It was an awesome day on the friendship and food fronts. Not a nutritionally awesome day, mind you, but tomorrow I plan to eat only kale, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and berries. Or something like that.
Hook and I had our Breakfast of Champions at La Boulange. H. stuck with his traditional Morning Bun and Coke, while I tried a product I’ve been eyeing for some time: the Goat Cheese and Cassis Pear Danish.
My crappy iPhone photo does this pastry no justice. The cheese was rich and sweet; the poached pear was a pure, royal purple and tender to the tooth. I lingered over each bite of the Danish (to the chagrin of other patrons, who wanted to nab our table). Oh, La Boulange! I sing your praises so often, but justifiably so — you’ve never let me down.
Gail and I met for lunch in the Mission. We didn’t have a destination in mind and ended up at Andalu, where I got this:
I half-considered getting the savory waffles (being that my breakfast was so sweet), but I stuck to my sugary guns and got Waffles with Sautéed Berries. Waffles are a breakfast food I love above most others but don’t eat very often. I don’t own a waffle iron and when I’m out to brunch I lean toward eggier choices. Today, in a rare stroke of spontaneity, I got these bad boys. Golden, buttery, and crisp, these waffles stood head and shoulders above any I’ve eaten in the past year (or two: make it two). The berries had hints of butter and lemon juice; the whipped cream was mousselike and sweet. And the Polenta Fries? They’re not something I’d have created in my own kitchen*, but they were satisfying in a very fair foody way. They didn’t have the crispness of ordinary fries and they seemed to have been spiked with cheddar, but I’m glad I tried them.
In the high, midday heat, Gail and I sipped our Shandies and reminisced about Knox, college life, and The Midwest in General. Indeed, the record temps and the amped-up comfort food perfectly complemented our conversation; for a moment, I could almost envision myself back in Western Illinois, where the polenta fries would have been replaced by their potato-based cousins. Where the waffle would have been dinner plate sized, dry, and served with a scoop of whipped butter. I’m reaching to say that I found hints of Midwesternism in my midday meal, but it’s a pleasant reach. Andalu should take pride in the nostalgia they generated.
Dinner was of the “let’s see what we have left in the pantry and fridge” variety. Hook and I haven’t been grocery shopping in a week** but wanted to cook something rather than eating out. We were a little too sunstricken to brave a trip to the store, so we scrounged in the pantry, with fairly impressive results:
Here we have Pasta with Edamame, Goat Cheese, and Black Pepper — a seemingly odd combination, but a satisfying one. When the goat cheese melted, it fully coated the pasta strands, and the edamame added some color (and protein). The pasta itself was like spaghetti, but hollow — a detail that made the dish all the more delicious to me. (Note: I’m of the school that the shape of the pasta influences the “taste” of the dish, in that it affects my perception of the dish and therefore the consequent taste. Hook had Farfalle, but on Friday I went and bought this pasta because I perceived that a long, thin noodle would “taste” better to me. And so it did.)
Perhaps more satisfying than the melted goat cheese was the act of using up bits and bobs from the cupboard, fridge, and freezer. To me, grocery shopping is not just a necessity, but a hobby. I’ll find any reason to traipse down to the grocery store to pick up one item that I need/five that I don’t. For me, then, creating a relatively healthy, fully enjoyable meal from what I have already is a double triumph: an act of skillful preparation and of fiscal responsibility.
And that, friends, was Saturday. The weekend is off to a good start; tomorrow will bring the Folsom Street Fair and (I hope) further dining adventures.
*Primarily because I don’t often cook with polenta, though Cooking With Polenta is a definite goal for the coming year.
**At least, but I’d be embarrassed to admit how long it has actually been. OK, it has actually been a week and a half.