Bounty by the Bay

I’m in San Francisco this week, attending a biotechnology conference, and more importantly, visiting good friends and enjoying the wonders of the City by the Bay.  It’s been a year since I’ve visited, and once again we took a trip to the Ferry Market on a cold, grey and windy San Francisco day.  It’s hard to feel too down about the weather, however, when I feast my eyes on the bounty available at the market: cherries, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, raspberries, oh my!  Fruits that we will not see at home for months are piled in the stalls and it was hard not to load up with pounds & pounds of everything.  Vegetables were not a disappointment either: fava beans, new onions and green garlic, purple asparagus, baby carrots and mixed baby potatoes made it in our bags, along with sorrel, cilantro and mixed fresh herbs. Local, organic roasted almonds and a couple of sourdough baguettes from Acme Bread were just icing on the cake.

And what did we do with all this bounty, you ask?  Good question. I’m staying with my friend Christina, who organized a dinner party last night for friends old & new.  I got to spend some time with my good friend Adam, who was best man at our wedding; I got to reconnect with my dear childhood friend Gayle, whom I haven’t seen in 20 years; and I got to meet some of Christina’s San Francisco friends from work, the neighborhood and beyond. Truly a lovely evening with lots of good conversation and laughs, lots (and lots) of delicious California wine, and (dare I say) some quite wonderful food.

Christina & I hit up the market early, in an attempt to beat the crowds, and then spent the rest of the day cooking.  We made my classic bruschetta, with Black Prince tomatoes and the first fresh basil I’ve had in many a month, and served it up with Acme sourdough crostini with Stonehouse olive oil and slivered sorrel.  I mixed fresh fava beans, fried in bacon grease, with bacon, toasted almonds and lemon for a crunchy, savory twist on bruschetta (recipe will follow!).  I roasted pork loin chops with a fresh cherry, merlot & blood orange reduction and served it with purple asparagus and baby carrots, simply roasted with olive oil and We Olive balsamic vinegar.  For dessert, I put together my twist on Heidi Swanson’s strawberry rhubarb crumble (my second in as many weeks), with what I’m guessing was The Last Rhubarb in California (given the ludicrous price), and once again failed to get a picture of the finished product. Christina whipped up some heavy cream with turbinado sugar for homemade whipped cream and Adam brought some truly outrageous ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery (the salted caramel is out of this world).

As if all of that weren’t enough, my friend Gayle and her husband Bob are musicians and folk singers who, despite playing a 5-hour gig at the Grand Lakes farmer’s market earlier in the day, treated us to some of their songs to round out the evening.  Gayle has always had a beautiful singing voice, and the years have only improved it, lending it a complexity and dimension that wouldn’t have been possible when we were in high school together. Bob’s harmonies and guitar playing made me, once again, envious of everyone with true musical talent, and the two of them perform so well together that we all sat entranced during the songs, and disappointed when Gayle & Bob finally had to pack up and make the long trek home. (If you’re in the Bay Area, I highly recommend that you check them out.)

All in all it was a fabulous evening, and despite feeling more than a little fuzzy from many glasses of wine and a 3 AM bedtime, I wish we could do it all again tonight.  Thanks to everyone who came and made it such a special time!

(p.s. Please forgive the lackluster pictures and the paucity of recent posts. Last week my laptop died [taking with it a number of photos that were destined for upcoming recipe posts, not to mention my sanity] and I was forced to buy an emergency substitute.  The emergency substitute, despite being brand spanking new, is apparently a lemon, and is going back to the store at the first opportunity.  Sometimes technology is not my friend. In addition, I’m traveling with my little point-and-shoot camera, and no Photoshop.  I cringe for the next week or so of blog photos….)

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