Category Archives: Travel

seattle, or sandwich city

Prior to my brief sojourn in August, my exposure to Seattle was two-fold: watching Grey’s Anatomy in high schooland hearing excellent things about it in college from native Seattleites.

I stayed with my friend Hannah and her family, which was great. It is pretty special to contextualize college friends in their home environment, especially when that environment involves adventures in cooking salmon whole.

Wassup, fish? You were one tasty finned creature.

Now, I know Seattle is known for its rain and its salmon and that giant thing that was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, but I came to know Seattle for its sandwiches. Hannah picked up at the airport and we went directly to get banh mi at Saigon Deli in the International District, conveniently on the way from the airport to Hannah’s house. Cilantro needs to appear in more sandwiches I make for myself. Maybe I’ll start a container garden for the winter.

We went to Pike Place Market, watched the guys throw the fish, tried some uncooked chocolate pasta (what?), and bought some Rainier cherries to have as the dessert course for the lunch we were both anticipating. A few hours earlier, we had been waiting on line at Salumi to order sandwiches. The employees make the wait a lot easier by bringing around plates of samples. Bless them. It’s only right, considering that the store is owned by Armandino Batali, father of Mario.

My sandwich had mozzarella, peppers, onions, and Agrumi salami, a variety cured with citrus and cardamom. Slathered together on some great chewy-crunchy-airy bread, it shot me right up to sandwich heaven. My favorite part of Salumi, besides the actual food, was this narrow walk-in refrigerator filled with salami. If I could live anywhere…

The final sandwich stop was Paseo’s, where I got the straight up Cuban roast sandwich for which they are apparently known. Very hard to eat, in a great way. Thick, succulent grilled onions. Well-seasoned and perfectly-textured pork. Really, how was I ever a vegetarian?

Seattle treated me well. The weather was ideal, the company great, the coffee unforgettable, and you know how I feel about the sandwiches. And Mount Rainier bid farewell to me on my way back East, for a breath-taking finale to my West Coast summer.

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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.

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.