09 July, 2010


The past couple of weekends have flown by! As usual I've been a busy girl. I've been to an opera, four county fairs (more on that soon), an artist's reception, a couple of fabulous dinners, thrown a big barbeque, visited some urban farms, tried durian ice cream, a ballgame, and a picnic. As usual most of this revolved around food.

Let's start with the urban farm dinner, thrown by the amazing folks at Outstanding in the Field. I took my dad with me (he's the original urban farmer), and we toured an amazing goat farm in the Oakland hills, Novella Carpenter's famous West Oakland farmstead, and wound up at Donkey & Goat Winery in Berkeley (I worked a block from there for years and had no idea the neighbors were making such good wine!) for a dinner that included produce, dairy, and meat gathered from 17 different urban producers. Everything was amazingly good, including the rabbit with grilled plums and greens and a ridiculously silky custard made with duck eggs and goat's milk (above). It was so awesome to see how much is happening almost literally in our backyards, and to take part in such a special meal amongst people who truly value sustainability and localization. Who knew that just a moment's drive away from my dad's apple orchard, there were goats and chickens?

My dad and I also went to see Puccini's Girl of the Golden West at the opera (with dinner at Bar Jules beforehand, of course), which was really fun. I hadn't been to an opera in a long time, and this one was light and humorous, especially for Puccini.

I also was lucky enough to go to Commis, Oakland's first Michelin-rated restaurant with my friend Louisa, and we thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Sadly the lighting was too low for photos, but I can tell you that everything was delicious. On my way home from the Napa County Fair last weekend, my friend Jessica and I stopped at Ad Hoc in Yountville for another memorable meal, which I also failed to document. All the courses were incredibly good, but I think my favorite thing was a wonderful Roccolo cheese paired with local honey and some of the best peaches I have ever eaten. Yum!

The artist's reception was for my friend Jane, who recently graduated from the science illustration program at CSUMB and is now moving to Yosemite for a three month internship at the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. Lucky for me, before she left we were able to have a farewell dinner at Camino (my one true love), as well as go to a Pyrospectacular baseball game and enjoy the fireworks, our tradition for the past seven summers. I don't know if it was the grand slam in the 4th inning and the final score of 15:1, or the phenomenal weather, or the extra spectacular fireworks display (they've definitely bought some new fireworks since last month's show), but it might have been the best baseball game I've ever been to.

On the Fourth, Erik and I had a few people over for a barbeque. We made our famous "chapati tacos" with lamb and shrimp, and amazing (if I do say so myself) grilled corn served with garam masala, ghee, and lime. We had a great group of friends come by and even got to light some sparklers before the fog rolled in. Above is a picture of the strawberry shortcake we made, with cardamom whipped cream. So good!

Let's see, what else? Oh! I also got to finally try the Islamic Chinese food at Old Mandarin in the Sunset district of San Francisco. I will definitely be going back- the cumin-rubbed lamb was divine! Afterwards we went to Pollyann Ice Cream for the durian ice cream, which unfortunately lived up to its reputation. I was hoping that in frozen form, without the nauseating smell of the fresh fruit, I might like the flavor, but sadly I have to report that in any form, durian is not for me.

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