Pride and Prejudice Tea Party, Healthy Summer Grilling
Yesterday, we drove over to the East Bay and had brunch at Citron. We were seated by the window with a good view of Rockridge residents walking their mid-sized dogs and chatting on the sidewalk. Rockridge is a nice place, as is Citron. This was our first visit, but I'd definitely like to go there again.
We started with a pair of cinnamon-sugar donut holes, which were delicious, of course. I can't refuse a good jam and baked good assortment, so we got the starter of strawberry-rhubarb jam, bergamot orange marmalade, and lemon curd with mini corn muffin, grilled sourdough baguette, and a petite croissant. It was so good; I would've been happy just to order another one of those and call it a meal. Here is the happy assortment (deserving of more than a grainy cell phone picture).
Patrick had a fluffy omelet with porcini mushrooms, sweet corn, and chevre, with which he was quite happy. I had the special--a dungeness crab benedict. It was beautiful. The Hollandaise sauce was light and lemony, and the English muffins were dense and chewy. Yum, yum, yum! I was less taken with the side of breakfast potatoes (a little undercooked) and the fresh fruit (good honeydew, but mushy nectarine slices). But still, I was so happy with our meal. I was super full afterwards.
Next, Patrick dropped me off at Tree and Andrew's place for a Pride and Prejudice tea party, which was as delightful as it sounds. I'm lucky to have friends who organize tea parties! Tree and Amanda put together a great spread, complete with an assortment of teas, little crustless sandwiches, chocolate-dipped digestive biscuits, and homemade scones. It was all so good.
We sat around and watched all five hours of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. This was the second time I'd seen it (I watched it in installments with my coworkers over lunch last fall), and I liked it just as much as I originally did. No wonder it's so popular.
I baked a batch of Rosebud Madeleines (from How to Be a Domestic Goddess). They seemed appropriately cute and tea-party-like. It was my first time using rosewater (a little hard to locate, but I found it at Draegers, and I hear you can get it at Whole Foods too). The cookies were different than I'd imagined--kind of dense, with a pronounced rosewater flavor. They seemed to go over well with the tea party guests. I agree with Patrick--they're good, but they're not my favorite cookie ever. I might try them with orange blossom water, which was also available at Draegers.
I was very happy with my new mini madeleine pan. The shell pattern on the front of the cookie was well defined, and the cookie backs were nicely curved, which is (I believe) how they should be. Each madeleine required a little less than 1 tsp of batter. Nigella's recipe said it would make 48 cookies, but I only got 29 cookies, so I must have overfilled the molds a little. It didn't cause me any problems though.
After the tea party wrapped up and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy got together, Patrick came and got me (he had been at a manly grilling party with all of the tea party husbands), and we headed into San Francisco for dinner. We went to Il Borgo in Hayes Valley, at the recommendation of Patrick's roommate from grad school (he recommended it about 3 years ago, and we only now got around to going).
There were plenty of empty tables, which explains why when I called to change our reservation time, the guy who answered the phone didn't seem too worried (he didn't even ask what my name was). I guess there are plenty of other newer restaurants in the area (Suppenkuche is only a block away). Il Borgo feels like a comfortable neighborhood place; a restaurant to go to when you want to eat well without paying too much.
The food was simple but delicious. Patrick had pasta alla amatriciana, and I had the lasagnetta (noodles rolled up with mozzarella in a cream tomato sauce--how can you go wrong?). We sopped up the sauce with simple Italian bread. Good stuff. I would go back there, but I'd also go to Suppenkuche or any of the other restaurants we haven't tried yet in the area. Tough call!
We walked a few blocks over to Citizen Cake for dessert. We had peeked in the windows on our other visits to Hayes St., but this was our first time eating there. They have some crazy (but good) plated desserts. Patrick had the Age of Innocence (sauteed organic stone fruits, thyme and walnut streusel, double cream), and I had Summer Snow (white peach litchi soup, marcona almond tofu, vanilla oil, violet sorbet). Both desserts were reasonably sized (I was afraid it would be too much dessert after our filling dinners, but it was just right). I especially liked the violet sorbet in my soup, and the almond tofu was surprisingly delicious.
Toward the end of dessert, a group of four was seated next to us, and both men in the party were drunk and loud. They were pretty annoying, but our waitress handled them very well. I was impressed. It's a nice place, and conveniently located near good restaurants and the opera. In addition to the plated desserts, they also have a bakery counter full of beautiful treats.
We wrapped up the night at 330 Ritch near the ballpark. One of Patrick's coworkers is in a cover band (Buda Belly) that was playing there last night. Who knew a business development guy could wail so hard on the guitar? It was a fun time. I particularly enjoyed their rendition of Pat Benatar's Heartbreaker. That song rocks!
Today was much quieter. Patrick went to the Burlingame Criterium (bike-related), and I walked to the farmers' market and sat around our apartment. Patrick fired up the grill for the first time this season, and we had a healthy farmers' market meal of grilled salmon (from the fish vendor--F/V Anne B of Pillar Point Harbor; this was my first visit to their booth, and I'll definitely buy from them again), asparagus, and yellow squash with a big bowl of technicolor strawberries, blackberries, and nectarines for dessert.
We referred to How to Grill (by the guy with the scary glasses), which worked out pretty well. He suggested that asparagus be grilled in rafts (pictured blurrily above) to make it easier to handle, but Patrick wasn't a fan. He said that since our grill is small, the skewers just got all tangled up and caused more problems than they solved. They looked cool at least.
The squash was grilled with a little garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and it turned out really well. The salmon wasn't quite as good. I asked Patrick to use the rub from this recipe, which may have been ill-advised. It ended up overseasoned. I'm not sure if it was over-salted, over-peppered (we have a new pepper mill, and we haven't become accustomed to its rate of pepper dispensal yet), the use of lime instead of lemon zest, too much rub for the amount of salmon, or just that a dry rub that works well in a cast iron pan doesn't work when you're grilling. Anyway, it was still edible, and we'll try something different next time. I'd like to make it a habit to get fish from the Menlo Park fishmonger most Sundays, now that I know he sells good stuff.
I had wanted to make a cobbler with our berries, but I opted to serve them with a little lime juice and sprinkling of sugar instead, to be healthier. We still have a pint of strawberries though, and I'm feeling a hankering for strawberry shortcake. Must resist!
Summer's so great :)