Tuesday, July 28, 2009

good food and a sketch

I stopped at Café de la Presse on Grant and Bush, a lovely French café that makes a mean latte and croque madame. After La Boulange, Café de la Presse was a favourite sketching spot of mine in the city. It's a perfect place for a croissant and some people watching.

Lunch was tapas and sangria at Cha Cha Cha on Haight with my friend Metzalli, who is a talented artist and maker of bags. We had a seafood ceviche, fried plantains and chicken quesadilla. I am crazy about plantains, which are related to the banana, and have missed them ever since I left, so naturally we had to get a plate. Four hours later, we realised it was four hours later, and had to part ways.

A bit of SF street wisdom.

chop, mash, sauté

I cooked some lubya for Rachel yesterday— lubya is a Lebanese dish of green beans in a tomato sauce, super easy to make and really healthy. I miss cooking. I haven't done much of it in Istanbul, so it felt wonderful to chop, mash and sauté. Everyone in my family makes lubya slightly differently; I throw in some cilantro and keep the green beans crunchy— which could be sacrilegious to some, but it tastes really good.

olive oil
green beans
1 large onion, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 large garlic cloves
handful of chopped cilantro
1 can of tomato paste
2 pinches of cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Mash the garlic with some salt in a mortar and pestle if you've got one— I prefer to mash my garlic than slice it, as the flavour is more intense. Sauté the onions in olive oil, I'm going to say about 1/4 of a cup— you want a considerable amount. When the onions get soft, throw in the garlic and keep sautéing for about a minute, then add the cumin. Add the cilantro, then the tomatoes. Throw in the green beans once the tomatoes' water starts to get released. Stir for about 2 minutes then add the tomato paste and stir until the paste is well mixed with all the ingredients. Add water until you get a nice sauce that's on the thicker side, not too chunky, but you definitely don't want it thin and runny. I let the mixture cook for about fifteen minutes because I can't stand a limp vegetable, but my mom lets her lubya cook until the beans are soft and flexible. Add your salt and pepper to your liking and serve over rice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

gilded fog

The sun made an appearance today, which was truly grand— and here's where the layering thing pays off: I ran over to The Mission from the cold and foggy area where I'm staying to have brunch at Boogaloos on Valencia Street. The Mission district is always warmer than the rest of the city. Today it was scarf, sweater and jacket in Nopa, and t-shirt and skirt weather in the Mission. So you either peel or add layers according to where you go in the city.

I don't think a visit to San Francisco is complete without a visit to The Mission. There are lots of wonderful cafés and fun shops to check out, and I do recommend a breakfast or brunch at Boogaloos— if you're there on a weekend, try the Eggs Valencia, it's a California take on an eggs benedict. Avocados and grilled tomatoes. Sadly, they had just ran out of avocados (which I thought was impossible in California) so I went with my next favourite, Polenta and Eggs.

* * *

Later in the afternoon I met my friend A at Alembic on Haight, a dark and sultry little bar/restaurant with the most divine cocktails. Don't expect to get a cosmo or a mojito here, these vintage cocktails are far more complex and I kid you not, there are layers of flavour. Pictured above is the Gilded Lily, a delicate mix of Plymouth gin, Chartreuse, orange flower water, sparkling demi-sec and a brilliant touch of gold leaf that catches the light in an oh-so fabulous way. These cocktails are meant to be enjoyed.

The fog rolled in full-force when we parted ways, and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia. I used walk home down Haight in the evenings after my trapeze class at Circus Center, feeling I was walking through the belly of some beast. The fog is alive here, it snakes around corners and crawls up the sides of buildings.