Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Taste of NYC

With girl friends and shopping bags in tow, I wasted no time in New York heading to my favorite late lunch destination: Balthazar. I have a feeling we looked like a Sex and the City brunch, times 3.5 tables, plus one token male. Actually, I have a feeling we sounded like that, too.

To me, a visit to Balthazar is a restorative experience that makes me pause and appreciate the simple joys of life. Every time I visit the city, I make a point of a Balthazar stop ... for a steaming bowl of French onion soup on a rainy day, or for moules frites when I feel like working my way through a luxuriously long meal, bite by bite. Sometimes I will wander inside and write over a glass of Chateauneuf du Pape (I cannot tell a lie; I wish I were writing now over a glass of CdP).

On this particular day, my Olympic Club soccer team had arrived via redeye in the early morning and after a shopping excursion through SoHo, stopped for a late lunch and wine at Balthazar. Well, some prioritized the lunch and some prioritized the wine! We refueled over a couple bottles of rose, a calamari and shrimp ceviche, and a roasted beet salad (with roasted beets, haricots verts, and wedges of fourme d'Ambert, is anyone actually capable of choosing differently?).

We cooled off after a day of late summer New York heat. Our tired feet took a break before the last shopping push. We shared purchases, laughs, bites of salad, and now we share memories of an afternoon together at my favorite New York sanctuary.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oh, Porchetta...

The San Francisco Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building is a haven for foodies. For those that cook as well as those that don't, the market is filled with special ingredients and tempting treats.

In my recent quest to buy locally and sustainably produced food, I have frequented the Farmers' Market for my fruits and vegetables. Though the produce is pricier than what I would find in grocery or super stores, I love the idea of supporting local farms and farmers and think it is a small way to give back to my community.

On a more personal note, I truly think the upcharge is a small price to pay for a consistently amazing Saturday morning experience. In my (reusable) shopping bag I bring home items that thrill me for the morning and sustain me for the week. A summer filled with stone fruit has tantalized my taste buds; a kitchen filled with aromatic herbs and fresh cut flowers has delighted my senses.

Of late, though, I have most looked forward to combining my shopping trips with a little breakfast.

After fueling up with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee, I try to sample something different every time. I have lined up for Primavera chilaquiles, a hearty Prather Ranch breakfast sandwich, and the Hayes Street Grill salmon BLT. (I will admit the perfectly grilled salmon, crispy slabs of Hobbs bacon, and dollop of tartar sauce on Acme toast has swayed me more than once.)

Despite that, I have never paused long before the Roli Roti truck. I always thought the long line of people were waiting for rotisserie chicken.... chicken that looked and smelled amazing, but chicken nonetheless. Somehow I had missed the reverential whispers of the famed porchetta sandwich.

Saturday's thunderstorms worked in my favor, and as I passed by the Roli Roti truck, without a daunting queue of pork-loving patrons in front, I was able to pause and watch a sandwich being made. I am a sandwich loving girl ... and this one stopped me in my tracks.

The gifted sandwich man began with two long slices of toasted Acme bread, oven crisped to a lovely golden brown. In the move that stole my heart (and my palate), he sopped each side of bread in the pool of meaty juices forming from slab of herb filled porchetta. He expertly layered porchetta slices with crispy bits of pork belly and deeply caramelized onions, topping the creation with peppery greens and a touch of aromatic rosemary sea salt. Smitten, I exchanged $8.50 for a plate filled with bliss.

I have a date next Saturday with this sandwich. I can't wait to try it again. And, it combines some of the best of what the Farmers' Market has to offer: Acme bread, peppery greens, and aromatic rosemary salt. I'm not saying you could make it at home ... but wouldn't it be fun to try?