Monday, May 9, 2011

Golden years

This weekend Jeff was housesitting for his boss in lovely green bright Mill Valley, and after staying up until 3 AM finishing a paper on Thursday night, and then until 10 PM finishing a Mahler symphony on Friday night, I decided that I needed a little vacation. So I set out on my bike on Saturday morning, braving wind, pigeons, and girl scouts, riding over the bay and down the hill and through the rerouting of the Bay Trail, finally ending up on Jeff's front porch around 1 PM.

...and this is what was waiting for me when I got there. A lovely salad, some fava beans and radishes on toast, and--most importantly, after I was nearly picked up by the gale-force winds blowing across Crissy Field and thrown against the rocky shores of the bay--a bottle of rose wine. Eventually we discovered that this house was just full of fantastic plates, plates that were so much more fantastic than those available at either of our houses that it would be a shame not to make a fancy dinner and take a ton of pictures. Okay, maybe that second part was mine entirely.

Shiitake mushrooms and fava beans on toast with some Mt. Tam cheese, replacing the $6 cheese that we left behind at the Marin Farmer's Market--the third largest in the state of California.

A vegetable soup with some carrots, asparagus, and snap peas in a fava bean stock--or, you know, if you want, you could say consommé, although that's kind of cheating because making fava bean stock consommé doesn't require clarifying, and I think you only get to use accented French terms if you go to lots of fussy extra steps. Also, Jeff doesn't understand why the asparagus should be facing the other way in this photo, but maybe there's a lot he doesn't understand about how my brain works.

Lamb with a minty sauce gribiche, fava beans, and potatoes in a garlic scape pesto. That thing over on the left is a garlic blossom and it is beautifully pungent. Jeff and I originally had this conception of making a leg of lamb but after determining that those cost $73, we decided to go for the breast, which is more of a budget cut--and, hey, dipped into egg salad, how bad can that be?

I'm getting to be a big fan of having salad after the meat course, not just because it is more French but also just because it makes more sense than filling up on lame-o lettuce while you're really hungry and then still needing some sort of a palate cleanser before dessert. This lettuce is tossed with some radishes in an asparagus vinaigrette.

Finally, I made this dish I'd been wanting to try for a while: a deconstructed strawberry shortcase, with a rosemary olive oil polenta cake, cardamom whipped cream, and strawberries macerated in red wine. As pretty as it might look like this, there's no point in serving it like this, because it's really best when eaten together. It's even better just eating the strawberries in red wine out of a bowl with a spoon. Or out of a glass with your mouth. Either way!


  1. I've never had olive oil cake. Is it sweet? Oily? Savory? Should I make some?

  2. This one is great. Barely sweet but herbal from the rosemary. The olive oil just replaces a little of the butter for flavor and makes it fantatstic.