Category Archives: Breakfast

my week in the bay, pt. 2

I failed to mention in my last post something that most of you probably know. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it: the Bay area is a foodie mecca. Not only is there delicious food around every corner, but Northern California seems to has its wits about them in terms of food justice awareness and action. Like everywhere, there are definitely improvements to be made, but other urban areas can learn a thing or two from the organizations that have established a presence in San Francisco and Berkeley.

One of these organizations is La Cocina, an incubator kitchen in the Mission District that offers subsidized commercial kitchen rentals and entrepreneurial education to individuals with the culinary skills but without the financial resources to build their own commercial kitchen, go to business school, or invest in a project without guaranteed success. I visited La Cocina during one of my days of SF exploring and got a tour of the vibrant kitchen happenings: chai tea concentrate was being bottled, salsa was bubbling away, and tamales were being formed and steamed at record pace. It was inspiring and made me very, very hungry.

Following my recovery from the sensory overload inevitable from a visit to La Cocina, I passed Mission Pie. I immediately entered, armed with hunger, a craving for eggs, and the good word from a friend. Breakfast was a slice of broccoli quiche and The Best Latte I’ve Ever Had. Pretty sure I still have a lingering crush on that barista based solely on how that latte made me feel.

With mental and physical fuel from my respective visits to La Cocina and Mission Pie, I walked over to Hayes Valley Farm to volunteer for a day and help ease some of my Mano Farm withdrawal. The only job they had for me was compost sifting, so I did that for enough hours to sufficiently dirty my hands and make connections with some international visitors to SF. (I have a place to stay in Montreal with an urban farmer! Holla!) Hayes Valley is closing soon, as their agreement with the city is nearing its conclusion and the former highway off-ramp is going to be the site of an assisted living facility (or something), so I was happy to be catch them before they closed. And afterwards, I went to a little French bistro with two women from Barcelona and had this delectable cauliflower tart and bean salad.

A little cured meat porn to cure your ails. Spotted at the Fatted Calf, an insanely upscale specialty food store and expert in cured pork products. I ordered four slices of two salamis for a grand total of $1.98, much to the chagrin of everyone involved in servicing this customer. Screw them. I ended up walking to Toronado, a beer bar specializing in sours, ordering a cheap beer, and hiding at one of the back tables to enjoy my pork and beer. Nutritionally void; emotionally fulfilling.

One of my last meals in San Francisco was brunch at Mama’s, a tourist trap in Little Italy. And tourist trap it deserves to be. Connor and I waited on line for an hour and a half, and discussed our plan of attack for 95% of that time. We wanted a little bit of everything, so we split our plates. One of us ordered  the French toast sampler plate, complete with banana bread French toast (a revelation), and the other ordered the standard egg-meat-potato-toast brunch  combination/hangover cure. Dee. Lish. Us.

Houses of pastel and fog seen from Alamo Square Park, where I was accosted by approximately five dogs, three hippies, and one shaman-in-training. The population of San Francisco is primarily made of up dogs, hippies, and shamans-in-training, so I wasn’t too surprised. My trip to the Bay left me yearning to return before I even left, not only because two of my best friends live there, but a one-week stint left so much of its cultural and culinary richness unexplored. I can’t wait to visit again.

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my week in the bay, pt. 1 (in pictures, over a month later)

When I left Mano Farm, I hopped up north for about a week and a half before returning to NJ and ultimately making the move to Maine. My week in San Francisco and Berkeley was delicious and invigorating, and I was finally able to sit down and share it with all of you.

My first meal in SF: a wild boar sausage from Rosamunde with an Anchor Steam to wash it down. Also, pickles. My decision to go for the boar was undoubtedly influenced by Michael Pollan’s recount of hunting one down in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Mano Farm zucchini, tomatoes and onions travelled up the coast with me to provide this nommy breakfast, coupled with a poached egg and some toast, all consumed in the very lovely, very French apartment of my friend Rachel who had visited me in Ojai a few weeks before my northward trek.

Tomato, manchego, red onion, parsley pizza at Arizmendi, a collective bakery where they churn out tons of scones and breads and muffins and cookies, and focaccia (oh my) but only one pizza variety per day. When I went to the bathroom, I saw a huge garbage pail labeled “Compost” filled to the brim with fennel fronds for tomorrow’s ‘za. Also spotted were countless 50 pound bags of wheat grown and milled in Northern California and a very attractive staff.

My hands still encrusted with Ojai soil, here I am sharing a brew with my friend Connor on his balcony in Berkeley. I don’t remember what this particular beer was, just that we had it with hummus and tortilla chips and called it dinner.

Dinner with Kristina and Rachel was a group effort: Kristina provided the tortellini while Rachel and I threw together the sauce and salad. Topped with some goat’s milk parmesan from a farmer’s market and chased with Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Wild, dinner was a success.

food habit

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Even a trip from California to Maine couldn’t end my habit of eating raw oats for breakfast. These are mixed with Carrie’s dad’s maple syrup, raisins, and coconut flakes from the food co-op near where I work where I will likely spend most of my money this year.

This morning, I am going on a farm visit and will continue getting acclimated to life at work and life in Maine. On another note, I woke up without an alarm for the second day in a row, so I am beginning to believe in miracles.

august

This August was the busiest month of my life. After closing out my time at Mano Farm, I traveled up the California coast–along the water and through (commercial agriculture) farm country–to San Francisco. I spent one full week in SF hanging out with a lovely smattering of folks and an even lovelier smattering of nibbles and libations. A short flight from San Francisco to Seattle left me in the Pacific Northwest for the first time, where I hung out with my friend Hannah and her family and a lot of really good sandwiches. I cannot wait to return.

The East Coast finally reeled me in, and I spent about two weeks ridding myself of a lot of unwanted belongings and organizing my thoughts and things for the long drive up to Maine. Luckily, Hurricane Irene left me and my father alone on the trip, save for a little rain and the news that a giant oak tree fell on my lawn in New Jersey. Apparently, my family is going to be without telephone, internet, or cable until October 1st, but that is only if they make it that long.

Nanette Cherichello's sittin' in a tree; it's so very B-I-G.

I had my first day of work today, and my first day of exploring on my own in the Pine Tree State. Naturally, I have a lot to report but since I want to do justice to the people, food and revelry of the past month, I will be rolling out entries over the course of this week that concern not-Maine. Trust me, the wait for Maine will be well worth it.

Oh, okay, fine!–one quick sneak peek:

That’s the Northeastern Special from the Southgate Restaurant in Bath, ME, where I am currently living with my friend Carrie and her fabulous family. Blueberries and Canadian bacon (from Canada? I have no idea…) put the “Northeastern” in this “Special,” but geography aside, this breakfast left me satisfied and absolutely stuffed for the majority of the day. Enough food for three meals, it was kind of an unruly choice for my first breakfast in Maine, setting quite the obesity-precedent and antithetical to the reason I am here in the first place (i.e., farming, nutrition, etc.). But the last time I was there, back in 2009, I vowed that as soon as I possibly could, I would bring my dad because it reminded me so much of diners back in Jerz. Except this one opens at 5 am to accommodate the employees of Bath Iron Works and closes at 2 pm because Bath lacks that certain je ne sais quoi of drunk Jersey guidos that power diner business back home.

Hopefully, all the goings-on of my August will help me be august (ba-dum-chh) in my new position in my new community in my new state. I can tell already that it is going to be one helluva year.

grains & fruit

The reason that this entry is titled “grains & fruit” is because those are the two food groups I have thought about the most today.

This morning, I had Chinese amaranth and zucchini for breakfast, with a smidge of sesame oil. I have never heard of amaranth before, but it cooked up essentially like a porridge and it worked well in a savory context. I’m sure it’d be just as tasty in the sweet context too. Maybe next time. Oh–forgot to mention that the amaranth was grown on the farm, in addition to the zucchini.

Quin and Justin don’t grow much grain on the farm. I think amaranth was their first venture, and buckwheat will be their second. I learned today that growing enough grain for a loaf of whole wheat bread would take up about six of the beds on Mano Farm. Instead of that, six beds yield more vegetables than I can count. Discussing the acreage required for a meaningful grain crop reminded me of the Appalachian Staple Foods Collective that I read about in Utne Magazine. They are essentially a group of farmers and concerned citizens who started growing their own amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, black turtle beans and heirloom corn out of Athens, Ohio. I scoured their website for a figure of their acreage, but needless to say, a collective of farmers from the four farms who belong to the Collective have more space than the 1.5 acre Mano.

Another thing–we were harvesting seeds today and Quin pointed out French sorrel that was growing in the same bed. I had sorrel and wood sorrel on the last farm where I WWOOFed, but French sorrel was new. Despite the newness, it had the same lemony flavor and all I wanted to do was munch at it. So for dinner, I harvested a bunch of the sorrel and tossed it with foraged peaches and an orange balsamic agave dressing (with orange juice from a foraged orange). Hella yum.

A few notes about farm life:

  1. My hamstrings have met their match.
  2. I love the smell of dirt, sunscreen, and sweat on my sun-soaked skin.
  3. Every hour here feels better than the last.
  4. There is a pair of hummingbirds whose flight path is directly under this canopy where we often sit. At first I thought they were giant bugs but no, just adorable little birds.
  5. I am covered with bug bites and barely have the nails to scratch at them, but I’m over it. I killed one mosquito today by catching it between two fingers.
  6. While digging up an overgrown bed of weeds, we unearthed about three dozen carrots from a crop that was thought to have been a complete failure. There is nothing quite like the feeling of pulling out a weed and finding a carrot. I quickly learned to differentiate carrot leaves from the rest of the weeds and be more careful around them.
  7. Snails are everywhere.
  8. My haircut is the best decision I have ever made.

*For some reason, all of the pictures I have been trying to post have been coming out significantly grainer than they should be. Instead of posting grainy pictures (no pun intended), I haven’t been posting them at all. I will try to make a Facebook album soon so any of my friends can get a sense of my life here.

brunch: pumpkin pancakes with ginger maple syrup

As a continuation of my manic obsession with taking home as little food as possible from school, I chose a can of pumpkin, the tail end of a box of crystallized ginger, and the last quarter of a bag of whole wheat flour as my victims for yesterday’s brunch. I woke up early (10:00 am…) and had a morning yoga session outside. My body hasn’t been physically challenged in a couple of months, so it was a little surprised with some of the stretches and strength exercises. I didn’t eat before it because I didn’t want a stomach full of food getting in the way of my warrior pose, but by the end, I was quickly approaching a ravenous state. Pancakes to the rescue.

Pumpkin Pancakes (adapted from this recipe)
Yields 15 4-inch pancakes

The batter of these pancakes ended up thicker than most other pancake batters I have encountered so they took a little bit longer to cook, but the end result was pillowy and fluffy. I think the secret ingredient is 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, which interacts with the baking powder and baking soda (and maybe the milk) in a magical way. I ate them with a smothering of apple butter, butter butter, chopped walnuts, and maple syrup that I had simmered with some chopped crystallized ginger. If you like ginger but not too much, you can boil the syrup with ginger and then strain it out. As I was eating these pancakes in all of their sweetness, I started thinking about how good the same pumpkin pancake recipe would be with garam masala, or even garlic powder, instead of pumpkin pie spice, no sugar, and twice the salt. It would be a really interesting, last-minute alternative to naan.

1 3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Slowly whisk into the pumpkin mixture until the two are just combined.

Heat a lightly buttered frying pan over medium high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan for each pancake. Brown on both sides, approximately 3-4 minutes, and serve hot.

I could go for one of these right now.

It is the Grilled  Reuben from Herschel’s at Reading Terminal Market. Considering the fact that my senior thesis will be handed in within the next 10 hours,  I am pretty sure I deserve the utter nom of this sandwich. So much meat and so much coleslaw and so much pickle-on-the-side.

My room mate are going to have a post-/during-all-nighter breakfast of eggs, pan-seared tomatoes, sundried tomato-basil sausage, and grilled rye bread. And with that fuel I will finish my thesis and start with the biggest party Haverford has all year: Haverfest, a two- (or three- or four-, depending on your situation) day festivus. This year, my “beverages” include root beer + ROOT granita (already made and looking/tasting tasty) and Southern Comfort mint lemonade.

Edit: 9:34 a.m. There is nothing quite like the smell and taste of saturated fats in the morning. Or anytime, for that matter.