Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meals for the First Week of March

Greens at the Ferry Building Farmers Market 2.20.10
This afternoon I started to think I might have bought too much at the market today (combined with what we're already growing) so I had to do a little planning to figure out how to use it all. We're trying to be better about planning ahead. It helps us eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, less meat, etc. We're not perfect by any means, but we're definitely improving! Here's what's on deck for this week:

Sunday Supper
Grilled Lemon Chicken (made with boneless skinless thighs under the broiler)
Cannellini beans with sage & garlic
Greens from the garden with mustard vinaigrette and parmesan
Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

Cauliflower "bisque" with roasted baby brussel sprouts
Bitter greens from the garden with blood orange vinaigrette, goat cheese, pine nuts and golden raisins

Out to the Movies (to see Up in the Air - as part of our quest to see all the best picture nominated movies before Thursday.)

Old School Turkey Tacos
with avocado, scallions, lettuce, cheese and hot sauce
Refried Beans

Tuscan Bean Soup with Bitter Greens (slow cooker recipe)
Curly Endive Salad with mustard vinaigrette, parmesan and croutons

Mexican takeout

Beef Curry with Toasted Spices
Jasmine Rice
Naan bread

Other meals -

plain greek yogurt with a drizzle of agave nectar and fuji apples
or with granola and blackberries

Ezekiel toast with a soft boiled egg

Ezekiel toast spread with ricotta cheese and drizzled with honey

Fuji apple with almond butter

Frozen banana and berry smoothie

turkey sandwich on ezekiel with home grown greens and mustard

leftover soup

tuna and cannellini bean salad on greens

Rancho Gordo popcorn

Dark Chocolate Zone Bars

Fuji apples with almond butter

Hummus with baby carrots

photo from the Ferry Building Farmers' Market, San Francisco - taken 2.20.10

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Heath Ceramics Factory and Store - Sausalito

Heath Ceramics in Sausalito
Earlier in the day - before Chez Panisse, we made another pilgrimage of sorts - to the Heath Ceramics factory and store in Sausalito, another place that had been on my list for quite some time.  Fittingly, Heath makes the dinnerware used at Chez Panisse (they have a custom line) and their plates are also used as bread and butter plates at Hog Island Oyster Co. - my favorite first stop a trip to the City. There's nothing like that first bottle of champagne and some Acme epi bread, torn and smeared with butter, to start a vacation. That is to say nothing of the impeccable oysters and the pickled mignonette - but we're not here to talk about that now, are we?
The Heath Ceramics Factory in Sausalito
No, we're here to talk about pottery. Lots and lots of pottery. The factory sits in an industrial area, by the Sausalito wharf, right around the corner from the Mollie Stone's grocery store that was in Albert Brooks' movie "Mother." It's been there since 1959 - and all of their pottery is still made right there in the studio - from start to finish.
Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
The factory store sells mostly what they call factory seconds. In fact, of the entire store - ONLY the goods you see on the table above are "first quality" - all the rest - on the shelves and other tables, are seconds. Most of the seconds are indistinguishable from first quality goods - at least to my eye, and I guess they should at least be pretty close, since they're only 20% less than the first quality prices.
Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
All of those things below? The casseroles, dishes, plates, mugs? All seconds.
Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
 Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
The section above is stocked with overruns, samples and factory 3rds - items with obvious flaws and cracks. The glasses you see there are all made from recycled wine bottles.
Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
They also have a nice section of books and gifts made by craftspersons and artisans - and an enormous selection of Weck jars (which can be ordered online.)
Weck Jars at the Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
Heath is also known for their tile - perhaps even more so than for their homegoods. The tile section of the store is in the back, with samples and design boards on one side, and all the colors and sizes stacked on opposite wall. There are so many beautiful, saturated colors, with different glazes, sizes and shapes - I can see how it would be a little overwhelming to choose.
Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
If you're interested in the tile, it's well worth a trip to the factory to check out what they have on hand in the overstock tile room. This area in the back of the factory is stacked with boxes upon boxes of tiles - most of which are perfectly usable, at a 20% (or greater) discount.
Overstock Tile Room at the Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
If I had any reason at all to do so, I would have snapped up some of these in a heartbeat. They can ship them home for you too.

Overstock Tile at the Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito

On the way to and from the overstock tile room, you walk past the kilns, and you can actually feel the heat coming off of them.
Kilns at the Heath Ceramics Factory
It was fun just to walk through and see the goods in progress. They give free factory tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 (but I'd call first, just to make sure) which would be very interesting, I'm sure.
Heath Ceramics Factory - Sausalito
This is a little peek at their stock room, where they keep the finished goods. The circular mosaic is made of their vintage tile. I just love the muted colors with the bright blue accents.
Heath Ceramics Factory Store - Sausalito
I managed to limit myself to eight small plates - four in robin's egg blue, and four in brown.  I can't wait to start in on the dinner plates too...

400 Gate Five Road
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-3732

They also have a Los Angeles Studio and Store
7525 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036-2722
(323) 965-0800

And a store in the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Pilgrimage to Chez Panisse - Berkeley

Blood Orange Upside Down Cake
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to eat at Chez Panisse. When I moved to the Bay Area, in October, 1995, I actually drove by the restaurant, just to check it out. I found a bakery nearby that I liked, and from then on, every once in a while, I would go over there to get cookies and goggle at the menu in the glass case out front. (The original Peet's location is also just around the corner on Vine.)
San Francisco 2.10
The downstairs restaurant was a little out of my reach at the time, and the Cafe didn't take reservations. I remember driving the 45 minutes or so at least once to try my luck for a table, but never made it. I did frequent Cafe Fanny though, for beignets, mochas and poached eggs on toast, and the downstairs Cafe at Oliveto was my favorite lunch spot. I'm not sure if I knew at the time that Paul Bertolli, the chef and owner of Oliveto was a Chez Panisse alum. Other Chez Panisse alumni have become successful in their own right. Jeremiah Tower had Stars for a time, and Judy Rogers has the Zuni Cafe - which is wildly successful to this day. Lindsay Shere - the longtime pastry chef and co-owner of the restaurant opened the Downtown Bakery and Creamery right on the square in Healdsburg.
Chez Panisse Cafe - view from our table
Chez Panisse has the feel of a magical place - it has the mythology, certainly, but there's something about the building itself and the aesthetic that has a fairy tale quality. It's welcoming, the lighting is just right, the noise level has just the right murmur. The service has just the right tone. Every detail - though not necessarily perfect - is just right. At least for me. I loved walking in, up the stairs past the dining room with it's wild flower arrangements, to the copper toned bar with the marble counter - then past the wooden bar laden with the evening's desserts, to a booth just opposite the kitchen. (We snagged a last minute reservation in the Cafe - no luck on the dining room.)
San Francisco 2.10
When we were seated, we were immediately presented with a plate of Acme bread, some amazing butter and a carafe of eau de Chez Panisse. The restaurant has repudiated bottled water, and serves filtered tap water in elegant, etched carafes.
Chez Panisse Cafe
The menu changes daily, and on this particular evening there happened to be so many good choices we had trouble deciding among them. While sharing a bottle of "Vigne di Alice" Prosecco, we elected to try two starters, the fresh mozzarella with tapenade, asparagus salad and prosciutto, and a toast topped with cardoon, kale, egg and anchovies.
Burrata with Tapenade, Asparagus Salad and Prosciutto
You already know that everything at Chez Panisse is perfectly fresh and responsibly raised, but that isn't always a guarantee of delightful flavor. A little originality and composition is always appreciated when it works well, and in these dishes it worked perfectly.
Pork Milanese with Celery Root Remoulade Salad and Little Potatoes
For main courses, both Tommy and James chose the Pork Milanesa with Celery Root Remoulade and Little Potatoes, while I picked the pizza of the day - spicy squid with tomato sauce and aioli. Yes, Aioli on a pizza. It may sound a little strange, but it was genius. The crust was light and crisp, the squid perfectly cooked with just the right amount of spice.
Squid Pizza with Aioli
The Pork Milanese was crisp and juicy, and combined with the celery root remoulade to create a perfectly balanced dish in terms of both flavor and texture. The celery root has a juicy almost apple-like texture, but isn't as sweet. A bit of mustard in the dressing, watercress, capers and a squeeze of lemon rounded out the dish.
Dark and White Chocolate Ice Cream with Housemade Chocolate Sauce
The dessert list was tempting but deceptively simple. Both of the options we chose provided more satisfaction than I expected based on their descriptions. Tommy chose the white and dark chocolate ice creams with chocolate sauce, and I had the blood orange upside down cake with cardamom cream. James opted for a cheese plate - which offered three small servings he very much enjoyed.
Blood Orange Upside Down Cake with Cardamom Cream
The ice cream was silken and smooth, like frozen chocolate mousse, and the cake was buttery and dense - topped with a layer of caramelized blood oranges. It's something I've never thought about trying at home, but I'm pretty sure it could be done. The cardamom spiked whipped cream alongside was lovely, and it was all fabulous with the little pot of their own Blue Bottle coffee that I had ordered.

I can see how one might become frustrated with Alice Waters and her idealistic philosophies, decide the restaurant couldn't possibly live up to the hype, or simply look for a way to find fault to be contrarian, but there was no temptation to do any of that, at least for me. The restaurant has lofty ideals, but it's the tradition of excellence, simplicity and attention to detail that has kept them in business for nearly 40 years. It's both inspiring and encouraging to see that tradition being carried on - not just by David Tanis and his crew - but by all of the restauranteurs, chefs and eaters who have been informed and influenced over the years by Alice and her little house on Shattuck Avenue.

1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709

The Cafe is open 7 days a week, lunch and dinner. Prices range from $10-$30
The downstairs restaurant is open 7 days a week, dinner only - prix fixe. $60. on Mondays, $75 most other nights, $95 Fri and Sat.
Reservations are recommended and are taken one month to the day before dining.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Current Obsessions (+ 10)

1. Handmade sandals.
2. Cauliflower.
3. Latte art.
4. T strap and platform shoes.
5. Camera Bag and Hipstamatic (vintage photo apps for the iPhone.)
6. Hiking.
7. Vietnamese breakfast.
8. Waiting for daylight savings time to start.
9. The Heath Ceramics factory store.
10. Mastering pie crust.
11. Paper art - paper cuts, printmaking, woodcuts, letterpress, etc.
12. Having a farm (or at least more animals) someday.
13. Making cheese.
14. Pizza ovens.
15. Kale.
16. Rancho Gordo beans.
17. Humphry Slocombe ice cream (follow them on Twitter!)
18. Big necklaces.
19. Spending more time at the beach this Spring.
20. Hog Island Oysters at the Ferry Building in SF.
21. Learning to sew.
22. Modern classical music (e.g. Build)
23. The new Harvey Faircloth and Kate Spade clothing lines.
24. Salt.
25. Popcorn popped on the stove.
26. Chez Panisse.
27. Naples style pizza.
28. Flooking.
29. Pleated skirts.
30. The Olympics.

(photo of oysters being shucked at Hog Island via Hipstamatic)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Rest of LA - Villa Delle Stelle and Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles

Villa Delle Stelle - Hollywood

On our last trip to L.A., we discovered the perfect Hollywood hideaway. Villa Delle Stelle - a five unit rental property/inn between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset, just off Gower. It's one block from the Sunset Gower studio, two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard, and perhaps best of all, spitting distance from the Hollywood Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. So close that the aroma of frying chicken will fill your nostrils day and night.
The Art Deco Suite at Villa Delle Stelle

This is the Art Deco suite - one of the four rooms in the house.  There are six other accommodations with various "themes". In the Art Deco suite, the decor is modern but the original vintage charm is still intact. There are two bedrooms and one and a half baths (one shower, two toilets) and a party-ready kitchen, complete with a drawer dishwasher tall enough to hold champagne flutes.
Villa Delle Stelle - Hollywood

On the last trip, we all crashed in this apartment at the end of the night - this time though, our friends also rented the one next door - connected through the back staircase. Theirs was the "Parisian" - decorated with a French Provincial theme. Downstairs is the English Suite, featuring Dudley Moore's Disklavier piano (the place is owned by one of his ex-wives, presumably the most recent one).
Villa Delle Stelle - Hollywood

The Art Deco suite is probably the best apartment is arranged in a line along the upper West side of the building - so it has a view of Sunset and the Hollywood sign, and gets a lot of great natural light. It costs about $350 for one night, including tax - but the price goes down the longer you stay. All of the units can also be rented out long term.
Villa Delle Stelle - Hollywood

I actually found this place because of the great location before our last trip in June. We were going to see a friend's band play on Hollywood Blvd. and I wanted to find a place to stay within walking distance - so I went on Google Maps, and searched the location for nearby hotels. This was not only the closest place, it was by far the nicest (the area around there is still a little sketchy - especially after dark.)
Sunset over Sunset

Another benefit of having and apartment rather than a hotel - you can paar-taay. And we did. Actually, they did. I went to bed at midnight. I had to rest up for fried chicken the next day.
Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, Hollywood

There was a wait outside this place day and night the entire time we were there, so we were kind of surprised when we were able to waltz in at 9:30 on Sunday morning and found the place nearly empty. Everyone must have been at church or sleeping in.
Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, Hollywood

I had the "Carol C. Special" one breast with waffle combo. My waffle was ok, but if we had one complaint it was that some of the waffles were a little limp. The chicken was fabulous with juicy meat and crisp skin and nice savory flavor. A little hot sauce, a little syrup.. oh yeah... I didn't need the butter - but it just wouldn't look right without it I guess.
Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, Hollywood
This was the heap of fried chicken our friends ordered to share. I found it curious that they placed the chicken on the plates skin side down. Must be a reason for that, but I don't know what. It slides less on the plate? It sends the juices flowing downwards?
Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, Hollywood

Chicken and waffles may sound like an odd combo, but if you like your chicken with biscuits and honey, you're already halfway there. The legend goes that it started in the African American community when familes returned from church, and some people wanted breakfast, and some wanted lunch. If you're not a fan of waffles or just can't do chicken for breakfast, they have all sorts of combinations of each served together and separately.  If you really have a death wish, you can also order just about anything on the menu "smothered" -  which means covered with gravy and onions.

Villa Delle Stelle
6087 Harold Way
Los Angeles, CA 90028-6403
(323) 876-8100

Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles
1514 North Gower Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028-6422
(323) 962-0276

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm in luurve... with Harvey Faircloth

Harvey Faircloth inspiration

Harvey Faircloth Fall
harvey faircloth sailor top
harvey faircloth batwing dress
harvey faircloth long palazzo dress
harvey faircloth blouson top
I am head over heels for this new line of clothing - designed and styled by former Blueprint/Martha Stewart style editor Katie Hatch and former Kate Spade art director Abby Clawson Low. At top is their inspiration board for Spring/Summer, then the Fall line - now available online (though pickings are a bit sparse at this late date) - and the remaining looks are new for Spring and Summer. Prices are reasonable, the fabrics are lovely, and isn't it just so refreshing to see something original for a change? Also, I'm immediately embarking on a search for the right shade of red lipstick to wear with little or no other makeup, after seeing the look on their model here!

A little bonus - when she was at Blueprint, Katie designed this adorable no sew wrap skirt. Follow the link for a video of her making the skirt on Martha's show. I remember seeing it on the cover of the magazine, and I am still dying to try it.

Stay tuned: More food posts are coming up - including more from LA, Japanese food in San Diego, and another trip to San Francisco later this week!

hat tip to Rachel of Black Eiffel for the inspiration!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pizzeria Mozza - Los Angeles

Pizzeria Mozza - LA
We all know Mario Batali doesn't like food bloggers, but I was still surprised when a hostess leaned over our table at Pizzeria Mozza in LA this past Saturday (as I photographed the place setting in front of me) and said, "I'm sorry, we don't allow photos of the interior of the restaurant or the food." When I expressed disbelief, she continued: "To prevent unauthorized blogging."
Pizzeria Mozza - LA
I didn't fuss. I didn't want to embarrass my dining companions, and I didn't really care, since I'd already taken several photos on a previous visit - but I did think it was pretty ballsy of them to tell me I couldn't photograph food I was about to pay for the privilege of eating.
Eating at the Pizza Bar - Pizzeria Mozza in LA
You may have heard - Pizzeria Mozza is popular. It was mobbed from the moment it opened, and three years later it's still chaotically crowded. On my first visit in August of '08, we had a reservation for 1:30 pm, which they gave away when we were fifteen minutes late, even though we had called from the road. It worked out fine - maybe even for the best - since we snagged seats at the pizza bar. Two years later, we were lucky to get a 1:45 reservation, that I made by calling the same day cancellation/reservation line (the recording gives it to you when you call their main number.) When I tried earlier in the week, no dice. Even mid-afternoon, a small crowd was gathered in the doorway between the hostess stand and the bar, jockeying for position. It reminded me of the Cheesecake Factory, minus the giant plastic buzzers.
Pizzeria Mozza and playdate at Jora's
On that first visit with my friend Susan, we over-ordered like crazy and had a fabulous meal - starting with a cauliflower gratin, an avocado, tomato and bacon salad with bread crumbs, and two pizzas - one with clams, chilis and oregano, and the other topped with wads of fresh house-made sausage. Since we were at the pizza bar, we were able to choose based on what we saw (and smelled) coming out of the oven and what other people around us were eating - a big plus especially on a first visit. If you have a choice (and a small party) I highly recommend sitting there if you can swing it.
This time around, the food didn't seem to have quite the same zing. It was still enjoyable - especially the meatballs, which I managed to take a fuzzy cell phone shot of despite the hostess hovering right behind me. The crostini with white bean puree and saba also turned out to be a surprise highlight. The sausage pizza was curiously under-seasoned though. I remember that they sprinkled some kind of curry-like magic dust over it last time. That was missing. We also had the clam pizza again, now a "pizzette" for the same price due to the high cost of clams. It was good, but I missed the red pepper flakes they had liberally sprinkled over it before. The crust of their pizzas is still amazing though, chewy and flavorful with a beautiful sheen and crackling puffy edges. We also had a salad of romaine hearts, gorgonzola dressing and dates that was fine but nothing more, and another pizza - topped with rapini, fresh tomatoes and anchovies that was nice enough, and probably the healthiest dish of the bunch, but it made for some lousy leftovers cold, let me tell you.


Dessert brought us back to another high point. Last time we had the beautiful strawberry ice cream pie pictured in the collage above. This time we had to try the Butterscotch Budino, aka butterscotch pudding - possibly their most famous dish. It comes in a glass topped with caramel sauce and lightly sweetened whipped cream, with two little pine nut and rosemary cookies on the side. It was delicious (and the two boys I was with devoured it) but I was partial to the caramel copetta - a sundae of the creamiest, richest, salted caramel ice cream imaginable, topped with a caramel sauce, salted spanish peanuts, and marshmallow cream.

A little bird told me they're opening in Newport Beach on PCH later this year (no opening date is targeted, but I'd bet on Summer) and they've opened a "Scuola di Pizza" teaching cooking classes in their LA location.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101
the menu

Photo Credit: Since they wouldn't let me take my own photos the Butterscotch Budino photo is courtesy of Jess Lander.