Happy Bunny to You! Ahh, home. Nathan and I got off the plane from San Francisco this afternoon and went straight to my Dad & Susanna’s for Easter dinner with my aunt Mary & uncle Bruce, as well as Stacey& Cooper. Couldn’t ask for a sweeter way to ease back in to winter, you know? Garlicky, crusty leg of lamb with cucumber-yogurt sauce; creamy, deadly pommes dauphinoise (a Meyer-family favorite, I believe originating with my aunt Jean, recipe posted in comments below); fresh, warm bread; salad with pears and pecans; and lemon pie with whipped cream. Yeah, the food in San Fran was incredible, but home does not suck when Susanna and Mary are cooking! Even after four consecutive 70-degree sunny days, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is (mostly) good to be home – no small task, thank you Susanna & Dad!
So, back to San Francisco for a moment…Nathan and I opened our Food Adventure with a Chinese dim sum feast at Tian Sing, near our hotel and very tasty. Shatteringly crisp spring rolls, delicate steamed shrimp dumplings, pillowy-soft steamed barbecue pork baos, and garlicky, crunchy Chinese broccoli… Happy start indeed, woo hoo!
Thursday we hopped on a cable car to always-hoppin’ Fisherman’s Wharf. It just happened to be lunchtime, so we ducked into In-N-Out Burger before the madness hit (and oh did it hit, about three minutes after we ordered), a major highlight for Nathan. Easy enough to order at this California fast-food superstar – the menu consists of burgers and fries, baby, burgers and fries. Fresh beef + fresh-cut potatoes = deliciousness. We walked off the burger-y excess (ack) along the waterfront, cruising various piers, parks, and shops for the entire, sunny afternoon.
Friday we boarded a ferry for a tour of Angel Island and Alcatraz. The appropriately named Angel Island – as in, heavenly – is the largest island in the bay and pretty much one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. (Nathan and I ate a picnic lunch alongside this charming little cove, with a hill of fragrant eucalyptus trees behind us.) Alcatraz is stunning too, while at the same time entirely creepy and depressing. The audio walking tour is a must-do, lively and fascinating, narrated by gravelly-voiced former guards and inmates and punctuated with (very, sometimes overly!) realistic sound effects.
We made it back to the hotel just in time to be picked up for dinner by my cousin Blake, who lives in San Franciso proper with his wife Tegan, daughter Gracyn (5), and son Knox (3). Blake and Knox (only the boys were able to join us for dinner) whisked us off to Sausalito (over the Golden Gate Bridge, woo hoo!) for bay-side deliciousness at Fish. Nathan had his first fish-n-chips dinner ever (thumbs up), while Knox enjoyed “chicken”-n-chips (wink), and I downed yummy grilled-fish tacos.
Saturday, sweet Saturday, we toyed with the idea of renting a convertible to drive up the coast, through wine country hills, and back to the city to catch all the breath-taking sights and scents of rural NoCal. (We decided we needed two more days – one to drive north of the city, one to drive south, to visit my aunt Jean and uncle Del – Blake’s parents – in Carmel. Next time…) But we settled on an even better idea, thanks to Blake’s suggestion to head first thing for the famous Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market. Oh Lord, if only we all had access to such glory! A beautiful bounty of fresh, locally grown produce and meat, available year-round (!), along the waterfront to make it, you know, ridiculously (painfully) gorgeous. Man, it was just insane. OK, I was just insane, walking around completely jealous of the locals casually buying fresh flowers, crusty bread, fresh pa
stries, organic meats, fresh fish and shellfish, artisanal cheeses, Napa Valley wines, local beers, fresh vegetables (including a whole stand of wild mushrooms!) and fruits. Picture our Minneapolis Farmers’ Market (which I love) about twenty times more sophisticated and lovely. Foodie. Heaven.
And then…Mexican tasties (yes, here I go again), giddily ordered at Mijita Cocina Mexicana, a permanent cafe in the Ferry Building. Fresh, authentic, a little Mexican cafe like this would clean up in Minneapolis, don’t you think? I mean, I know there are lots of yummy little taquerias around, which I’ve admittedly totally under-explored, but this place was so accessible, and so real, I couldn’t help but sigh a bit knowing there wasn’t quite an equal ’round these parts. Which is probably a good thing, in the name of moderation and such… (After chowing down on carnitas with tomatillo salsa; a fresh masa quesadilla filled with cheese, epazote, and roasted chiles; guac (of course); and chilaquiles drizzled with crema and served alongside creamy beans, we were a bit, uh, full. Good thing there’s such a huge, cool Chinatown in which to walk off a Mexican feast!)
Soooo…as I said, we’re back in the black-n-white photo we call home, and it’s…good? Lovely Easter dinner definitely smoothed the transition. A good night’s sleep never hurts. It’s a little sad that Spring Break ’08 will soon be but a happy memory, but hopefully a spring of our own is coming to distract us – soon?!
Creamy, garlicky, and lightly browned, these are perfect alongside a roast.
2 cloves garlic, crushed
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled
1/3 c. butter, melted
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. fresh cream
Tip: potatoes can be peeled ahead and held in water until ready to slice and assemble. They bake for 30-40 minutes, and are best eaten immediately, so time accordingly.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle a little of the melted butter in a 9x13 baking pan. Spread crushed garlic across bottom of the pan. Slice two potatoes very thinly and evenly, using a sharp chef’s knife or mandoline. Layer potatoes over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, drizzle with some of the melted butter. Thinly slice two more potatoes, layer them into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with melted. Repeat for a third time with the last two potatoes, using the rest of the melted butter. Pour cream around sides and top. Bake for 30-40 minutes until nicely browned. Serve immediately.
They were indeed lovely. It pretty much sucks to be home, although I'm doing my best to shake off my bad attitude and mood. Hrumph.
Looking forward to see you, though!!!
Welcome back my dear friend! Man, those sunny skies are looking lovely. Soon, soon....!