Ahhh, Mozzarella. Oozing out of a freshly baked eggplant parmesan, a lasagna, or melted on a pizza, Mozzarella makes everything better. This versatile, mild cheese originated in southern Italy and has become one of the most beloved cheeses in America (string cheese, anyone?). What differentiates Mozzarella from cheeses is it’s high moisture content and pulled layers that make up the texture we all crave.
A while back, I had the good fortune of being invited to a friend’s house to sample the delicious Mexican-American cuisine of Chica’s Chef Maria Esquivel. At the time, Maria was working hard on building her business and establishing her menu, no easy task in the competitive, foodie-crazed-scene that is the Bay Area today. The menu she prepared for this group of friends included tortas, chicharrónes, and fried plantains. I had sampled many a torta before, and good ones too, but they failed to adequately prepare me for the creativity and combinations of flavors that Maria would be serving that evening. (more…)
In the simmering heat of New Orleans, one would think the last thing on my mind would be a hot, thick stew. One would be wrong. Wandering the sun-bleached graves of New Orleans’s past, bouncing past brass bands at every corner along Jackson Square, sipping boozy drinks that under any other circumstances would be considered crimes against humanity – it ignites a fever in you, a fever for spice and history and flavor and community. Gumbo is a kind of talisman in Louisiana. Born of a conflict of cultures, of poverty and slavery and the rough need of the oppressed, gumbo is the perfect comfort food. Everyone (and everyone’s mother) has his or her own version, so the flavor has the ability to transport you to a place of security and tender nostalgia. The meal requires attention and, traditionally, the contributions of several people, making it a manifestation of the kind of community that supports its members in both spiritual and material ways. When everyone brings something – spicy andouille, chicken, fatty slices of bacon – the result is rich in flavor and meaning. (more…)
Last Friday we went to a pop-up dinner in the city, planned and executed by a friend-of-a-friend (that was a delightfully San Francisco sentence to write). Inspired by the wacky and absurd creativity of Willy Wonka (with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory playing on a projector in the clean loft space), Pure Imagination was a romp through Nic Winzey’s culinary dreamscape. It was a hugely successful event, all the more so because it was Nic’s first. The inspiration provided by friends and family (people you actually know) is often the most powerful, and Nic has it in buckets. She took a rough job market and transformed it into an opportunity to showcase her impressive cooking and entertaining abilities. The rest of us, supportive loved ones and hangers-on alike, showed up to reap the benefits (namely a succession of tempting bites, a glass or two of wine, and some new friends). (more…)
On a recent afternoon, we borrowed a friend of ours and strolled to Shattuck for the 5th Annual Taste of North Berkeley. I can tell you now, it tastes GREAT. Our friend – let’s call him…. Dread Pirate of the North – gamely allowed us to photograph him along the way, so we set off in high spirits.
We like pie. This will become forcefully evident as you continue to read, but I thought I’d better inform you now so there’s no confusion about the direction of this post. We are pie girls. We appreciate pie in all of its forms: double-crusted, savory, fruit, sweet, hand, cow. Just kidding on that last one. Ew. My lovely co-blogger has a surprising tolerance for pie, despite her avowed lack of a sweet tooth, so I try to take advantage of this as often as possible. When a mutual friend who has, well, a fascination with pie, invited us on a Pie Day Adventure in San Francisco, we signed on.
Easter has arrived, replacing the deprivations of Lent with a new season of celebration and plenty and/or leaving us all with a sugar-hangover and a bunch of empty plastic eggs scattered around the house. Whichever experience most closely mirrors your own, I think we can all say it’s a fun holiday. The religious origins of Easter are well-known – we’re told Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose from the dead three days later, a miracle Christians celebrate on the first Sunday after the full post-Equinox moon – and it’s closely tied to the Jewish festival of Passover. It has, of course, now developed as a hybrid of spiritual practices and modern, secular traditions (the latter bearing the much-derided stain of commercial manipulation), but the essential message remains the same: you now have license to party. And party we did. (more…)
The San Francisco Bay Area provides a nearly endless array of activities and opportunities – from digging a shovel into your local community garden to chowing down on nachos at a Warriors game. As a natural inclination for fun and adventure nudges us ever onward, we have made it our unofficial goal to explore our home to the fullest – one of the best and most enjoyable things about it being its connection to the outdoors. Stretching out along the coast, the Bay Area embraces its gentle mountains, crashing surf, and criss-crossing bike trails with an inspiring and encouraging enthusiasm.
Growing up in this obliging and fertile place, we have both developed a taste for fresh air and salt spray. With truly beautiful weather forecasted for the weekend, we decided to take advantage of the rare sunshine and head to Pacifica for a morning of crabbing and an afternoon of cooking.
Cue the ominous music.