Anniversary Pictures, Petaluma, Arroz con Pollo
Our lemon tree has its first blossom! It seems like an odd time to start making fruit, but what do I know? It smells gooood!
Last weekend, we dusted off our tripod and took a bunch of pictures of ourselves around our apartment and neighboring park. I'd like to start a tradition of taking pictures of our family every year around our anniversary. I briefly thought about getting a real photographer to do it, but it's so much cheaper to use the timer function on the camera. None of the pictures came out great, but there are a few good ones. This is my favorite:
And then there were some not-so-good pictures, like this one, in which I was telling Patrick that I couldn't look down at him because it would make my chin/neck area look bad. Not like looking up was such an attractive choice either.
On Tuesday I left work early and drove up to Petaluma to cash in my anniversary gift certificate and take a letterpress class at Dauphine! I got there with enough time to walk around and have dinner before the class started. I looked around Dauphine (which was a very cute store filled with sweet cards and paper goods, as expected) and purchased some cards (blurry picture). The friendly saleslady told me that they were out of their normal cute bags, so she had to give me their candy bags instead (which are normally reserved for ribbon purchases). I thought the candy bag was plenty cute!
I had decided to go to Central Market for dinner because it looked like just the kind of place I'd like, plus people online seemed to like it. They didn't have their hours posted, so I waited until a little after 5 and walked in. It turns out they weren't open until 5:30, but the host said he wouldn't turn me away and seated me. I was brought some bread (house-made ciabatta and crackers dusted with chili powder and studded with fennel seeds--unusual but good) and cucumber water to keep me occupied until the kitchen was ready. It was so nice of them to let me hang out until they actually opened!
I was the only one there for most of my meal, and the owner and chef, Tony, stopped by and chatted with me a few times. He had some attitude, but he was friendly enough. I was flattered that he took the time to talk to me and make sure I liked everything. And I did like everything!
I decided to go with a relatively light dinner of soup and salad. The soup was a sweet corn chowder with baby scallops, bacon and opal basil. It was sweet, smoky and delicious. Next, I had a salad of butter lettuce, thinly-sliced apples, smoked trout and dried cranberries with a mustard vinaigrette. It was yummy, but my mouth tasted like smoked fish for the rest of the evening. I guess that's my own fault.
I hadn't planned on getting dessert, but I caved and ordered the butterscotch pot de creme. It was served in a coffee cup and topped with frothed milk, with some sort of coffee-flavored sandwich cookie on the side. The cookie didn't do much for me, but the pudding made me very happy :)
I would definitely return to Central Market in the future. The service was pleasant, I liked the spare decor, and the food was delicious. As I was having dessert, a group of well-dressed people came in and started discussing some sort of wine deal (I guess that's standard in Somoma County). I wanted to stay and see what happened, but I had a letterpress class to attend!
The letterpress class was from 6:30 to 9:30pm, and there were four other people enrolled. I had assumed that we would be setting type, like we did in college, but upon further reflection, that wouldn't be practical in only three hours. Instead, we used adhesive-backed photopolymer plates of various letters (not a complete alphabet, sadly) and line drawings that we just stuck in place on the bed. It was kind of elementary compared to what we did in Typography back in college, but I still enjoyed it. I'd missed using a letterpress. This one was a Vandercook, a lot like the presses we used in Typography.
Two of the other women in the class were graphic designers, and they put together some well-composed cards. I wasn't able to come up with a coherent design given the components at hand, but I did make some cute bicycle prints. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, since they're not perfect (we didn't have time to perfect the inking or positioning, so they're smudgy and off-center), but I think I could cut them out and glue them onto another piece of paper.
The class was enjoyable, and the people at Dauphine were really nice (they wished me a happy anniversary when they found out the class was part of my anniversary gift). If we lived closer to Petaluma, I'd totally attend more classes and buy more cards from them! You can also rent press time, once you're trained, so that's good to keep in mind if I come up with any ambitious letterpress projects in the future (not likely!).
While telling my coworkers about this class at lunch, I found out that one of them has three letterpresses and 20 cases of type that he inherited from his grandfather (who worked as a print-maker all his life). It would be awesome to have a press and type but a pain to move it anywhere, as this coworker has learned. We'll just have to wait until we have our imaginary home with plenty of barn space for Patrick's welding and my letterpress (and goats and chickens and sheep!), and then I can buy an old Vandercook and start printing things!
Last night, I made Arroz con Pollo from the September/October 2006 issue of Cook's Illustrated. I was under the impression that it would take a little over an hour to make, but it ended up taking 2.5 hours, so we had a late dinner. But it was really good, I must admit. Cook's Illustrated knows what they're doing. It seems like it would be lots of fun writing for them and perfecting recipes all methodically.
I would make the dish again, but maybe on a weekend so we could eat at a reasonable hour. I like the first picture because it shows the pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives that are used in the dish. They're so festive, all red and green. I've never had cause to buy them before.