Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Backyard Movies...

Sometimes in the summer, we do this:
Warm summer nights are the best!

Elm Street Potlucks...

It's so good to be surrounded by good friends, wholesome food, and warm summer weather.  It's the perfect setting for a potluck!
The most beautiful cake I've ever seen, made by Shannon.  You can find the recipe here

Bananna Nut Muffins!
Sneaking tastes before dinner!

Most Likely to Change the World...

If I had to vote for one person that I know for this prize, it would be my dear friend, Heather.  
Growing up, Heather always had the most prudent words of wisdom, and kindest heart. 
She was always the one to tell me about some program that was doing good in the world or exposing me to new documentaries like Invisible Children
Harvesting stinging nettles in Bonny Doon.  Heather showed us how to make Nettle Pesto, Nettle Tea, Nettle Omlets, etc.  Yum!
The summer Heather spent a year in Uganda, Africa, helping women reconstruct their livelihoods with a program called Light Gives Heat was hugely inspiring. 
Wild Oats tea, one of the native plants Heather taught us to forage.
In addition to being a world samaritan, Heather is a strong anchor for me here at home in Santa Cruz.  We often have dinner at her cabin in Bonny Doon, and she's taught Ryan and I a thing or two about the great outdoors, like which plants to eat and how to give yourself a leaf tattoo.
I'm excited to see where her next adventure leads her.  Where ever she is, she'll be doing good for the world around her.
A leaf tattoo in Bonny Doon.

Neighbor Night...

My neighborhood has everything I could ask for: a grocer, a butcher, a baker, a cafe, a winery, 
and a brewery!

Inside the Mountain Brewery.
Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery is the perfect midweek treat.  They have a small selection of organic, craft beers with names like, Wilder Wheat (named for Wilder Ranch up highway 1), seasonal Olallieberry Cream Ale (I think olallieberries are unique to Santa Cruz), and Horse Tail Ale (for the old carousel on the boardwalk). 
Playing bananagrams and drinking Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery IPA.
Inside is cozy and warmly lit. A sculptural copper tree with pint glass leaves grows out of the back wall, and there's a stack of board games in the corner.  Outside on the patio, you and your dog can sit under heating lamps and watch the sunset.  
Having an intimate"spot" makes me feel more at home in my neighborhood!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer Picnics...

For graduation, Ryan's mom gave him a set of Mast Brothers Chocolate Bars.  These Brooklyn based bean-to-bar chocolate makers are high on my list of culinary idols.  They bring their cocoa beans to from Madagascar to New York on sail boats, and create high quality craft chocolate that is hand wrapped in thick butcher style paper, printed with old maps, blueprints, wallpaper or sketches.  They are quite lovely to look at and it seems almost a shame to eat them.

We needed a special occasion to a Mast Brothers chocolate, so Ryan and I decided to have a special picnic to open the first bar.  We packed up a basket with homemade tarts filled with gorgonzola and topped with peaches, onions and thyme, we made salad and homemade vinaigrette, and had simple sandwiches on baguettes with El Salchichero's smoked chicken, homemade grain mustard and a mild cheese.  Then we added a bottle of wine, two mason jars, and finally, the Almond and Sea Salt chocolate bar to our basket.

Peach, Onion and Gorgonzola Tarts, and Mast Brother's Chocolate.
A sandwich de rue, with smoked chicken from our local butcher.
Off highway 1, looking over the ocean.

I don't know what was better- our homemade picnic basket or our scenic picnic spot.  We ate on a bluff overlooking the bay as the sun set out over the Pacific.  We found the perfect ingredients for the best picnic I've ever had.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blueberry Boy Bait...

It was Girl's Night at Cheyenne's house, so I baked an appropriately named dessert:
Blueberry Boy Bait!

The recipe came from one of my favorite food sources on the internet, Smitten Kitchen.  Though I'm not a big coffee cake fanatic, it went over really well at the potluck.  If you want to try it, head on over to the site, and take a look at all the other wonderful pictures and posts!  Deb, the chef, photographer and designer of this lovely blog has made every recipe simple and accessible with easy to follow instructions and thoughtful anecdotes.  You need not be a baking wizard to enjoy her site!

My Favorite Sandwich...

The best sandwich in Santa Cruz is at the River Street Cafe.  Though they are well stocked with delicious treats like lavender butter cookies, warm seasonal fruit crisps, and saturday sticky buns, the service isn't always the friendliest.
If you can ignore being ignored, try the Roasted Pastrami Sandwich.
I got too excited and started munching
before I could take a picture!

Its full of roasted pastrami, Farm House Cultures classic caraway kraut, dijon mustard and pickles.  
It is de-licious!

Sugared Violets...

Have you ever sugared violets?
It's super easy, all you need is egg whites, superfine sugar, and edible flowers.
Ryan and I spent an afternoon painting egg whites onto purple and yellow violets and a rainbow of rose petals.  
If you sugar your own flowers, you can store them in glass tupperware between sheets of parchment paper for up to two weeks.

My Best Friend...

This is Shannon.  
She is one of the most amazing people that I know.  She is beautiful, wise, and talented.  Sometimes she leaves messes on the floor, but I love her anyway.
Quite a lot.

Barber Shop Quartet...

I never would have found this place on my own.  
Shannon recently told be about Johnny's, the brand new barber shop in Santa Cruz.
Though it's new, this barber shop hails from another era.  Johnny and his friends decorated the interior with old wood paneling, antique chairs, zinc washing stations, and moose antlers above the door to 
'The John'.

Johnny only cuts beards and moustaches, and men's hair.

Lucky for me, I meet one requirement:
 I have men's hair!
Getting 'buzzed' at Johnny's.
I strode into Johnny's looking quite dapper- a fresh bow tie,  and my new oxford saddle shoes.

In the barber chair I quizzed Johnny about the history of barber shops, various short hair styles, and the resurgence of artisanal practices, not only in food, but everything from cobbling and clothing to hair!
snip, snip, snip!
It took me a day to feel comfortable in my new do'.  
There was something about going to the barber that seemed to question my femininity.  

But I came round, and I'd go again.  
A 17 dollar hair cut, and a chance to get dolled up was well worth it!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


In June, I began eating meat. 
Though Ryan would like to attribute the massive life change (10+years as a vegetarian!) to himself, I'm more inclined think it's due to the influence of Anthony Bourdain and his contempt for v-egg-annes.  

 Predominately however, I began eating meat as a response to the quality and craft of artisan foods that has become quite celebrated on the West Coast.  

My first bite as an omnivorous being was at Bar Tartine, where I ate a smoked blood sausage.  
Diving right in, I suppose!

It was absolutely delicious- salty, smokey, chewy, and, I suppose "meaty".  I've been occupied with eating the very best and most unusual meats ever since.  

Down the street from my summer home in Santa Cruz is the beautiful, smokey scented, community butcher shop.
El Salchichero is manned by the most manly of butchers.  Big boys with giant mutton chops, ruddy pink cheeks, tattoos up their arms and onto their ears, and the perfunctory bloody aprons and cleavers.  
I'm in love with all of them, they're so befitting of their jobs.
they make some darn good meat.

My favorites from El Salchichero include:
smoked chicken
smoked peach and basil sausages
perro calientes
blood sausages
and more

I can't wait to have a neighborhood boucher in France!

Something Sweet...

This is it! The place where it all began.
I walked into the Penny Ice Creamery one year ago, and was greeted with nine beautiful trays of lightly colored ice cream, spotted here and there with bright, fresh berries and flecked with unusual spices.  
The Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz is the premier ice cream parlor for unique and delicious flavors.  It opened my mind and my palate to ingredients and pairings I had never heard of before, or had never though could be used in sweet treats! 
 The creativity and possibility that the Penny Ice Creamery presented has been one of the most life altering things I've experienced in my life since living at Shakespeare & Co in 2009. 
Seasonal offerings at the Penny.
I can almost recall the entire menu from my first time in, an impressive feat considering flavors at the Creamery change with the season and feature new flavors every week.

My first tastes:
Tahitian Vanilla Bean
Chocolate Sorbet
Strawberry Pink Peppercorn from dirty girl farms
Fig Leaf
Roasted Barley
Lemon Verbena from route 1
Pear Sorbet
Fresh Almond Cake, topped with Sweet Cream Ice Cream,
 Blackberry Coulis, and Honeycomb from my mom's bees!

The next day, I was behind the counter.
Daily production at the Penny- spinning, spinning, spinning!
And thus began a year of searching for new flavors, raising my standards for all things culinary, as well as the beginning of my career as Assistant Pastry Chef!
In the open kitchen with Chef Kendra Baker.

Though this may not be the path I'll walk forever, it's been hugely character building and a wonderful learning experience, not only in the roles in the kitchen, but also in my role as a diner. 

This is only the beginning, though.
I'm off to taste the world!

P.S. With the exception of the honeycomb sundae, these pictures aren't mine.  
I never think to take pictures at work (nor do I have time), 
so I snagged these from news stories around the web!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Once Upon A Time...

This is the way all good stories should begin.

My story began a long time ago, but my life, like all lives, has chapters. In 18 days, I am set to begin one of these new periods of my life.
On August 20th, I am flying off to France for the year.
I've been planning this trip for such a long while, yet, as my departure date draws nearer, I've become increasingly anxious.  Though life abroad is bound to be as full of adventures and surprises as any good story, I leave behind many things here that I've known, and grown to love.

Over the few weeks remaining until I leave, I'll be documenting the people, places, and things I will miss here at home, before chronicling my upcoming adventures across oceans.