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is it right?

all photos/video courtesy openbuildinginstitute.org. donate to their kickstarter here.

all photos/video courtesy openbuildinginstitute.org. Donate to their kickstarter here.

Do we, each of us, have a right to shelter and food?

A friend of mine uses a Martin Luther King quote as part of his email signature. It seems especially poignant right now as we weather a social climate that is exceedingly animus.

Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?
Expediency asks the question – is it politic?
Vanity asks the question – is it popular?
But conscience asks the question – is it right?
And there comes a time when one must take a position
that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular;
but one must take it because it is right.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In addition to social ills that include race relations, economic challenges and religious non-understanding, there are those among us that need help with the basic human needs of shelter and food. As a society are we obligated to provide these basic human needs?

Marcin Jakubowski thinks that making home and hearth more affordable, and less resource intense, is not only do-able but right. He is working on an open source initiative to make affordable eco-housing widely accessible. Along with a host of consultants on everything from energy to compliance to architecture, he calls his endeavor the Open Building Institute. He knows it can work because he has done it. And he believes that you can do it too.

kickstarter link
The idea is that each one of us, either with friends or hired help, can build a home. The Open Building Institute will provide the knowledge: a library of modules and instructions, building materials production facility, training, even a certified builder if you so desire. You begin with what you can afford…could be a tiny starter module with a kitchen, bathroom and loft. As you can afford you add an aquaponic greenhouse for growing food and fish, maybe a separate bedroom, perhaps another bathroom and a library or office. The home is made from CEB (compressed earth blocks) from on site soil, uses solar panels for energy, hydronic in-floor heating. The home operates off the grid and grows as finances and needs change. No mortgage (unless you mortgage the land), no power bills, lower grocery bills.

I’m 100% in favor. Yes, I do believe that we all have a right to shelter and food. And we also have a responsibility to work toward that end. If you want to support the Open Building Institutes Kickstarter you can be part of this solution. Donate $20 and get a book laying out the OBI method. Donate $500 and you can participate in a 5 day build and learn all the nuts and bolts of this system.

In case you were wondering, I have no connection to Marcin Jakubowski or Open Building Institute. This project was forwarded to me by a mutual friend, Nat Turner, who you may remember hearing about in Parti* Notes.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

who wants tacos?

taco-bell1

once upon a time taco bell and i were born…

Have you noticed all the Taco Bell chatter lately? Makes me a bit nostalgic. There was a Taco Bell next to my dorm at San Diego State all those years ago. In the light of day you’d never catch me there, but after midnight all bets were off. Sometime around 1am, when I was done (ahem) studying, those greasy little tacos called my name.

tacos in college

It seems the same is true of today’s college students. My daughter, who avoids dairy and gluten due to digestive issues, succumbed to a Taco Bell burrito late one night recently. I’m sure it was after a long bout of (ahem) studying. Not a good move for her, but she was swept up in the college taco tide along with a group of friends.

And this seems to be the tide that Taco Bell continues to rely on for some pretty sustained recent growth. After graduation I lost track of Taco Bell, aside from noticing they teamed up with KFC in a few locations (an odd match I thought). And that was probably fine with them. Somehow, even with all of the cultural moves toward healthy eating, SLOW food and the like, Taco Bell has managed to maintain the interest of the ever hungry 18-22 year old set.

old taco style: al fresco

When Taco Bell popped up in my feed 3 times in the last month I sat up and took notice. While they have made some effort to offer some healthier options (um, Dorito taco anyone?), what Taco Bell seems to really be focusing on is image. Taco Bell’s original style (if you’re a child of the 70s you’ll recognize that photo at the top of the page) was unique. The brick facade, arches, tile roof and the ever present bell didn’t veer off theme for a couple of decades. If you wanted to sit you did so outside, usually next to a fire pit. Sometime in the 80s the iconic style changed to suburban strip mall and lost most of its charm.

new taco style: beer and wifi

Then last year there was the shipping container store introduced at SXSW. And now Taco Bell is introducing 4 new store styles with an end game, it seems, of getting customers to stay rather than go (slow food rather than SLOW food I presume). Their new concepts include wifi, lounge seating, some have fireplaces, there is natural wood, gray (the color du jour it seems), modern art, mid-century seating, Victorian light fixtures and they’re even testing alcohol in a few locations. According to FastCo, it’s a mashup of every current design trend.

Taco Bell seems to be holding on to just a tiny bit of their own visual history. There’s the occasional pop of fireclay orange. Some of the themes use the textured brick of decades past. But overall, this is a complete overthrow. It will be interesting to see how this generation of Taco Bell fares with the current generation of technology toting college student.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

slide in to Portland

Partying it up with PhotoShop after a trip to Portland. Check out the nice things I found underfoot. And overfoot. One of these photos is the actual color of my boots….

Sometimes you really need to look down. This is what I found on a plaque on a Portland sidewalk:

We, the citizens of Oregon, recognizing that the future health and well-being of our state depends on the strength and diversity of its people, stand together to celebrate the uniqueness of cultures, lifestyles, ideas and abilities that unite us as a community.

Makes me feel a little better about some of the icky that’s been floating around in these dis-united states of ours. I hope that once this election cycle finishes we can get back to being the actual United States. Portland was, however, a little slice of heaven and a break from all election coverage. And of course a lot of beer and food.

Three of us found an adorable place in the Burnside neighborhood of Portland called Slide Inn. Named after an inn owned by the chef’s family when he was a child, Chef Eugen serves American and German cuisine focusing on (of course, this is Portland people!) locally sourced organic ingredients. But what really thrilled my non-dairy gluten free daughter were the wide variety of items that she hasn’t been able to eat for years without severely inhibiting her digestion. Chocolate cinnamon french toast! She’s ready to move. Apparently Chef Eugen’s wife eats a restricted diet, so he cooks for her as well as the rest of us. The menu is diverse, and everything was absolutely delicious. I recommend a shot of Chef Eugen’s homemade ginger syrup in your coffee every morning.

Slide Inn is on a residential street a block from one of the hip breakfast places in Portland that we weren’t willing to wait 90 minutes to try. And thank heavens they had that crazy wait. Because Chef Eugen is a gem. Not only does he do all of the prep, he does all of the cooking, all of the serving, all of the clean-up and he makes everything from scratch. And because I asked, he very kindly has shared his recipe for his homemade ginger beer with me and you.

Chef Eugen’s Slide Inn Ginger Beer (in his own words)

9 cup water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup ginger ground
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon dry yeast

Add the tartar, lemon juice, water, ginger,sugar into a pot and boil for 1/2 hour, turn down to a simmer once it comes to a hard boil. Cool down slightly and refrigerate. Let the temperature drop to 75-80 degrees and stir in the yeast. Place a lid on the pot and let the fermentation process begin. You can let it stand for as little as 3 hours or overnight.

I usually do it overnight so that I have a full day of letting it ferment. I like to start the fill process in the morning so that the process can fully complete. The liquid then get’s strained and filled into glass bottles that have a pop top on them. Fill them no higher than 3/4 so that when you burp them the ginger beer will have the space to rise. Place the bottles in a dark room or at a minimum no direct sunlight.

Open the bottle caps carefully and slowly, never fully open them as they will literally explode in your face. When burping the bottles never point the bottles in your or anyone’s face. If you want a sweeter ginger beer repeat this process for 2-3 days, otherwise 1 will do it. Once you have released or burped the ginger beer 3 times you can refrigerate. The colder the refrigerator the less fermentation happens.

*Remember; if it’s not cold enough the fermentation process will start up again, the more that happens the more it will cause gasses to build.

We managed to fit quite a few meals in between walking as many neighborhoods as we could. If you go, here are a couple more places to try. If you find something else that’s great (especially if it’s not in the guide books), let me know.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

red hills market

Red Hills Market in the wine country south of Oregon. I got dinner to go for 14 people from pizzas, to salads to sandwiches and a whole lot of tea for $150. The food was amazing and the destination was worth the trip.

kopi coffee

In the Burnside neighborhood, Kopi Coffee makes spicy coffees (try the ginger latte…the bomb!) and teas and serves a unique and really delicious brunch menu. Great things come in small packages.

ruddick wood

Ruddick/Wood: yes it’s Newberg which Oregon’s wine country, but it’s Oregon, so I got the beer. And for heaven’s sake just stop fussing and get the fries.

New Seasons Market is everything a local grocer should be. The Portland version of that other national brand.

New Seasons Market is everything a local grocer should be. The Portland version of that other national brand. I got more than a few meals here to take back to my cute Airbnb.

james (and me)

all photos courtesy Alanna Taylor-Tobin/bojongourmet.com

The James Beard Award nominees for 2016 were announced yesterday and once again San Francisco and the Bay Area have made a proud showing. Below are links to our local nominees, but before I get to that, here is my own personal nominee in the cookbook/baking and the photography category for next year: Alanna Taylor-Tobin of Bojon Gourmet has created her first cookbook due out in September. It’s called Alternative Baker: Reinventing Dessert with Gluten-Free Grains and Flours. I’ve been following Alanna’s blog for ages and not only are her recipes amazing (and don’t get all hung up on the gluten-free…her gluten-free is not a lesser than substitute for gluten-full, these are recipes that stand up on their own) her photography is out of this world. Her pictures make my mouth water every time. Between now and September, check out Bojon Gourmet and you’ll see I’m right. Come September you can have her right in your very own kitchen.

Now back to James Beard….nominees were announced yesterday right here in San Francisco at the Presidio Officer’s Club. Winners will be announced on May 2 in Chicago. Here are our many local nominees. My next stop is Quince (gotta save a few nickels….this is not for the faint of wallet). Not only is Michael Tusk nominated for Outstanding Chef, but Quince is also nominated for Outstanding Service and you know how I feel about that (here and here)!

Best New Restaurant

Liholiho Yacht Club
871 Sutter Street, San Francisco

Outstanding Baker

Belinda Leong and Michel Suas
B. Patisserie
2821 California Street, San Francisco

William Werner
Craftsman and Wolves
746 Valencia Street and 1643 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Outstanding Bar Program

Bar Agricole
355 11th Street, San Francisco

Outstanding Chef

Michael Tusk
Quince
470 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Outstanding Restaurateur

Michael Mina
Mina Restaurants (Michael Mina, Bourbon Steak, RN74, and others)
San Francisco

Cindy Pawlcyn
Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, Cindy’s Waterfront at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Napa, CA

Outstanding Service

Quince
470 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco

Best Chef: West

Matthew Accarrino
SPQR
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

Dominique Crenn
Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

Corey Lee
Benu
22 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco

So now make like the Oscars and go eat at all of these fine places before the judges announce their decision. See if you agree! And if you need a date let me know….I may need to borrow a few more nickels.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

food tv

 

Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, the Galloping Gourmet and Martin Yan, those are the chefs I grew up with, the chefs who taught me what I enjoy in a cooking show. Current food television offers a much wider variety than days past, much of which makes me want to run screaming from the room. Kind of the way you’d run from the kitchen of a crazy chef. I’ve worked with chefs who rip phones off walls and throw pots. I don’t want to hang out with them in person or through the TV screen. So if you do enjoy that style of food drama, you should probably click away right now.

If you do enjoy a good cooking show, or entertaining romps through neighborhood restaurants, or info about where food comes from, then stick around. Now that it’s raining in California, and I’ve binge-watched all my current dramas through, it’s time to catch up on food. Check out my list…and send me yours too. Hopefully it will rain for a very long time and I’ll binge-watch my entire list while the drops are still falling, then move on to yours!

restaurant shows

I’ll Have What Phil’s Having: Phil Rosenthal is funny. He’s a writer, an actor (well, he was), a producer and the creator of the TV show Everybody Loves Raymond. And he apparently loves food. So he travels the world with his friends (some of whom you’ll know) and he eats food. He’s done shows in Tokyo, Italy, Paris, Hong Kong, Barcelona and Los Angeles. He will take you to amazing places to eat good food. And you’ll even learn a bit about cooking.

Check, Please! Bay Area: 3 regular joes and a host anonymously visit 3 of their favorite restaurants then discuss their experiences. Very homey and a great way to stay in touch with the Bay Area food scene.

cooking shows

The Mind of a Chef: How do great chefs think? And what do they cook? Crawl right into their creative brains and learn what real chef-ing is about (and no one in this series will refer to themselves as a ‘celebrity chef’, but they are all the best of the best). David Chang, Sean Brock, April Bloomfield, Magnus Nilsson, Ed Lee, Gabrielle Hamilton and David Kinch. Brilliance in the kitchen.

Julia Child: PBS release has released a selection of episodes from various Julia Child’s series. It’s a potpourri of Julia and a lovely way to spend an afternoon! Learn, cook, then see if you can do the voice. ‘Chello….Ihhhhh’m Jhooolia Chaaaiild….’

Good Eats: cooking with Alton Brown, well kind of. Alton Brown isn’t a chef. He’s kind of a geekyscientist who applies his mad science to food. And teaches us how to cook things in a really nerdy but effective way.

more food

Food Forward: Food rebels in the 21st century and beyond. I can’t possibly say it better than they do…‘Food Forward goes way beyond celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, and recipes to reveal the compelling stories and inspired solutions envisioned by food rebels across America who are striving to create a more just, sustainable and delicious alternative to what we eat and how we produce it. Created by a veteran documentary film making team led by Greg Roden, Food Forward explores new ideas of food in America as told by the people who are living them. Each episode will focus on a different theme–school lunch reform, urban agriculture, sustainable fishing, grass-fed beef, soil science–and spotlight the real people who are creating viable alternatives to how we grow food and feed ourselves.’

Enjoy our rainy weather and happy watching…

Keep in touch,
Leslie

 

my favorite restaurant design competition winner is….

…not from the US. As a matter of fact, there was only one US winner this year in the Restaurant and Bar Design Awards 2015. Parq Restaurant, San Diego, won in the ‘colour’ (it’s a competition out of the UK) category. More on our one winner later.

Trends

In the meantime, let’s look at who else short listed. And if you play the bi-coastal best restaurant game, notice that there are 3 entries short-listed from New York and 3 entries short listed from California. And there are 4 entries that are located inside hotels….nice to see this trend continuing. And yes, I know I included a potty shot below. The whole of Mourad is beautiful, but the bathrooms have me swooning. Something else I noticed across the board….a lot of gold. Does this mean we are coming to the end of the reclaimed-from-an-old-barn look? Can we (hopefully) continue to use sustainable materials without having them look like we pulled them out of the basement?  Oh lordy, one can only hope.

lordy people we can be sustainable and still see an end to the reclaimed-from-an-old-barn look Click To Tweet

Short List

all photos courtesy Restaurant and Bar Design Awards and the design teams involved: Studio Munge, Meyer Davis Studio, Dawson Design Associates, Lundberg Design, nemaworkshop, Emporium Design, hOmE Studio and Bluarch.

The winner is…

And our one and only US winner is Parq Restaurant and Nightclub in the GasLamp District of San Diego. Congratulations to Davis Ink on their win! It is definitely a colour-ful space!

all photos courtesy Restaurant and Bar Design Awards and Davis Ink.

Enjoy the pretty pictures. I certainly do!

Keep in touch,
Leslie

riding bikes for farms

IMG_5842

that’s me and my trainer….don’t worry, I’m better at riding than I am at selfies

I’m riding my bike to save farms in Marin. Well kinda. I’m actually riding my bike to see if I can ride 40 miles in a go. My trainer (and hubby) thinks I can do it. And whether I’m successful or not (I will be), my ride fee goes to an amazing cause…it goes to save and protect family farms in Marin. You know, the farms where we get our local eggs, cheese, fruits, veggies and meat. Those farms.

Donate to MALT, support my ride. Let’s keep it local!

Marin is home to many family owned farms, a tradition that dates back 150 years. In the middle of the last century, developers came a callin’, looking at the beautiful land of west Marin and dreaming of big towns and huge profits….for them. That’s when MALT, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, was born. MALT supports family farms by purchasing agricultural conservation easements that disallow the use of farmland for anything but agriculture.

A MALT agricultural conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between MALT and a landowner. MALT easements prohibit non-agricultural residential and commercial development, subdivision, and other uses or practices that are detrimental to sustainable agriculture. MALT easements are perpetual: they remain in effect on the land regardless of change in ownership.

By restricting certain uses, the easement lowers the value of the land. MALT purchases easements from landowners to compensate for the loss of value. Once the sale of an easement is final, MALT extinguishes the development rights on the protected farmland. We do not sell or transfer development rights to another area of the county. The land remains in private ownership and on the tax rolls.

I’m riding nearly every day, getting ready for 40 miles and 1400 feet. So far so good….today’s ride was 35 miles and 1900 feet. I think I’ve got this! I’ll ride, now you write.

Donate to MALT, support my ride.

Keep in touch….keep it real….keep it local,
Leslie

an abundance of tufting

My favorite design contest, Restaurant and Bar Design Awards is gearing up with entries due before April 19. Out of only 37 entries to date here are the 5 from the US. I’m seeing a lot of tufting and nailheads this year. And an abundance of wood finishes. Check these out and get your entry in if you’ve got one this year…let’s show the world how brilliant we US designers are!

Hootan & Associates Design Studio (Southern CA) created Bosscat Kitchen and Libations featuring whiskey and southern style cooking in Newport Beach, CA.

Heitler Houstoun Architects (NYC) created Gypsy Kitchen featuring Spanish cuisine with a dose of Moroccan influence in Atlanta, GA.

AvroKO (NYC) created Momotaro featuring a collision of Japanese cuisine and mid century American style in Chicago, IL.

CCS Architecture (SF and NYC) created TAP (415), an upscale burger bar with a wall of, you guessed it, taps for beer wine and cocktails in San Francisco’s Westfield Mall.

And finally, another entry from Heitler Houstoun Architects (NYC). The Southern Gentleman is a gastropub that features a modern take on southern hospitality in Atlanta, GA.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

restaurants in relationship

loris diner

photo courtesy lorisdiner.com

My first apartment in San Francisco as a recent college grad was about 200 square feet. I had one window, a tiny little kitchenette, a mattress in a drawer (that when pulled out crashed into the couch so I had to sleep with my feet inside the drawer), and a beautiful old tiled bathroom. It was in a barely post-1906 building with a bird cage elevator and a view of the back of the buildings on the north side of Sutter Street. I loved it. The cable car took me to work at Scott’s Seafood at night and the train took me to my day job at a design office in Sunnyvale. Needless to say I wasn’t home much and couldn’t cook anyway, so local cafes became my dining rooms. My favorite was the original Lori’s Diner on Mason which was practically brand new. It wasn’t so much the food as it was the cute boy who worked the grill overnight on the other side of the counter. I’d sit at the counter and try to look alluring or interesting or cute or whatever I thought might turn his head away from his grill. And eventually we became friendly. No romance or happily ever after, but that relationship was one of the first I created as a newcomer to San Francisco.

photo courtesy The Chronicle/John Storey

That’s what diners have always been good at…connecting customers with the people making their food. Creating relationships. The last few years have given us a plethora of open kitchens with the hope that showing customers the kitchen would do the same thing. Yea….not really. All this has done is elevate the chef to a pedestal that the rest of us can’t possibly access, nor do we really want to. Large egos wielding big knives don’t build great friendships. But lately that tide seems to be shifting. At the really high end, Saison makes their attempt at relationship by circling the kitchen with diners and even having the chef who makes each dish (they serve a tasting menu) serve it tableside. Unfortunately I haven’t experienced this first hand as hubby is still recovering from our last expensive dining event. But I certainly appreciate the intention and see it happening, slowly, in less stratospheric price ranges as well.

photo courtesy Michael Short/The Chronicle

photo courtesy Michael Short/The Chronicle

A few weeks ago I went to dinner with a friend at The Commissary in the Presidio. We sat at the kitchen counter, on the grill side and thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the two cooks making our food. All of the watching and talking and smelling even inspired the addition of a couple of items to our bill! Of course the food was delicious (with a team like Traci des Jardins, Robbie Lewis, Reylon Agustin and Bon Appetit Management Company it’s hard to go wrong), but what made the meal special was the engagement we got to experience with the staff. And our new friends were kind enough to share a few cooking pointers!

Even the bakers of the world seem interested in bringing their customers into their bakery kitchens. Dominique Ansel (of Cronut fame) is opening a new bakery that he’s calling ‘Dominique Ansel Kitchen’ in New York’s West Village. Says Dominique: ‘When people walk into the shop, I want them to feel like they’re in the middle of the kitchen. A lot of fine dining restaurants will invite you into the kitchen at the end of the meal. I remember being at Daniel, and watching people walk into the kitchen, being amazed by it all. I’ve always wanted to invite people into the kitchen, so our layout is a whole open kitchen. There will be mirrors above the kitchen, so you can stay and see the action.’ Get me a plane ticket….I’m in!

Keep in touch,
Leslie

Watson wants to be your friend too

 

Chef Watson  is looking for more friends. S/he and the 300 or so of us that have been cooking together for the last few months have discovered some issues, enjoyed some very odd creativity, and have suggested a few changes. Bon Appetit Magazine and IBM gave chef an upgrade and a facelift and now they want to add to the party. Click that last link if you’re interested. I see we are above 800 people already in our little culinary corner of the world. Join us if you’re interested….not only do you get to cook odd combinations and try to figure out what the heck Watson really wants you to do when s/he suggests putting schmaltz on your sandwich, but you get to be part of our private little facebook group!

This year we are having a very small Thanksgiving gathering which, in my world, just means we’ll have that many more leftovers. So last night I was checking the fridge and freezer for food to get rid of  (by cooking it people….I don’t throw food out!) to make room for the massive amounts of food that will end up there sometime late Thursday night. I found a few pieces of chicken and some raspberries that my son is tired of drinking in his morning smoothie. So Chef and I put on our thinking caps and made dinner.

Watson’s Recipe

My Modifications

The results

Watson always makes me laugh. I wonder what the difference is between chicken chicken and loin chicken? I think if there was no oddity in the recipe s/he gave me I’d probably move on to another recipe. The silliness is really half the fun. This dish was interesting for sure, but the recipe could use a few more tweaks. The sauce was much too sweet for my taste so I’d eliminate the honey all together and cook the rosemary with the raspberries to see how those flavors work together. Remember of course that I’m no chef….don’t judge. Other than too much sweetness though, it was very good and definitely pretty!

This was my first attempt since Watson’s makeover and using the program was much easier. The ingredients I entered were chicken, raspberries and balsamic vinegar and the program gave me styles and dishes that Watson thought were good pairs. Some of the styles are pretty funny…is bastille day really a cooking style? Once Watson had figured out a few recipes on which to base suggestions, I was able to choose which base recipe to start from with Watson substituting ingredients. Then I could move a slider to choose something basic or something more unusual.

Join our little cooking party, have a wonderful Thanksgiving and keep in touch,
Leslie

art and bread

bread

It’s autumn here in Northern California. So I’m desperately trying to get my front hedge trimmed (it’s crazy overgrown) before it gets really chilly out there, soup is on my mind constantly, and everyone is opening a new art show everywhere. As we head into my favorite cocooning season, I’ve got to share something that is completely off topic. But if you know me well, you will understand. Once something gets in my head I have to get it out before I can move on. And what I’ve got to share is this amazing bread recipe. In my house we went (mostly) gluten free a couple of months ago. It all started with a ‘clean food’ eating regimen that we decided to try to see how our bodies reacted to various foods as we added them one at a time back to our diets. One thing we all found was that gluten totally slows the digestion, at least in the massive quantities that we were consuming. And most of the gluten free breads out there are grainy, dry and totally un-palatable. Until I found this one. Here’s a link to the original recipe (thanks to the Gluten-Free Goddess®) and here’s how I made it….super simple. I used a stand mixer and flat beater.

Proof the yeast (that means put the ingredients listed in a small bowl and let them sit until frothy, maybe 5 minutes)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup (generous) warm water, about 115 degrees (hot from the tap)
  • drop of honey or pinch of sugar
Blend the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl (put them in your mixer and turn it on the lowest speed)
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons sea salt
Add the wet ingredients to the aforementioned mixing bowl leaving the speed on low
  • proofed yeast
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Continue to mix for a few minutes (I didn’t time, but I’d say maybe 3 or 4 minutes). Turn it out into a pyrex bread pan, oiled, smooth it flat with wet fingers, sprinkle on seeds of your choice (I used sesame and fennel), cover loosely with plastic wrap and set it somewhere warm for about 20 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook for 30-40 minutes. It will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom once out of the pan. If your bread sticks (like mine did), you’ll have to gently push the sides in with a dull knife. (I’m going to try an oiled cast iron bread pan next time.) If it isn’t quite done at first check, put it back in the oven without the pan, drop the temp to about 350, and keep an eye on it. It should be done in a matter of a couple of minutes. Don’t eat it all in one sitting, but do have the butter at the ready. Jam too if you’re in to that.
*update 1/22/15: I’ve now been making this bread for a few months and we still love it. If you’d like, you can replace the buckwheat flour with millet flour for a lighter colored loaf. Also, to avoid the sticking issue, line your pan with a long strip of parchment paper cut the width of the pan. Allow the parchment to extend well beyond the sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the loaf out when done cooking. Let it cool slightly then slice and eat. Yummy with compound butters (my current favorite is brown sugar and toasted pecan).
 

When you’ve had your fill of bread, check out these art shows in SF. There is no better way to spend a cold and rainy fall day.

Keith Haring at the de Young Museum, opens November 8

one of the world’s favorite populist activists

keith haring

Alien She at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, opened October 24

examines the empowerment of this generation’s women and the impact of Riot Grrrl

riot grrrl

Houghton Hall, Portrait of an English Country House at Legion of Honor, opened October 18

go ahead, get your Downton Abbey on

houghton hall

J. Otto Seibold and Mr. Lunch at the Contemporary Jewish Museum opening November 20

one of our very own famous Bay Area artists

seibold

Roads of Arabia, at the Asian Art Museum opened October 24

Art, Ebola, Landscape, Fog, Music, you name it at the Exploratorium every day and Thursday eve

if you haven’t visited the new location at Pier 15, it’s time

exploratorium

Skulls, at the Academy of Science until November 30

and earthquakes and insects and penguins and fish

acad of scienceEnjoy your indoor escapades and make that bread!

Keep in touch,
Leslie

food…waste not want not

 

farm

My friend Watson mentioned that October 16 is World Food Day and that the focus this year is on family farming and food waste reduction. So I did a little research. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, founded October 16, 1945, celebrates its founding every year with World Food Day and each year picks a particular theme. The theme for World Food Day 2014 is ‘Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth’. And The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 ‘International Year of Family Farming.‘ According to the FAO, ‘It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.’ 

FAO-Infographic-IYFF14-en

According to Oxfam, our planet produces enough food to feed every person. But much of that food goes to landfill as waste. So, what to do? Here are a few suggestions if you want to begin at home (because where else can you begin?) to reduce your own food waste. And no, eating your peas won’t save that child in (fill in the blank) from hunger, but if we don’t buy it and waste it here, the resources and investment to grow it might be used elsewhere. This awareness is the beginning of change.

  • Grow something: a tomato plant, herbs, an apple tree. Get to know where food comes from, eat what you grow, share with your neighbors. And come to understand what grows in your area. Buy most of your food when it is in season (hard to do with chocolate, coffee and coconut if you live in northern California, I know….you don’t need to go crazy). You will waste less if you limit your buying to what is seasonal.
  • Buy glass containers or save glass jars for storage. Not only does your food look more appetizing, but you can actually see it! If you store food in plastic it’s harder to keep track of.
  • Make smoothies. Most anything that grows can go in a smoothie.
  • Get a veggie and/or fruit box from a local CSA and plan your meals around the week’s delivery. It’s like getting a present every week complete with recipes. Here’s a link to my CSA. This will get you $10 off (and I get a credit as well….full disclosure). The CSA I’ve been buying from for years is called Farm Fresh to You and is run by the Barsotti brothers who learned farming from their mom, Kathleen Barsotti, who, along with her husband Martin Barnes, bought land in 1976 when they were still grad students at UC Davis. They learned to farm, raised a farming family and now their boys are raising their families in the same manner. Not only are they providing food, they are providing jobs and tending the land in a manner that will allow it to produce food for generations to come. If you decide to join a CSA, get to know them….go visit the farm, read their newsletter, be a vicarious farmer.
  • Check out this English website Love Food Hate Waste for ideas about how to avoid leftovers and what to do with them if you make too much. They even have an app (which I clearly haven’t tried yet…see the next paragraph).
  • We often have lots of food in our fridge from past meals. Since I can’t not make too much food (just deal with the double negative, ok?) one of my family’s favorite dinners is ‘leftover night.’ The easiest meal of the week is the one where I pull out all of the leftovers and everyone chooses what they’d like. This is the only time I’m willing to be my family’s short order cook.

On a larger scale, food waste from restaurants, congregations, farmer’s markets, etc. often ends up in landfill. Here in Marin County we’ve got an organization called Extra Food that picks up larger quantities of food and delivers these leftovers to organizations that feed people in need. They refer to themselves as a ‘food rescue service helping to end hunger and reduce waste in Marin’. Before you scoff, yes, there are plenty of people in need in Marin. Get involved if you want to pick up food, call them if you have food to donate.

Enjoy your version of World Food Day…eat well and consciously and share your bounty.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

my good friend Watson

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Chef Watson and I are becoming quite the buddies. We’ve been chatting and have come to an understanding that we speak different languages but manage to communicate in a rather visceral manner where food is concerned. I still don’t know what s/he means by ‘spray pan with nonstick chili pepper’, but we are learning to get along. It reminds me of the time my sis visited me while I was studying in Eastern Canada. She met a lovely man and they were quite smitten but neither could speak the other’s language. They figured it out.

When I returned from the East Coast a couple of weeks ago I was met with my two volunteer cherry tomato plants bursting (literally, the little buggers were splitting) with tomatoes. We’ve now had cherry tomatoes on and in everything so I gave Watson a crack at cherry tomatoes and a beautiful cauliflower that I picked up at the shop. S/he came back with a pretty interesting mix of spices to complement the veggies…things I never would have thought of myself. And it was delicious. But if you look closely you will see the kind of, um, peculiarities s/he displays. The recipe is called roasted cauliflower, but the only vegetable ingredient listed is tomatoes. I understand my friend Watson so have made adjustments.

Watson’s Recipe

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My Modifications

 

barbecue roasted tomatoes and cauliflower

The results

It was truly absolutely delicious. The changes I made to the original recipe (aside from adding the cauliflower) were minimal. I doubled the recipe as I had way more veggies than were called for and I used olive oil instead of butter as we aren’t eating butter at my house right now. Other than that, the spice combination was what made this remarkably interesting. Chef Watson still has quite a few bugs to work out, but we’re having fun together. And doesn’t that cauliflower look amazing?

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Happy cooking,
Leslie

dining with dead presidents

 

photo courtesy weekendblitz.com

photo courtesy weekendblitz.com

Washington DC has a new restaurant group in town that really likes presidents, at least the dead ones.  Alan Popovsky, who did his share of restauranting prior to Lincoln, opened Lincoln in 2011 and followed it with Teddy and the Bully Bar. Rumor is he’s reviving another dead president as restaurant…maybe JFK or Thomas Jefferson, although I can’t find anything in the restaurant rags since Teddy and the Bully Bar opened. Maybe two presidents are enough to keep him busy.

We visited Lincoln while in DC this summer and while the food didn’t knock my socks off, the artisitic design was a party for my eyes.  The artist Maggie O’Neill pulled it off with some pretty creative concepting that keeps the place fun and light….no deep thinking required. There are pennies on the floor, pennies tufting the big chair that mimics the chair at the Lincoln Memorial, pennies on the wall in the shape of the DC flag, glass jars hanging from the ceiling (the story goes that union soldiers ate from glass jars during the Civil War), the Emancipation Proclamation emblazoned on one wall backlit by color changing LEDs (that thankfully don’t rotate). a textured Jasper Johns’ flag on one wall, paintings of Lincoln. And the servers wear t-shirts with Lincoln quotations. Our server was wearing a most apropros quote: Avoid popularity if you would have peace.

And I want to give not just a nod but a deep bow to Lincoln’s restrooms….they are awesome. Deliberate and detailed and definitely in keeping with the design of the restaurant. Both Abe’s room and Mary’s room are covered in custom murals. Mary’s lean toward the pretty socialite, Abe’s toward men and their tools. Use your imagination. The bar program makes use of house infused liquors, so there is a ‘library/infusing room’ for just this purpose. Quotations a la Abe himself are reminders down the mirrored back hallway. There is not a breath of this place that hasn’t been thought through from an aesthetic and artistic perspective. Hopefully the operation was given as much attention as the artistry….from the customer perspective, definitely fun.

Keep in touch,
Leslie

Lincoln
1110 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC
202/386-9200

food courts are so last century

 

 

 

mercato centrale

photo courtesy mercatocentrale.it

Once upon a time in Europe there were food halls. Well actually there are still food halls. Like the amazing Mercato Centrale in Florence where everything from fish to flowers is for sale along with prepared foods from lovely little cafes and market stalls. During my first trip to Florence, as a child of the 70s and American food courts, I thought I’d entered nirvana. The beauty and aroma of real food, not fried everything sitting in a water bath under an electric sign, was breathtaking. Mercato Centrale has changed since my first visit…what hasn’t changed is the focus on quality food. Meanwhile back in the American 70s suburbs were sprawling all over the place and town centers were either disappearing or never existed. So the shopping mall developers decided they’d move food into their now enclosed shopping malls and kill several birds, literally, with one stone. I’m just guessing, and I could be wrong, that shopping mall developers care more about their bottom line than whether their vendors are selling local organic produce, so what we got was cheap fast food around a sea of plastic tables.

Here we are several decades later, and we seem to have finally caught on. Food courts are so last century. Food halls are what people want…places where food is center stage. Have you noticed? Food courts are dying people so stop building them! Give us a variety of quality foods, some meat to take home for dinner, a cafe or restaurant to relax in, a nice glass of wine and we will spend that hard earned cash. Win win.

Union Market DC

Originally opened in 1871 Union Market has grown and changed dramatically. Today the market offers amazing food and food centric shopping, bbq outside, outdoor movies in the summer. The market hopes to be the center of an entirely revitalized neighborhood that has fallen on hard times. On vacation a couple of weeks ago we saw the building top sign from our hotel and walked over. After the sterility of most of tourist DC, the Union Market was a breath of fresh air, particularly the surrounding neighborhood which is still clearly working class. The market was absolutely packed both inside and out with couples, singles, families all enjoying amazing food and a bit of shopping as well.

Eataly

I’ve said it before, if you are in New York do yourself a favor and go to Eataly hungry. Several restaurants and cafes, even more take out, and more groceries than you can possibly fit in your fridge. All the shopping you need to do made better with a glass of wine in your hand! Four years old and still buzzing… definitely worth the ride down to Gramercy.

Chelsea Market

The behemoth market of all food markets must be the Chelsea Market in Manhattan. A block wide and a block long (and if you know New York you understand that one of those blocks is damn long), the 15 year old Chelsea Market has everything: cafes, restaurants from petite to super fab, coffee and tea, herbs and spices, libations, clothing, haircare, shoe shine. Seriously everything. The teen who lived at Walmart should have bought a bus ticket east.

San Pedro Square Market

Back on my own coast we have an up and comer down in San Jose, the San Pedro Square Market. On a street that was pretty scary back in my college days, the market has transformed the area to a hub of activity minus the police sirens. At the market you’ll find food, drink, a patio with music and summer evening movies, shops and a barber. Yup, a little swipe from Chelsea.

and back here in San Francisco

We are finally getting a food hall or two. According to Eater SF, the biggest will be located on Castro Street and should open next month. My only question is, what took so long? This is San Francisco people….we pay for food before we pay our utility bills!

Have a great week and keep in touch,
Leslie

a major ps here….yes, we do have (and have had for a very long time) our beloved ferry building. We can thank the Loma Prieta earthquake for getting SF to finally tear down a nasty freeway that separated us from our beautiful waterfront and gave birth to not only a visitor friendly ferry building but several new restaurants and walking paths along the waterfront. And yes, the ferry building is definitely a food hall. So I apologize to the ferry building for leaving it off of this list. It was, after all, a predecessor to all the rest. (And I was apparently asleep at the wheel…updated June 8, 2015)