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July 2007
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September 2007

Lazy Sangria

Yes, my theme this week is making yummy food stuffs when you are feeling far too lazy to do much of anything in the kitchen.

Over the weekend, I made sangria for a gathering of about 20 people. It was one of the tastiest, and easiest, varaiations on my usual sangria recipe.

1 bottle of Rosenblum Vintner's Cuvee zinfandel
24 oz of cherry cider (I would have preferred cherry apple cider but couldn't find any)
3/4 or so of a bag of Trader Joe's pre-sliced apples (about 3 fuji apples worth)
1 pint of strawberries
3 shots of white rum
2 shots of grand marnier
1 lime sliced into thin circles
1 teaspoon sugar
Lots of ice

Clean and quarter ripe strawberries, and place in a a large ziploc bag. Add shots of Grand Marnier and rum, plus sugar. Seal bag and refrigerate for 2 or more hours prior to making the sangria. Pour liquids into a large punch bowll. Add fruit and stir. Add a few handfulls of ice. Drink and enjoy your afternoon.


Eat Local Challenge in September

My work schedule, combined with our online game's raiding schedule, means it would be pretty hard for me to participate in a month-long "Eat Local" challenge. There's just no way to be sure everything my local Indian delivery place makes comes from locally sourced ingredients, and making dinner at 10 p.m. is not fun for anyone.)

But the September "Eat Local" challenge, which is being co-hosted by Locavores, bears that in mind and gives slackers like me more ways to get into the spirit -- even if we're a few days short on our locally eating. Other ways you can get involved include:

  • Blog about the easy and hard parts of eating locally -- either in your own blog or by sendng posts to their challenge blog
  • Support the challenge by adding the logo to your blog
  • Post photos of your local meals and farmers markets to their flickr group
  • Commit to making 1 all-loacl meal every week in September

Visit the Eat Local Challenge website for more details.


Roasted Goodness

This has been a busy week at work, leaving me exhausted when I get home...which doesn't lend itself to highly complicated cooking projects. But the lure of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is still there. My trip there yesterday sent me home with pork tenderloin, chorizo, more berries than we can eat in the next few days, apples, nectarines, baby potatoes, ACME bread, and my favorite dark purple/red dahlias.

Last night, despite the heat and being tired, I dipped into this cache and made a roasted pork tenderloin with roasted baby potatoes and apples, served with a Kenwood pinot noir. Takes about an hour including prep and baking, but most of that is oven time, making this an ideal dinner for a lazy night.

Heat oven to 450. Rub pork tenderloin with spicy mustard (I used a Sierra Nevada porter mustard), then coat with your favorite pork breading/seasoning/bread crumbs. Place in large glass baking dish, and bake for 20 minutes.

In the interim, wash and core your apple (I used a fuji), and cut into 8 wedges. Wash the pound of baby potatoes and pat dry. Atfer the 20 minutes of pork roasting has passed, remove pork from oven and reduce heat to 400. Place apples into the sides of the baking dish; sprinkle them with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. Add the baby potatoes whole, and drizzle olive oil over them. Salt and pepper the pork and the potatoes. Bake for another 30 minutes.

Remove pork from pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove potatoes, and place in a bowl. Add thin slices of butter and a large spoon of sour cream, then pepper. Toss the potatoes until covered with this mixture. Slice the tenderloin into 1 cm thick round slices. Plate with the apples partially covering the pork loin slices. Enjoy!


Visiting Monterey Bay

If you're trying to get out of the heat, a Summertime trip to Monterey Bay is a great idea. Unfortunately it is one shared with throngs of tourists. This leads to hotels booked months in advance throughout the Summer. So whatever you do -- don't arrive in Monterey without a reservation, unless you can afford the last available suite at one of the resorts.

My recent trip to Monterey involved a stay at the Hotel Pacific, billed as a AAA 4-diamond property within walking distance of Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Their website also promised "handcrafted tile bath features separate tub and shower, a second phone and a second television" and "French doors opening to a private balcony or patio."

Some of the above was a bit of a stretch of the truth. Although Fisherman's Wharf was nearby, the aquarium was only walking distance if you meant that you can pick up the free tram in front of the hotel to get there, or if you were accustomed to walking a few miles per day. Our bathroom had a shower with just a curtain -- no tub or even a raised area to keep the water from flooding the floor -- and a fold-down seat for the elderly or disabled. No TV, and not at all the luxurious or romantic accommodation we were expecting. The sink being in the main room -- not the bathroom -- was another odd choice. And that patio? Think an eye-level walled alleyway with only 1 lawn chair. All this at about the same price as staying at a truly luxurious room at the W in most cities. I'd also much rather be able to pay for room service than have to stand around, with children running to-and-fro, waiting for coffee urns to be refilled and the ransacked Continental Breakfast tables replenished. Live and learn. We won't be staying there again.

As a side note, how is it that a hotel that advertises itself as having conference and meeting facilities does not have a business center or even a computer that hotel guests can use? We forgot our pre-purchased Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets, and were directed to a Kinko's about a mile away. And that was after watching the desk person print another guest's airplane boarding passes. That's not the level of service I would expect from a self-proclaimed "luxury" property.

Once we had our pre-purchased tickets in hand, we parked in the hotel garage and took the free bus to the aquarium, avoiding the $20-$25 parking lot fees for the few available spaces. Having pre-purchased tickets also allowed us to avoid the line of several hundred people waiting to see if they would be able to buy tickets. As always, the facility's impressive aquariums, and their educational presentation on the deep sea research they are conducting with an affiliated non profit research arm, was well worth braving the crowds.

Next post will be on the glorious food, which was second only to the otters as a highlight of the trip.


Salon Wants You to Share Your Favorite Summer Cocktail Recipes

Summertime evenings often call for a tall cool adult beverage. I know I have a slew of favorites that have also made dinner guests exceptionally happy (and refreshed). So you can bet I'll be emailing Salon with one of my recipes. The deadline for submitting your favorite summertime cocktail recipe is, fittingly, "cocktail hour" on Friday, Aug. 10. Per the call for recipes:

"Submissions must be sent to skarnasiewicz@salon.com and should include both a recipe and an introductory paragraph describing the drink's origins or inspirations, suggested food pairings, and most important, how many is too many. All cocktails will be evaluated within the following four categories: gin, vodka, rum and other."

Chin-chin!


More food reads around the Web

  • NPR
    • Espressa granita with whipped cream has long been one of my favorite desserts at Zuni Café. NPR did a piece on making granita.
    • SPAM isn’t only a favorite of Monty Python fans. In this NPR story, Howard Yoon shares his love of the tinned meat product.

  • NY Times
    • NY Times article on the bad behavior exhibited in some of NY’s most upscale restaurants. Bad behavior of the drinking-too-much-and-stripping-off-clothes-to-swim-in-the-fountain-at-the-Four-Seasons type shenanigans.
    • If I got over my fear of frying, I’d love to make some of these individual fried pies.


    Recent Foodie Reads Around the Web... SF Chronicle/SF Gate edition

    • The SF Gate business section had an article that answered a reader’s query on how to get started selling their BBQ and dipping sauces. The answer included a treasure trove of great SF food lovers’ production resources, including a mention of La Cocina, a nonprofit commercial kitchen that offers free access and technical help to low-income entrepreneurs who are starting food businesses.
    • SF Gate also has a great article and recipe for Bakesale Betty’s picnic fried chicken. Mmmm. Too bad I am such a…chicken about frying in my poorly ventilated kitchen.
    • Does SF’s SOMA district need another wine tasting room? We already have Vino Venue, and the Diablo Grande winery room, and now, according to the Chronicle’s “Scoop”, we’re getting another one, called Press Club -- featuring wines from Chateau Montelena, Miner Family Vineyards, Hanna Winery, Pahlmeyer Wine, Saintsbury Vineyard and Mount Eden Vineyards. I almost never make it out to Hanna and Miner to taste despite loving their wines, so this makes me happy.
    • Two weeks ago, I went to Fog City Diner for dinner. The cab driver took us up past Enrico’s on the way there, causing me to do a double-take. I remember being bummed when Enrico’s closed a while back, yet the patio was overflowing with a chatting crowd. What was going on? Apparently, they’ve reopened, under new owners. Yeah for SF regaining an outdoor dining/cocktailing spot!
    • Last but not least—my neighborhood culinary treasure – Chapeau! – has received another glowing review, this time from the Chronicle’s food editor. I swear we’ll never be able to get in there again. Oh well – couldn’t happen to a better place.