Tag Archives: Bi-Rite Market

The Age of Arugula

It’s taken me a few weeks to realize this, but arugula has decisively replaced baby spinach as my green of choice. This shift in allegiance has benefits and drawbacks, as is only natural. Benefit: arugula is a springier green, frilly and tickly and with the sharp bite of pepper. Drawback: arugula does not have as much iron as spinach, and I need all the iron I can get.*

The takeover occurred slowly, as these things do; at breakfast yesterday, I noted with a start that it has been weeks — maybe a month? — since I’ve eaten another green.Still, I’m not concerned. I’ve got my jar of iron pills — dingy capsules that taste like dirt — and the full assortment of greens remains available, always. I actually love personal food trends (food gravitations) and what they might signify. I don’t believe, as some people do, that they hint at deficiencies that our bodies seek to correct; rather, I suspect they’re rooted in something murkier — a convergence of physical and psychological preferences, seasonal cues, social prompts, what have you. I’m not fully tempted to suss out the causes, not only because the causes might be unidentifiable, but because I’m content with this small, benign mystery.

I have a policy of heeding food gravitations. If arugula appeals to me, arugula it is! I know myself, and I know that I’ll eventually tire of the gravitation food.We’re still reaping the benefits of our V-day bounty: yesterday’s breakfast drew on a few leftover ingredients and a few freestanding ones. Clockwise from top: Josey’s wonder bread, buttered (and, post photo, slathered in Donna’s jam); bacon; and eggs with two cheeses and arugula.

The toast and bacon are self-explanatory. The eggs could stand for a tiny bit of elucidation, I think. Alex beat the eggs with salt, pepper, milk, and goat cheese and cooked them in the normal fashion — low & slow. When they were mostly set, he added some sheep’s milk cheese from Bi-Rite (name escapes me = ack! Where is my cheese journal when I need it?) and some washed arugula, letting the eggs cook until the cheese melted and the greens wilted.

I don’t have to tell you how this story ended. (Answer: with two clean plates.) Arugula and eggs are my new favorite pairing; the textural contrast between the two is pleasanter at breakfast than it would be later in the day, when my mouth has adjusted to the world’s input, and arugula’s peppery flavor is pretty damn hard to beat. Arugula: it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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*As I discovered several months ago, when my doc revealed that my iron levels are pretty low.

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Wine & Roses

Happy post-Valentines, friends! Did you wake up today with a sugar + oxytocin hangover? Have you hit up your local Walgreen’s to score some deals on discount candy? Are you glad you won’t see Sweethearts for another 11 months? Other thots about yesterday’s holiday?

Ours was a lovely, lovely V-day. Rather than battling the Marinafied crowds, we opted to prepare a picnicky dinner (eaten on the bed, natch). Bi-Rite was so crowded that we had to wait in line, as one would wait outside a club. (“I’m wearing jeans,” Alex quipped. “Do you think they’ll let us in?”) Made conversation with the woman in front of us, who lives in the same building as Robert Patterson.* “He’s just opened that new restaurant, and I can’t wait to try it out,” she said — a bit wistfully, I thought, or maybe with the tone of someone obligated to attend a niece’s piano recital. She promised she’d go soon.We waged an epic battle at Bi-Rite, dodging rampaging hippies just there to get farro, goddamnit, and canoodly couples practically making out in front of the olive display. (GET A ROOM! Next time, that is.) Forty-five minutes later, we were prepping dinner. On the menu: assorted cheeses and charcuterie; dates, which Alex pitted and sliced into wedges; olives; radishes, cleaned, halved, and served in a teacup; arugula, tossed with toasted breadcrumbs and the tangiest vinaigrette, sharpened with shallots and capers and grainy mustard; bread: a sweet baguette and a soft, flat loaf crusted in sesame seeds; German sparkling wine; and Boston Creme Pie, with the lightest filling and the most decadent chocolate shell. Membrillo, too, which I cut into thin slices and smashed into the bread before laying down sheets of Manchego.We ate near the heater, our plates and bowls balanced on small tables, our legs tucked beneath us. Watched the Maine episode of “No Reservations,” which I kept interrupting to ask, “Is that how it really is? Is this an accurate representation?” We let our stomachs settle before cutting one slice of the pie — a sharing slice — and finishing off the champagne and then, very late, rolling into bed.

I wished I could stay up late enough to extend the night through the morning, through the next day, into an ever-expanding experience that would not dilute, even with prolongation. That’s not how time works. Instead, I’ll keep the night’s memory as a talisman: a filament, a worn stone, a bottle filmed with the remnants of what it contained.

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*I think. She just said “The owner of the ramen place on 18th,” that ramen place being Ken Ken and Patterson being Ken Ken’s owner.

Christmas Picnic

I know it’s not Christmas yet, but we’re in the right month. Besides, I like the sound of Christmas Picnic. It is a phrase that asks to be repeated.If you’re not from here (or around here), you may want to stop reading now. I warn you only because you might become jealous: of this glorious weather, of the park, of the olives and cheese we destroyed. Mostly the weather: mid 60s, sunny, and breezy. I wore a striped 3/4-sleeve shirt and a knitted cowl + sunglasses. Later, a jacket, but that was only much later, after we’d been sitting out for a few hours and the sun began to set.Quarter to noon, we met for a picnic: crusty bread, salami (Genoa: Applegate Farms), olives, red grapes. Some old favorites, too, in the form of Darrel Lea’s Soft Snacking Liquorice and Triscuit (pronounced with an over-the-top French accent). Beer and champagne, but not mixed together. Jasper molded the licorice into a pony, which looked more like a Dachshund than a pony, but was a quadruped nonetheless. We watched tiny dogs comingle with large dogs; we witnessed small children contemplating hill descent.In three weeks, I’ll be back in MN, where I’ll bundle to the nines. I’m glad that, pre-departure, I can enjoy this weather (balmy, placid), nibbly treats, and friendship. Cheers to low-key picnics.

A clean, well-lit place

There’s much to report on the Garkyfront: so much that I’ll dive in and tell y’all what’s on my mind: I’m moving! Again! (I know, right — this gal’s not gathering any moss.) Come September, I’ll be relocating to the Mission, where I’ll revel in the abundance of taco stores and enjoy my new home’s natural light, bay windows, and hardwood floors. I don’t dislike the Sunset (in theory, anyhow), but it’s so freaking remote: my daily commute totals two to three hours, depending on the state of MUNI, and I budget at least an hour to get anywhere else. Tally that travel time, and you’ll realize that I’ve been spending much of my recent life on a train. That, coupled with my landlords’ tendency to wander into my living quarters, made me take action.

Friday morning, I put down a deposit and picked up my keys. I am so stoked to move in to my new place, but slightly less stoked about the prospect of boxing my books, trinkets, pairs of socks, &c. Ah, well: it’s a process that can be made more pleasant with music and PBR, right? (Aside: if any of you wants to help me pack, I’ll make you so much pizza and pour you so much prosecco. Or something equivalent.)

Picking up my keys was just the start of this past weekend. Friday night, I met Aurora for dinner at Cha Ya, where we enjoyed a serene, multi-course meal. As you know, my median dinner time has crept farther and farther past 6:00, edging into an arguably European time slot. Friday, it was back to square one: A. and I were the first diners to arrive. Our early arrival garnered us a prime table, uninterrupted service, and funny looks from passersby (who must have wondered what two twentysomethings were thinking, eating dinner at 5:00).

We began our meal with cocktails, natch — barley spirits mixed with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. (Note: How did we know the juice was fresh? We squeezed it ourselves. At the table.) Similar to vodka, this spirit was mostly tasteless; I was pleased to have fresh-squeezed juice (one of my favorite small luxuries). Aurora and I shared miso and the daintiest cucumber salad, garnished with toasted soy nuts and golden raisins and dressed in a mild vinaigrette. Next, we split a tofu custard topped with veggies: sugar snap peas, squash (undercooked, sadly), carrot coins cut to resemble blossoms. I’m sad to say that, texturally relevant though this dish was, it was bland. Cream-of-wheat bland. The veggies tasted like their natural selves; I dumped a bunch of soy sauce on my portion to spruce up the flavor, but this only made me feel as though I were eating cream of wheat with soy sauce.

The highlight of the meal was the fried eggplant stuffed with tofu and veg; ever-so-faintly sweet, the eggplant had the consistency of French toast* — a meltier, more-fried French toast — and assumed the mild ginger flavor of the sauce it bathed in. I’m partial to stuffed things — the uncovery process makes any meal more novel — and the entrée fit nicely with my Learning to Love Tofu Initiative.

After dinner, we jaunted to the Art Murmur, which was nifty and vibrant but maybe a little too scene for my evening: I’d promised myself a quiet night, but one tallboy, one vegan cupcake, and 1.5 dive bar Mai Tais later, I realized I’d made bad on my promise.

Saturday, I kicked it with Sabina, ladystyle: we spent some quality time on the couch watching only the finest Bravo had to offer. We quite possibly also watched one of the sequels to “Bring it On,” which was quite possibly featured on ABC Family. No comment there.

By Saturday evening, I wanted to swaddle myself in my comforter and sleep the deepest, most dreamless sleep, but I had other plans — I was meeting Alex to cook dinner. We spent a goodly amount of time paging through cookbooks, admiring rare chops and crusty loaves and Nigella’s sultry poses, and we decided, in the end, to visit Bi-Rite and get whatever struck our fancy.**

Aside: Oh, my god: as much as I love general grocery shopping, I love shopping at Bi-Rite the best. I’m drawn in by the jewel-bright berries, the stone fruits whittled into sample slices, the orderly rows of cupcakes and tarts. Such order! Such prosperity. As I stood considering the bins of olives, a salesdude wandered over and gave me samples of a few varieties; little did he know that I’d already decided to get a tub of Cerignolas.Roughly an hour later, we began to cook, but not in any old way. No, no: the preparation of this dinner was just as leisurely as the preceding grocery trip. Alex put on music; I broke the bundled Romaine hearts into leaves and washed them in lukewarm water. We paused to snack on olives, take a sip of whiskey, flip the record. A few minutes passed, then an hour; the vinaigrette was ready, the bread warmed in the oven, and the steaks hissed in their pan. I set the table with one green plate and one yellow. We were hungry, yes, but not so hungry to overlook the luxury of a languorously prepared meal.

If I had to choose (which I don’t, seeing as I’m the one recounting this experience, but I’ll choose, anyway), my favorite part of the meal was bread topped with manchego and membrillo. I’d never had quince paste, and I smitten with its texture (jam-aspic hybrid?), sweetness, and bloody hue; paired with the crumbly cheese, it was divine. All night, I thought about this combination, the satisfaction I took in its simplicity. Sunday, after a glorious brunch and my tour, I bought a wedge of twelve-month-aged manchego and a tub of membrillo and set to work making my newest favorite comfort food.

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*Which I’ve been craving something fierce lately, god help me. I never used to like French toast, but look at me now! #seachange

**This isn’t entirely true: we did decide to make a variation of Jamie Oliver’s Insalata di Strata, but our protein/beverage/dessert choices were guided by impulse alone.