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Archive for June, 2010

Sisters

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting.  There have been many moments like this where we do ridiculous things and then bust a gut laughing later.

The first day she was here we were walking down the street together when a person walking past us said “Twiiiiins???!!”

We laughed at that too.

-a

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Sunday Streets

One of the things I’ve been doing here is volunteering with the San Francisco Bike Coalition and something that that lead me to was Sunday Streets.  An event where they close down a few blocks of the city on Sunday and let only pedestrians and cyclists in.

Being San Francisco, it generally turns into a big street party with lots of people in costumes doing funny and entertaining things.

I was standing there with a stop sign making people stop so they didn’t get run over at a cross street and chatting with people as they went by.

This guy was one of my favourites.  It’s not a great photo, but he had taken lots of the heavy wood off of the piano and mounted it on a bike.  He was peddling around the streets playing as he went.  It made me think of my high school friend Phil.  He would do this for sure.  He would also probably have a bunch of people riding along with him playing and singing show tunes.  Oh, the days of being a band geek.

-a

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Bread

Do you remember way back when I said I wanted to make more bread instead of buying it?  Well, today’s the day!

Bread attempt number one: so far so good.  I just took it out of the oven to see if it was done yet and snapped this photo.  It’s not quite so it’s baking a bit longer while I tell you about it.

I used this recipe for a basic white loaf, but cut it in half because I only have this pan*.  I decided I wanted to try one just the way the recipe had written it** (the left loaf) and the other with some Pecorino Truffle cheese rolled into it with rosemary and salt on top***.

Well, so far it looks perfect.  I hope it tastes as good as it smells.  It is putting me into a dreamy state as the fog has rolled into my neighbourhood and there are clouds blowing past the window.

As soon as it comes out of the oven, I’m putting on my jacket and a scarf and heading down to the grocery store to get the ingredients for supper: Enchiladas with Mole sauce (from my all time favourite cook book “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Maddison) and chocolate tahini cakes for dessert.  Peter’s not home until 8, so I should have enough time to get it mostly done.  As long as I don’t sit around eating freshly baked bread and drinking tea.  Okay.  Dinner might be late.

-a

*note to self: buy a bread pan or two.

** So, not entirely as written.  I basted it with butter on the top ’cause I like it that way and oiled the counter I rolled the bread on because that’s how my Mom always did it.

***  You know me.  I can’t leave well enough alone.

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The C. I. A.

The second night we were in Napa, we stumbled across the Culinary Institute of America.

We wandered up the steep driveway to check it out.  One of the first things I noticed was this sign:

And then I looked up.

Do you see them all?!!!!  And this was just a small part of the building.  SO MANY BIRDS!

After we wandered around for a bit, checked out their corkscrew collection and citrus grove, we decided to head back to the hotel before we decided where to go for supper.

Our options:

1.  A pig roast at the first winery we went to.  They grow much of their own food for the restaurant, have tasty wine and great olive oil.  We had smelled the pig roasting the day before and had seen one of the cooks basting it in apple cider.  $35 a plate and all you can eat.

2.  Return to the Culinary Institute of America and try their suppers there.

I’m sure it’s pretty clear which one we chose.  Yup.  The C.I.A.

Best.     Dinner.     Ever.

We started off with a sampler of appetizers: cold red pepper soup, clams, pork buns, smoked salmon and something else I can’t quite remember.  They gave us slices of warm rustic bread and great olive oil* and balsamic vinegar.

Peter and I shared a first course of stuffed squid and followed it up with a second course of salmon with king mushrooms.  Our server recommended a delightful wine that was on their clearance list.  It was delicious and went wonderfully with our supper.

Then we had dessert.  The sampler plate again.  Shared amongst the four of us.

Both Peter and Ryan opted to try flights of desert wines – Peter the brandies and Ryan the ports.  They were all delicious and a perfect closing to a great meal.  Then we biked home.  Tipsy.  In the dark.  Thank goodness there was a bike path.

And that is the story.  If you have a chance to go to a culinary institute, I would highly recommend it.

*It turns out that olive oil doesn’t all taste the same and that if you’re using it in something where you’ll actually taste it, getting the good stuff is worth it.  The flavours are amazing!  We went to one wine tasting where they paired the wines with food, and then afterwards had us do an olive oil tasting.  Shots of olive oil.  The idea made me cringe at first, but it was fantastic!!!  I’ve definitely got to find some good olive oil.

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Wine Country

Last week, two of our lovely friends from Victoria came to visit us and we went on a three day wine tour of the Napa Valley wine country.

After plenty of research, we found a place to stay right in St. Helena.  It turns out that if you want to go to lots of wineries, Napa itself isn’t the place to stay.  St. Helena was perfect: quaint with lots of wineries and restaurants and green space around.  We ended up staying at El Bonito, which is a motel with a TERRIBLE website, but it’s reasonably priced, has a pool and hot tub, lots of green spice and is in a great location.

The first day we rented bicycles and toodled around the countryside.  We tasted plenty of wine and had a great time.  It was hot and sunny and perfect.

The scenery was fantastic.  Vineyards as far as the eye can see, interspersed with beautiful houses.

I learned a lot about wine and can now taste a good wine and know that it’s good.  I cannot, however, look at a wine bottle and know that it will be good.  I guess that just comes with practice.  Now I go to the store and look for a label I recognize and a kind of grape I like.  I generally do not like Cabernet Sauvignon, and I do like Merlot and Zinfandels.  Also, if I find a white that’s not oaked, I’m usually in for that too.

I found some strange plants while we were there.   I have no idea what they are.

The first one is a flower that blooms, then pushes up more stem and blooms again.  I like to imagine that it is somehow straight out of a Dr. Seuss book.

The next, equally Dr. Seussian plant was this giant tree that looked so much like a Garry Oak that I was dreaming of Victoria:

and then I discovered its fruit:

Not like any other tree fruit I have seen before.  It was hard and light and I want someone to tell me what kind of tree this is!  That’s no acorn, so it can’t be an oak!

Next up: Dinner at the Culinary Institute of America (or as I call it, the CIA)

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Every once in a while, my delightful cat lets me pet her belly.  I think she’s ticklish because it never lasts long.

Something about this picture makes me want to take a nap.  The cozy warmth of it, maybe.  Somehow I need to get in on that lazy afternoon on the couch.  To be fair, I’m the one taking the picture right beside them.

Hope you are all having a lovely Saturday afternoon.

-a

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My lemon tree grew

Its one lemon grew bigger

It fell to the floor.

lemon

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