Thursday, October 16, 2008

San Francisco Days

Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Ricotta, Pancetta and Heirloom Sun Dried Tomatoes with Opal Basil Pesto and Farmers Market Greens

Pork Tenderloin rubbed with Marjoram and Savory with Brandied Chanterelle Mushrooms, Roasted Victoria Farmers Market Pine Mushrooms and Braised Romano Beans

Crème Fraiche Ice Cream with Port Poached Figs

If someone had told me five years ago that I’d pass underneath the Golden Gate Bridge by way of Mega Yacht, returning to the place I grew up, as the kickoff to traveling around the world – I wouldn’t have believed them. But now, here I am, the wee-hours of dawn, looking out at a glassy ocean, reflecting a cloudless, tangerine sky. The Golden Gate Bridge towering in the distance, with only a few puffs of fog dissipating on the north side. A pod of short, fat, black and white spotted dolphins leap across the bow as if to welcome me home.

We cruise into the bay in Sausalito and through my galley window I see the house my mom used to live in up on a hill in the distance. I take breaks from rolling out pasta dough for butternut squash ravioli for another day, to stand out on deck and take it all in. After a cruise around Alcatraz, we head for Pier 38 where we’ll be tying up for a few days, waiting for a spot to open up in Sausalito. But Pier 38 is perfect for me, only a mile and a half from the bounty of the Ferry Terminal Farmers Market!

I have strict orders from Mrs. X; I have to investigate the farmers market ASAP! Hey, someone’s got to do it. “Captain, can I go ashore to provision?”, we haven’t been docked five minutes. “Sure”. I grab my cloth grocery bags, flip-flops, sunglasses and wallet and leap onto the dock. I’m outta here…

“Excuse me, do you know where the farmers market is from here?”, I say to the tan, sailor-ish looking man with the sun bleached hair and flip-flops walking up the dock. “Sure, turn right, it’s just down the road – probably a 10 minute walk. I’m heading in that direction, would you like a ride?”, he says as we approach his car, conveniently parked right at the end of the dock. “What, in that piece of crap?”, I look down at the red, convertible Lotus Elise – the top of the windshield is about knee height. And with the sun shining on my face and my hair tussled by the wind, we speed off. “Can I jump over the door like they do in Dukes of Hazard?”; I ask as we approach the farmers market, he shrugs, “sure”. God, sometimes I love being a girl. I opt for the more lady-like exit by door, because knowing me, I’d fall flat on my face and break my teeth and Lord knows, I just don’t have time to deal with that…

The market at the ferry terminal is bustling - stalls of Romano beans, heirloom tomatoes, opal basil, breads, organic meats and artisan cheese line the sidewalk. My first order of business is to pay a visit to Recchiuti Chocolate to pick up some samples for Mrs. X to see if we can use them as our pillow chocolates for the guest rooms on the yacht. Fleur de sel caramels, ginger hearts, Lemon-Verbena infused truffles. Yum, I think they’ll go over well. But I’ll have to sample a few more just to make sure. I stop by Scharffenberger as well for cocoa nibs and baking chocolate, and stroll through the produce stalls – my first finds are beautiful squash blossoms, perfect for stuffing for a starter, two fragrant musk melons, baby greens and fresh shell beans and some sun dried heirloom tomatoes – which I think will go into the stuffing for the blossoms as well. Saving room on my arms, I head back inside to Golden Gate Market, which has an impressive selection of organic and game meats. So, I stock up on elk, wild boar, organic lamb, organic beef tenderloin and pork. Loaded down by 40 lbs of wild animal, bags of veggies and chocolate – I make my way towards the exit – but the rosemary focaccia at ACME bakery has been calling to me every time I pass by their shop front. I have nowhere to put it. But I can’t resist, so I take two loaves and grip the paper bag between my teeth. With a bent back and arms loaded, I struggle to make my way to the curb to hail a taxi – but I manage. The taxi ride back to the yacht is not nearly as exciting as the ride in the Lotus, but then, I don’t think the Lotus has the trunk space for all my groceries. Hey, you know, who wants a car that can’t fit a case of wine and a few bags of groceries in it, anyway?

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