I had a flashback to boardwalks and salt water taffy when I stumbled upon the stunningly smart, simple cardboard, hand-stamped, string-tied, wax sealed box of maple honey caramels by Sweet Revolution. These locally and lovingly made organic caramels are big, chewy, flavour-packed nuggets - the kind addictions are made of. I bought mine at BiRite (3639 18th St., 415-241-9760) and have spied them at Rainbow Grocery (1745 Folsom St., 415-863-0621), too.
|We Love Jam|
Not only do the folks at welovejam produce a little bit of summer Blenheim apricot heaven in a jar, they get everything about the whole package just right: From the pure simplicity of the craft paper label and logo, to the gorgeous color of the jam peeking through. The jar announces exactly what it is: simply, purely, perfectly lovely jam. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a splurge—and worth every last endangered-Blenheim preserving penny.
|Boulettes Larder Eggs|
Unless you have an art project in mind, there’s no more joyless container than the drab, grey, pressed-cardboard egg carton. If you dig fresh eggs, I suggest upping your joy quotient at Boulettes Larder on Saturday mornings, where you can buy the farm freshest eggs around, sweetly packaged in little wooden baskets. Ferry Building Marketplace, 415-399-1155.
I’m also a sucker for shortbread cookies. On a recent outing to Blue Fog Market (2567 Gough St., 415-931-9331 and 2794 California St., 415-931-9035), I discovered Batter Bakery’s big, crisp lavender and sea salt shortbread cookies. I’m not normally much of a lavender fan, but Jen Musty (the gal who is Batter Bakery) gets it just right. They pair perfectly with a piping hot cup of Earl Grey. A greater variety of Jen’s treats are available around town, including Stable Café (2128 Folsom St., 415-442-1199) and Dolores Park and Duboce Park Cafes.
When a friend took me to the original Paulette in LA last summer, I’d just returned from Paris where I’d snacked on many a LaDuree and Pierre Herme macaroon. I was more than a tad skeptical—but immediately became a fan. The vibrant colors (and flavors!) of the macaroons, shiny colored boxes and store décor are a treat for the eyes and mouth… and are a perfect antidote to the grey days of winter. 437 Hayes St., 415-864-2400.
Tuesday, February 17
|In celebration of my birthday month, I’ve been ordering up drinks around town. I do my best to keep up on food and drink trends, so in the name of bona fide food styling ‘research,’ I went out exploring and found a few treasures:|
During that glorious and disturbing summery weather patch, I sought out a little something frosty and found the Boston Swizzle at Nettie’s Crab Shack. Made with bourbon, citrus and grenadine, it’s not only my new favorite spiked snow cone, the condensation on the metal julep cup just begs for a message or design to be carved into it. I’m looking forward to having a little condensation graffiti fun for the camera soon.
|Another ice-centric discovery for me was at Nihon—that is, if you prefer your whiskey on the rock (yes, singular). Instead of using standard ice cubes, Nihon uses a single sphere of ice to minimize dilution of the whiskey. I loved the ice sphere in the brandy snifter and how beautifully the light played on the super-tasty Japanese whiskey. Ice sphere: Duly noted. [You can buy the sphere-of-ice molds, oddly, at Paper Source in the Marina.]|
|Photo by Annabelle Breakey||I’d been told about a cocktail flight at Luna Park and I love variety, so ordered one up. In addition to variety, the “Fancy Flight of Cocktails” also delivered what is normally one of my least favorite things: a paper doily. In this instance, though, I was surprised to find that I actually thought the doily was kinda sweet, in an old-fashioned romantic kind of way. You can see my ode to the trio in the champagne cocktail below (there might not be a doily, but it’s a nod to an old-fashioned sensibility), which I shot the following day.|
|Cocktails aren’t everything though. I had this perfectly delicious and refreshing non-alcoholic sparkling Jasmine tea on a recent outing to Crown and Crumpet. It’s become my new favorite hostess gift! So, if you’d like a bottle of your own, invite me over for a homecooked meal—I promise not to judge it by its looks.|
Monday, February 9
Of course, I’m always on the lookout for innovative food presentation. I lucked out a few months back at a moment when I was in dire need of some inspiration. I had somewhat reluctantly accepted an invitation from the Food Network to participate in their first-ever challenge for food stylists and I knew ahead of time one part of the competition would be to create a banana split using fake ice cream.
On the eve of my departure for the competition, I had dinner at Conduit restaurant. I’d been pondering the presentation of the banana split and figured out all but one aspect of it—what to do with the banana (I know, it sounds ridiculous!) When it came time for dessert, I spied an ice cream sundae on Conduit’s menu. Given the beautiful plating of the savory dishes, I figured it’d be worth taking a gander to just see if maybe the sundae could offer some inspiration. Although there weren’t any bananas involved, my inspiration arrived in a pair of little wafer cookies planted in the back like criss-crossed bunny ears. It was one of those cartoon light bulb moments. I’d found it!
Not only did Conduit help me win the banana split part of the competition, I saw that one of my fellow competitors continued the homage by using—ahem—‘similar’ styling for a sundae in a recent magazine spread. I hear imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so thanks, my friend! And I’m grateful to the kitchen at Conduit for letting me get some sleep that night and for continuing to inspire me every time I stop in. (The fish and chips plating the other night was brilliant!)
What else has inspired me lately? The salumi cone at Boccalone. I guarantee someday that playful idea will percolate into something fun.
Banana split from the Food Network Challenge, Photographer: Frances Janisch; Conduit Sundae; Salumi cone from Boccalone.This is the first part of my series of guest food blog posts on 7x7.