Monday, April 23, 2007

I (heart) Eggs

When Jennifer and Mat suggested we take off to Mar Vista last November when I was tired from teaching, starting to get ill, and wanting and Thanksgiving Break get-away, I had no idea what we were getting into. Having grown up in the Berkshires, the idea of coastal mountains on the coast was intriguing, as well as getting rid of the phone and computer for the weekend. We packed our bags, prepared to cook for two days, and prayed for one thing more than kale in the garden.

We arrived there with Liam green from driving up the 1 and me singing 'Don't Go Back to Rockville' on repeat 8 times to dissuade my own brain from motion sickness. When the proprieter offered us fresh eggs, I don't know how else to describe it except to say, it was a turning point. I'm a sucker for a hip, simple pallette and natural aesthetic - and these eggs were with me 100%. To begin to describe the colors would be an injustice to the hens. Blue, gray, beige, tan, cream, ivory. Liam fried them up in a cast iron pan and we toasted some oatmeal whole wheat bread I obsessed over last fall. I fell in love immediately (yes, with Liam, but more so, with the eggs). The eggs had the brilliant orange hue of free range, mist-fed hens. Their taste, was so incredibly 'egg-y' but in a way that would reform the most serious anti-egg-head.

I retell this anecdote to say how thrilled I was to hear from Jasmine, messenger of all things fantastic about food in the East Bay, that Riverdog Farms was selling a dozen farm fresh eggs for $6 at the Saturday Berkeley Farmer's Market. Obsessed as I am, I was running into the market at 10:10 (Jasmine said they sell out!) saying, 'I heard a rumor you have eggs,' at which point the guy pointed to the front. Enthusiasm un-matched, I shelled out my $6, picked up some new peas and golden beets, swung by La Farine for some rustic baguettes (which we missed), and came home for Liam to fry these up in our own cast iron pan. See the beauties above, and help me not hoard them so long their freshness withers as I determine ice cream? Meringue? Batter for Marcella's cauliflower with parmigiano-reggiano batter? It's hard to figure out how to showcase these babies best.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

ice cream wars

Jasmine wanted to make salted caramel ice cream, and I had this Recchuiti cookbook from my sister, so I decided on burnt caramel. A week later, for a dinner club theme that I created - gussied up comfort food - and in response to pleasing Liam (he didn't ask, but I thought it was perfect), I also made cinnamon toast ice cream (picture to the left).
There was something about both of these ice creams that made others adore them, and oddly enough, left them in my freezer for a week (this doesn't happen with meyer lemon ice cream). The burnt caramel, as forewarned by Recchiutti himself, was incredibly soft. Jasmine and I decided the texture was nice, but even after a full freeze and days in the freezer, the stuff stayed soft as cream almost. The cinnamon toast ice cream, which inspired oohs and ahhs at the dinner club table, was almost more work for me than I wanted. The flavor is simply incredible, that's for sure, with a deep toasty essence (due to the toasting of bread crumbs, soaking them in the 2x boiled cinnamon milk and then pressing them out to contribute to the base) and truly crunchy toasts throughout. The reviews said it took 2 hours, and it did, and it might be because I was on the phone for the first hour and had to go back to instructions multiple times because they were unfamiliar to me, but I wasn't sure I'd make it again.
Either way, I am almost comforted by my blase response to Rebecca saying, 'you should open up a restaurant' ... perhaps ice cream parlor is not my way to go, but once I conquer olive oil gelato I'm ready to be the fill in pastry chef at a restaurant ... and you think I'm kidding ....