What I Ate Wednesday #124: Valentine’s Feasting

Valentine’s Day might be one of my favorite holidays. We don’t do the bouquet of roses, sappy cards, get dressed up for dinner kind of thing. We learned that wasn’t necessary many years ago. Not to mention, who wants to pay $200 for a dinner that takes HOURS to come out after ordering while 100 other people wait around you? Personally, I’m a fan of a quiet night at home, cooking together and drinking some good wine.

Peas & Crayons What I Ate Wednesday WIAW

We cheated a little bit this year and bought our main dish. Last year, we went all out and made a pistachio-crusted lamb which turned out wonderfully. This year, however, we went to the farmers’ market the week before Valentine’s Day and saw that Roli Roti has a new rotisserie duck l’orange. We already love their rotisserie chicken, brussels, and potatoes, so how could we say no? We woke up on Valentine’s Day and got to the market as soon as they opened to get our duck.

It was so nice to relax rather than having to work on the main dish. So we broke out a bottle of Black Zeppelin, a 2009 Syrah blend, that we got in 2012. We bought 2 bottles and had the first right away. This bottle was even better than we remembered!

Black Zeppelin Syrah Blend 2009

It was also gone pretty quickly!

Cabot Cheddar Cheese Dried Apricots Blue Diamond Almonds

I also made a cheesy [ha.. in both senses of the word] plate to snack on while the side dish was in the oven. Thank you very much, Cabot!

Kirkland Prosecco

And what goes better with cheese than prosecco? Only the finest bottle in our house..

Duck L'Orange Roasted Brussels Sprouts Potatoes Egg Yolk Porn

The main event.. it was better than I could have imagined! Did I mention that this was my first time eating meat in 2 weeks? Nathan’s idea for the dippy egg over top of the rosemary garlic roasted potatoes and brussels was killer. I was absolutely in heaven!

Blueberry Squares Smitten Kitchen Lush Tahitian Vanilla Gelato

And if that wasn’t enough, I made a “single serving” [which really turned out to be a double. So we nicely shared.] of Smitten Kitchen’s blueberry crumb bars. I’d only made them once before, a couple years ago, and Nathan has been talking about them ever since. I decided Valentine’s Day was the perfect day to break it out again. We also bought some Tahitian Vanilla gelato from our favorite place, Lush, right down the street. It was the perfect topping.

Dinner was fabulous, as always, and we were more than full. Or as we like to say, fat and happy.

Food for Thought

Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day?

We’re Going to the ALCS!

If this weekend wasn’t already pretty fantastic, the Orioles swept the Tigers and are going to the ALCS! I may or may not have been jumping up and down. And Nathan may or may not have picked me up as I was yelling “ALCS! ALCS! ALCS!” in celebration. It’s a good thing he’s just as weird as I am..

The weather was absolutely incredible over the weekend. Actually, it really has been for at least the past week, but Saturday was especially beautiful. Saturday was also Yom Kippur but I was not about to let fasting get in the way of enjoy the weather. That said, I really tried to pack in the calories Friday night! I loaded up on beer, brick oven baked chicken wings, salmon salad, a little pizza, and of course, pumpkin pie gelato.

Baltimore Orioles AL East Division Champions Smoked Ale

Cheers to the Orioles!

Jupiter Berkeley Baked Garlic Chicken Wings Homemade Ranch

The homemade ranch really kicks it up a notch.

Jupiter Berkeley Salmon Salad Xanthia Pizza Beer

I stole all of the warm ricotta off of Nathan’s pizza πŸ˜‰

Pumpkin Pie Gelato Almare Berkeley

I had to go with the seasonal flavor.

We also stopped for a bit to listen to the awesome live music on the street. They had a pianist, drummer, trumpeter, and clarinetist. So bizarre and so wonderful.

Berkeley California Live Music

Fabulous live music on the streets of Berkeley!

Saturday we spent much of the day at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I made a huge effort to explore the area when we first got there and we took a walk over to the Sutro Baths. It was worth all of my strength that went into it for such gorgeous views.

Ocean Beach Sutro Baths San Francisco 2

Stunning views.

Ocean Beach Sutro Baths San Francisco

Couldn’t ask for more beautiful weather.

Ocean Beach Sutro Baths San Francisco Nathan Brittany

We made it!

I was also rewarded by taking a nap on the beach afterward. I pretty much laid down and didn’t move for hours and it was glorious! After a few hours, we made our way back home where I took another nap. I swear, I have no idea how people ever fast. I need me some food! And after 23 hours, Nathan convinced me to break the fast.. with a shot of bourbon. Usually in my family we break with a shot of scotch, but bourbon was all we had. What a terrible problem to have, right? Then we went for dinner!

Harvest Chef Salad Sam Adams Oktoberfest Pappys Berkeley

I needed to get my hand in for size reference.

Harvest Chef Salad Sam Adams Oktoberfest Pappys Berkeley CA

Worth a second view!

You bet that salad bowl was completely empty along with more cornbread for Nathan’s salad. Whoops πŸ˜‰ I was a happy camper after all of that food though.

Yesterday was pretty quiet with the exception of the excitement of the Orioles game! It was a sports day around here and I had a work meeting [and got to check out the new equipment!] Nathan cooked dinner while I was gone, so I figured I could work my magic with the rest of the week’s menu..

Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday – Cajun chicken with Israeli salad
Monday – Chicken and easy broccoli stir fry
TuesdayIndian-style chicken satay with curried cashew sauce
Wednesday – Leftovers
Thursday20 minute Thai basil chicken with lemongrass rice bowl
Friday – Out!
Saturday – Leftovers

There’s also a chance I’ll make these roasted sweet potato black bean burgers to have in the freezer. Don’t they look delicious?!

Food for Thought

If you were fasting or even had to fast, what would be your break fast meal?
What’s on your menu this week?

Back to Reality

Well, looks like we’re back to regularly scheduled programming. Unfortunately, we dropped my parents off at the airport yesterday afternoon. I can’t believe the week flew by so quickly but we really had a great time. In my mom’s words..

“It’s been food and drink and food and drink and WALKING! Lots of fun.”

San Francisco Giants Park Tour

And a little AT&T Park tour.

I’m not ready to go back to reality yet, but I guess that’s what happens when you grow up, huh? Nathan took the whole week off while they were here and we really treated it like a vacation for us too! We tried a bunch of new restaurants, visited some new places, and also showed off some of our faves. I mentioned last week that I fully expected their visit to be tough. Leading up to their visit, I hadn’t been feeling to awesome about the changes I’ve noticed in my body but I wanted to try to forget about that for the week. The first couple days it was on my mind, but honestly, I think making the deal with myself that I was just going to say screw it, enjoy every minute with them, and go back to my normal, healthier eating when they left made it so much easier. Ice cream again? Sure! Another beer sampler to share? Let’s do it! No need to justify my decisions to anyone because we were all about enjoying ourselves. You bet I had a couple of nights where I felt uncomfortably full but I’ll forget about that. What I won’t forget is seeing my parents try beer after beer after beer [they’re not big drinkers!]. I won’t forget watching my dad break up a cookie for a sundae before paying for it. I won’t forget sharing a lunch at Source with my mom and then discovering amazing gelato that we had to share too. I won’t forget watching my dad and Nathan play catch on the beach after our picnic. So today I resume my “normal” eating and I go back to working on getting back to feeling more comfortable in my skin. But only after having some chocolate coconut milk ice cream for dessert last night. Because ice cream is what we did. And last night was still “vacation” and damnit, I wanted some ice cream!

Food for Thought

Are you able to let go of your “crazy” sometimes? It was the best thing I could have done while they were here.

What I Ate Wednesday #75: We Did It Right

I think in the process of running my parents all around the bay area, we ran ourselves into the ground a little too. Unfortunately, they’re heading back home today and as much as I may need a little more sleep, I don’t want them to go. It has really felt so much more like home with them here. If I had my whole family with me, I wouldn’t think twice about where I was. Anywhere. I miss ’em already but Nathan and I both made sure we did it right!

There was some healthy food…
The Plant Cafe

Venus Breakfast Berkeley California

…some home cooked meals…
Sweet Potato Zucchini Red Pepper Frittata

Black rice bowl chipotle orange chicken Half Baked Harvest

Jerk shrimp fried plantain wheat berries Half Baked Harvest

…some brunching…
Challah French Toast Tomate Cafe

…a little pizza…
Zacharys Chicago Style Pizza

…more than one ice cream/gelato trip…
Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Chunk Gelato

Coffee Break Chocolate Peanut Butter Tuckers Ice Cream Alameda

…LOTS of Asian food…
Coffee Ribs Lai Hong Lounge

Eel Clay Pot Lai Hong Lounge

Pea Shoots Lai Hong Lounge

Sake Jime Salmon Iyasare

Iyasare Berkeley California

Drunken Noodles Spice I Am

Spicy Grilled Pork Bibimbop HRD Coffee Shop

Chisari Yojimbo Alameda

Sushi Yojimbo Alameda

…a few drinks all around…
Bear Republic Beer Sampler

Lagunitas Beer Sampler 2

Lagunitas Beer Sampler

Buena Vista Cafe Irish Coffee

21st Amendment

…and so many incredible memories.
Bear Republic Cheers

Buena Vista Cafe Irish Coffee Cheers

I absolutely cannot wait to see them again. It’s been such a great week. Cheers!

Food for Thought

Where is your favorite place to take out-of-town visitors?

Mom and Dad Do San Francisco

I’ve been a bit MIA on the social media scene for the past few days since my parents have gotten into town, but I make up for it with pictures!

Wednesday

Citizen Chain San Francisco

Biking is good for your ass.

Mom Dad Golden Gate Bridge

First view of the bridge!

Biggest Sweet Potato Ever

Biggest sweet potato I ever done seen!

Thursday

Sweet Potato Zucchini Red Pepper Frittata

Feeding the fam before a day of drinking. Killer frittata!

Bear Republic Beer Sampler

Bear Republic beer samplers! #1 and #2 for the day.

Bear Republic Cheers

Cheers!

Sbragia Healdsburg California

Doin’ wine country.

Sbragia Healdsburg California

Mom and Dad doin’ wine country.

Lagunitas Beer Sampler

Lagunitas beer sample #1.. #3 for the day.

Lagunitas Beer Sampler 2

Lagunitas beer sampler #2. Made it #4 for the day and Dad could hardly wait πŸ˜‰

Friday

Pacifica State Beach

Dragged em to the beach.

Mom Me Pacifica State Beach

The boys went climbing and we took a sit.

Iyasare Berkeley California

One of the many beautiful dishes at Iyasare.

Saturday

Eggs Benedict Spice I Am Source Vegetarian Gelato

Ran around town with Mom while the boys took a rest day. So much good food!

Sunday

Alcatraz Cutoff

GET ME OUT! Oh.. there’s the door.

Alcatraz Dad

He looks a little too happy to be behind bars. Ha!

The Plant Cafe Blueberry Kombucha

Blueberry kombucha on tap to top off a delicious lunch at The Plant.

Buena Vista Cafe Irish Coffee

Buena Vista Cafe. Home of the original Irish coffee.

Buena Vista Cafe Irish Coffee Cheers

Cheers! Again!

We may or may not be drinking and walking them into the ground. And you bet your butt we’re headed to more breweries and doing lots more walking tomorrow. But we’re having a great time and I love having them here!

Food for Thought

What is your favorite thing to do when you have out-of-town visitors?

Foodie Friday: Balsamic Tasting in Modena

You think you know balsamic vinegar? Think again.

One of my most favorite meals and overall experiences from the honeymoon was in Modena, Italy. It was another recommendation from Anthony Bourdain and it was absolutely worth every calorie!

Pedroni. It’s the only name you need to know. We drove from Florence to the Osteria in Modena. As we walked in, we were greeted by the owner; an older, 80-something man, who speaks strictly Italian. And when I say we were greeted, I mean Mr. Pedroni yelled at us in Italian for a few minutes, picked up a rotary phone, dialed a few numbers, hung up, and then continued to yell at us. If you could only see the stunned look on our faces.. Luckily a woman came out speaking English and was ready to take us on a tour.

Acetaia Pedroni di Modena Italy Balsamic Vinegar Tour

We learned all about the process of making balsamic vinegar from start to finish, which, in their case, is sometimes over 25 years! At Pedroni, they do everything in-house, all the way down to the bottling, so while they are making large batches, they only produce 80-100 bottles per year. The rest of the vinegar gets to sit in the wood barrels and continue to age. After the tour was over, it was time to taste!

Aceto Balsamic Tradizonale di Modena

We started small; balsamic vinegar jam. Holy moly, that stuff was so tasty! The first thing Nathan and I both noticed was that we didn’t get that pucker in the backs of our mouths that we often get from vinegars that we buy at home. It was very smooth and as we continued down the line, it got even better! We tasted four different vinegars; we started with the Italo, aged for 12 years, it was like nothing we had ever tasted before. Followed by the 15-year aged Umberto, this vinegar was aged in oak and juniperwood barrels giving it more of a spicy flavor. The Giuseppe, or the “Extra Old” vinegar, is aged 25 years in oak and chestnut woods. And finally, the Claudio. This cream of the crop “Extravecchio” is aged over 25 years in chestnut and cherry woods. It is so silky, smooth and has a slight fruity flavor. If only it weren’t so pricy, we would have taken home a barrel! πŸ˜‰

We did, however, bring home a bottle of the Italo and a few jars of the jam. We just couldn’t leave without it; there is nothing that we’ve ever tasted before that could compare. And we will definitely be ordering more when we sadly finish this bottle!

Happily, the tasting didn’t end there. It was lunch time! We started with a bottle of their homemade sparkling red wine. YUM! [We will also be adding that to our online order.] The pasta was served family-style but it was just for the two of us so we had no problem digging right in!

Acetaia Pedroni di Modena Italy Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Lunch

First Course
Fresh ricotta tortelloni drizzled with the Italo vinegar. Have you ever had fresh pasta? It completely melts in your mouth. I could have eaten the whole plate myself!

Second Course
Tagliatelle with ragu sauce drizzled with the Umberto vinegar. Northern Italian ragu is completely different then what you’d expect. It’s more of a meat sauce with just a touch of tomato. Pasta ragu was definitely one of my favorite meals to get on the entire trip. We added a little extra vinegar for those last little bites πŸ˜‰

Third Course
Chicken with onions, a couple ribs, and frittata drizzled with the Giuseppe. To say that this frittata was the best I’ve ever had would be an understatement. Nathan, who never ate eggs before, asked me if I would kindly follow the recipe and make him one at home. He devoured it!

Dessert
Crema gelato drizzled with the 25+ aged Claudio. Good golly! We practically licked all of our plates and bowls clean, which is a very good thing because Mr. Pedroni does not let you leave without finishing everything on your plate!

And if that wasn’t enough, they brought about 9 or 10 bottles of different liqueurs, one being their homemade grappa. Being the polite guest that I am, I promptly began tasting! I might have had 1/10th of a shot of each.. I don’t think I could handle any more but I sure am glad I tried all of them.

Acetaia Pedroni di Modena Italy Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Lunch 2

Nathan and I wrapped up our amazing [and incredible filling!] two-hour meal and concurred that this was one of our top experiences of the trip. If we do make it back to the Tuscany area, you can bet we’ll be heading to Pedroni for lunch!

Food for Thought

What is the best experience you’ve ever had at a restaurant?

When you return to a travel destination, do you go back to the same places, or do you try something new?

What I Ate Wednesday: Quick Honeymoon Update

Pizza.

I just ate a whole pizza for lunch.

image

I can’t tell you the last time I had pizza, but damnit, I’m in Italy and it was lunch time. And it was absolutely incredible.

Now excuse me while I pass out. It is almost time for more wine, biscotti, pasta, and gelato after all πŸ˜‰