I know, it’s been rather… a while. But there have been oh so many reasons for it. And I mean many.
I’ve semi-permanently-for-the-time-being-at-least-the-next-year-maybe-more relocated to Northern California for my dissertation research. I’m staying at my parents’ house for the foreseeable future, as a broke grad student sometimes must, since I still have my apartment in Southern California. I’m away from my own kitchen, with its familiar appliances, equipment, accoutrement, and the perfect light in which to take photographs. I’m not cooking and baking only for myself nearly as much, or for me and one other person, but instead for me and my parents (as a token of my undying gratitude for their endless generosity) or for me and a very large group of friends. My routine and my own “way” have been totally thrown off. My stomach has been… well, you can guess how my stomach has been. And there have been some other, bigger, more personal changes that have kept me quieter and sadder than I might normally be.
But I’m still around, and I think it’s time to call it a comeback.
I don’t have too many photos of food for you at the moment, but I do have a few tales to tell. Of the 300+ cookies I baked for a reception for a friend’s new chamber music recital at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Of the collard greens in bacon recipe I made up for my parents. Of the eating out I’ve been doing now and again, here in the land of endless restaurants (but sadly, no sushi that compares to the sushi of Orange County). Of the “family” meals my friends and I have here, on a fairly regular basis, when we come together to cook, eat, drink, and laugh.
The other tales, the more personal and less food-related ones? I’m telling some (but not all) of those too, over at Oh Hey Great.
So let’s not waste any more time. Last night I went for dinner with my folks at a restaurant in West Berkeley my mom’s been dying to try. It’s called Maritime East and is the East Bay sister restaurant to Café Maritime in San Francisco. Like a total boob, I left my camera at home, which was a huge mistake because it was one of the better meals I’ve had in recent weeks. Not as good as, say, Riva Cucina but faultless and delectable just the same.
We shared most everything. This included what may be the single best burger I’ve ever had in my life, a cheeseburger with Neuske’s bacon and avocado and shoestring onion rings, loaded onto the ideal bun–soft but substantial enough to withstand the burger and all its juices without disintegrating, perfectly toasted, and just the right flavor to complement the burger. Which, did I mention, was cooked perfectly medium rare. The burger also came with fries (onion rings AND fries!). The onion rings were meant to be eaten as part of the burger, but my dad took them off and we shared them with the fries. By shared I mean inhaled.
We also had the “deviled” Dungeness crab linguini with a poached egg and Meyer lemon confit. The sauce was both rich and delicate, tomato-y and zesty, and had a kick of spice to it that came in at the end. It was creamy without being heavy, not coating the tongue but bewitching it with a complex layering of flavors.
Finally, we shared one of the small pizzas from the wood burning oven–a disc of chewy, blistered dough topped with artichokes, goat cheese, tomatoes, and za’atar. There may have been a few golden raisins nestled amidst the white puffs of cheese. Unfortunately, it was hard to slow down and examine it at length: TOO GOOD MUST EAT NOW. (I admit, we took half the pizza home and I had it for lunch today. It was just as good cold. Any remaining raisins had sunken in and once again, I was too entranced with the pizza to pull it apart.)
Oh. Did I mention? The side dish? That we should have gotten two or three orders of? Brussels and pea sprout hash. Please read those words again one more time: Brussels. And. Pea. Sprout. Hash. Let me explain that for you: Pea sprouts! (Or pea tips, if you prefer.) With Brussels sprouts! That have been all chopped up! And then sautéed together with maybe some garlic and I don’t know what else except maybe magic.
So in conclusion, friends and readers and anyone else here, if you live near Maritime East, you should go.
Meanwhile, I’ll be here, reading the comments you’ve left (they totally make my day, by the way, and make me wish I could go out for coffee with some of you), forcing myself back into a healthier dietary regimen (regime!), writing again, and most likely baking up some treats for my friends and neighbors along the way. If you happen to be one of those, drop me a line. Hell, drop me a line anyway.