since the trip, we’ve put ourselves on a “vegan before 6pm” diet and we’ve put a limitation on our beer consumption. We are making an effort to drop a few of the pounds that have crept up since we arrived in our
early mid forties.
The trip’s focus on food also has me wondering about my general focus on food, at least in regards to exploration in the world. Do I choose my trips based on food?
Grand Canyon hike in July: No. Mountain ski trip in January: No. Visits with family in Oregon (July) and Utah (August): No. Looks like the decisions are based on activities and family. Good. Mostly. Perhaps my planning could use a little more altruistic influence. More on this … later.
But we do eat well while on the road/path/piste. Here are some bests from this last trip in California and Oregon:
Best of it all: the crostata pictured and explained at the top of this post. It was prepared and enjoyed with family on a holiday that involved fireworks. Bonus: we ate some as leftovers while on the road, a few days later. Pie for breakfast is always a good thing.
Best meal: the “daily toast” dish (with a mocha coffee) at farm : table. We found this little café the morning we arrived in San Francisco, with the help of Yelp and our hiking shoes. This “toast” (not our only toast at a restaurant this trip. Is this a trend?) consisted of some very fresh focaccia, with stewed berries, sweetened mascarpone, and toasted hazelnuts, all stacked on top of it. While we waited, the server donated a little cup of delicious foamed milk to our cause (waiting for the food, and for a table to open up), which I lapped up with glee. Another bonus: right in front of this cafe was a parklet (which, I just discovered, was funded by a Kickstarter project). I’d read about parklets recently and while I didn’t seek any out with the same veracity that got us to check out New York’s High Line park, I was excited to see my first one. New ways to use urban spaces are so much fun to see! Here are a few photos of the farm:table one. Fortunately, one of the cafe tables freed up, and we were able to set our food down on level surfaces.
Best drink: the Drake Manhattan. The keys to this excellence: port, maple syrup, good bartenders, and a super-swank hotel lobby lounge. Kudos the the Sir Francis Drake; we had a lovely stay. No, I didn’t pick this Kimpton hotel because of the hilarious yoga mat ad, but I did use that mat!
Best beer drink: the 28 Fingers Wit from Arch Rock Brewing in Gold Beach, Oregon.
Second best beer: the one(s) we enjoyed at Crater Lake Lodge, another beautiful and historic national park lodge (we visited the North Rim lodge last summer). After braving dangerous UV rays on a brief hike, then weaving through hordes of other summer vacationers at concession stands (I had to get postcards!), we kept walking. We were rewarded by the appearance of an amiable server and comfy spot to sit and enjoy another view of the caldera. It’s possible that I’d have enjoyed even a standard lawnmower beer at that point, but I got far better: Deschutes’ Mirror Pond Ale.
Best farmers’ market: the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market, in San Francisco on Saturdays. While we came to Frisco because Steve scouted it out last summer and had some restaurants and landscapes to show me, the main activity that I scouted out ahead of time was a visit to a farmer’s market, and this was because of figs. Summer + california = figs, to me. And I found some amazing ones, there. We also found some hard-to-find-in-Minnesota flageolet beans and Steve met Steve Sando, one of the purveyors of said beans (via Rancho Gordo). We’ve bought his beans before, and we use his cookbook, so this was a special treat for both of us.
The market and nearby area provided all sorts of surprises! You just don’t see green (fresh) fava beans, fish jerky and Linzer cookies at the St. Paul farmers’ markets.
Best food that was still planted in the ground: the artichokes growing in the community garden that my mom helps make happen (more on this in my next post, about the non-food joys of our trip). Gigantic, gorgeous!
Best dessert that I didn’t cook: the White Chocolate Soufflé at Eureka’s Restaurant 301. I did not know that soufflé could be sweet, nor as fluffy and glossy as this one was. Wow.
Best dessert made by a Kelvin machine: the salted caramel ice cream at Smitten in San Francisco. Definitely worth the 10 minute wait!
Best messy and carnivorous feast: dungeness crab with Mom, at her place.
Best bivalves: Kusshi oysters, at Local Ocean in Newport, Oregon. Sweet, good. I’m not an oyster person, but mom is, and we enabled her (and I’m trying). Also: slippery food is fun.
Best breakfast out: at Dottie’s, on the morning of the Pride Parade in San Francisco. Grilled chili-cheddar cornbread: need I say more? We waited in line, albeit on a gorgeous sunny day fit for a day-long parade, for over an hour to get a seat.
Best French food: a toss-up. I loved the macarons, especially the Cherry Amarena, at Chantal Guillon. But the Brandade de Morue (cod potato soufflé) at Café Claude, also on San Francisco, was different, warm, comforting, and fantastic. Yum.
We ate plenty more, and almost all of it was very good, but I’ll stop here. Stay tuned for a story about our non-food adventures on the west coast this summer.