A Tour Down the Eaten Path

Foreign Cinema: Act 1

On Mission street, through an old set of theater doors, down a worn red carpet, you’ll find Foreign Cinema. Straight ahead from the hostess station, is a lovely enclosed courtyard. Off to the right is the indoor dining room, with 30 foot high ceilings, a rustic fireplace built for kings and at the back beneath rays of late afternoon light, a wall-to-wall well stocked bar. At dusk, foreign and independent films are screened on the white wash brick wall in the courtyard. Our reservation was early in the evening and unfortunately it meant missing the nights screening of The Royal Tenenbaums.

I feel awkward pulling out my camera in places like this one. Truth be told, I always feel awkward pulling my camera out. I also worry that it cheapens the overall experience, as though I’m not really in the moment, busy snapping away rather than simply soaking it up. Then again, each time I look at one of these photos, I recall the atmosphere, the flavors and the company. That and half of the people in there were snapping photos of each other and their food. We live in a world of constant documentation. Our meal at Garry Danko went undocumented due to the reasons listed previously. I’ll sum that experience up by letting you know that the dress code was elegant, so I wore white dress pants…on the bus…and it took all of 10 mins to get a dirt scrape down my knee ( I also overheard ‘her pants are so white, let’s smear her with something); I was asking for it. Then we ate so much that puking was almost a reality. We had a gift card and used the whole damn thing.

Back at Foreign Cinema, my sister and I enjoyed a glass of vino. We split two premier dishes; the ahi poke, Banyuls-soy ponzu, avocado, sweet potato crisps was beautifully tender yet meaty with a citrus undertone; the Mozzarella di burratta, nectarines, mint, toasted hazelnuts and olive oil was creamy, tart, refreshing and nutty, perhaps four of my favorite food attributes all in one.

These starters were as vibrant and attention grabbing as the group of girls dressed in full neon 80’s gear and tutus across the restaurant. I’m beginning to regret not having photographed the colorful people that played a role in my San Francisco experience.

To be continued…

~ Maggie

Photos by Maggie Murphy

When The Moon Hits Your Eye

So I didn’t get to Delfina, a highly recommended Italian and pizzeria joint in the Mission. I walked by it on my way to Tartine and once again after a huge meal; it was packed both times. It’ll have to marinate in my mind until the next trip.

I did however get to another pizza hot spot down in the Marina district called Delarosa. It would seem that there are places all over San Francisco serving up stellar pies. Delarosa is on my sisters’ list of regular eateries, with its long European style shared tables, open concept kitchen and industrial light fixtures. Her buddies did the ordering and we started with the meatballs in spicy marinara and broccolini with peperoncino & garlic. I like-a good-a meatball but I paced myself. The pizzas arrived with a few extra additions of gorgonzola and arugula, I’m not sure which pies we had specifically but it didn’t matter, they were crispy, salty, chewy and cheesy in all the right places. I washed it down with a few Salty Dogs fashioned out of vodka, elderflower, grapefruit and a flaked salt rim. Their cocktail menu was impressive; it would make for an adventurous boozey buffet if one were so inclined.

We continued the night a few doors down at the Tipsy Pig surrounded by a healthy dose of guys whose style choices were obviously influenced by Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles, complete with Wayfarer shades. Prepsters are alive and well and I couldn’t help but be impressed by their dedication to khakis and pastel dress shirts. Also, to the guy beside us on the match.com date, Dude…it was NOT going well. Ditch 75% of the high-fives and try again. Better luck next time.

~ Maggie

Photos by Maggie Murphy

Livin’ Like a Local in San Francisco

I arrived home from the Bay area a few days ago and my bags are still packed. I’ve never been a very good unpacker. The only items I’ve removed are the bottles of wine I had wrapped in leg warmers and a few food items. I’ll get to it.

My sister is the hostess with the mostess and I couldn’t have asked for a better pal to show me around. She brought me to some of her regular haunts, introduced me to her buddies and took the opportunity to do a few things that were a first for both of us. In just under a month she’ll be finished her masters and moving home; this past year has flown by. To say that I’m proud of her is an understatement. I continue to be impressed by her work ethic and ability to retain information that sounds like another language to me. 

One of the first food stops we made when I arrived in San Francisco was on Chestnut Street. I’m a sucker for a pretty package and reclaimed wood, so Blue Barn fits the bill. Using fresh, local, organic ingredients (which is considerably easier to do in SF’s geographical climate than my own), they toss up bright flavourful salads and farm fresh sandwhiches. It’s the kind of place where you expect to receive a photo and information pack about the individual chicken that gave its life to be your lunch.

On July 4th, my sister and I bussed through the Presidio toward the Marina district, picked up the outstanding Tostada Salad and Rooster Sando at Blue Barn then headed toward Chrissy Field. We enjoyed our picnic lunch with a bottle of Moscato, some of her closest pals and the rest of San Francisco. The sun shone, the kites flew, and later that night from the top of an old Victorian apartment building, we watched as fireworks lit up the entire city, illuminating us and thousands of San Franciscans camped out on their respective apartment buildings. Nothin’ beats livin’ like a local.

~ Maggie

Photos by Maggie Murphy

Spit That Pit

Spitting is generally considered poor manners, that is, unless it’s directed toward a bride in need of protection from evil spirits. Typically, the action of forcibly ejecting something from one’s mouth is a vulgar practice, but replace excess saliva with a cherry pit, watermelon seed or sunflower seed shell and a good spit is down right encouraged. It is a quintessential summer activity, closely tied to picnicking, playing ball and road trips.

I have no doubt that the pure, unadulterated joy I get as I launch a cherry pit into the wind, stems from a feeling of rebelliousness. I’m spitting AND I’m littering! I like it AND I am going to do it again! Clearly I live on the edge.

It’s almost as exciting as finding a bar that tells you to throw the peanut shells on the floor (“Can you believe they want us to just throw them on the floor?!! These guys are crazy, awesome. We are definitely coming back here”) or what I imagine it’s like for gents to pee outside into nature. Of course, the ‘pit/seed spitting loop hole’ allows for this type of rebellion, removing almost all anarchistic intent from such an action. 

The only way you’ll be spitting out these heavenly macaroons is a) you’ve already eaten 20 and you still want to taste them, so you chew, chew, chew, spit (ridiculous? yes. Have I done it? mm hmm) or 2) your name starts with a ‘K’ and you’re my coconut hating brother-in-law.

*These macaroons are lovely because they aren’t the sickly sweet kind and their chewy texture is addictive. They become even chewier a day or two after baking, if left in an unsealed container.

**Also, a conveniently red and white treat for you on this, the day of Canada’s birth. 

Dark Chocolate Cherry Macaroons

350g granulated sugar

400g unsweetened, grated coconut

45g white corn syrup

5g vanilla extract

21g pastry flour

2g salt

185g egg white

200g diced cherries

dark chocolate for drizzling

In a large metal bowl blend all ingredients together, except for the cherries. Place bowl over a boilng pot of water and constantly stir coconut mixture until the temperature reaches 120°F or 50°C. Fold in the diced cherries and place in the fridge to cool for at least an hour. This will make it easier to shape the macaroons.

When the macaroon mixture has cooled and firmed up, preheat the oven to 350°F. Shape the cherry macaroons into round balls, slightly over a tablespoon worth, and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the tops and bases are a golden brown. Be sure to rotate trays from top to bottom to ensure that they do not burn on the bottom.

Transfer macaroons to a rack and allow to fully cool.

Melt dark chocolate and drizzle over the top of each chewy cherry coconut ball. I used a paper parchment cone and they are quite easy to make.

Makes 40-45

Recipe adapted from Wayne Gisslen - Professional Baking

Photos by Maggie Murphy

The Meat of Any Relationship

This Sunday I’ll give my Dad a call to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. He’ll ask if Murph and I are having a nice day together, as Sunday also marks 7 years of marriage for us. When Dad gave me away in that wedding dress, I don’t think he anticipated occasionally having to share his Father’s Day. Sorry for the poor planning Pop, you’re still the first guy I ever loved with all my heart.

My Dad knows that I remain to this day, crazy about Murph. After almost a decade together, he also knows more importantly, that we’re great friends. See the thing about marriage or any good, long term partnership, is the friendship; friendship is the meat of it. Then there are the fixin’s; the late night kitchen dances, the same old jokes that I love and pretend to roll my eyes at, the laughing and the not-so-much laughing. All of those little things that seep into the in-between spots, the quiet times, the big moments, that over time flavour a relationship. Those fixin’s are the chimichurri to your flank steak love; the chipotle, lime, basil butter to your corn cob romance.

I don’t believe in giving marital advice because people come together for all kinds of reasons; each couple sets their own rules. That said, there isn’t enough chimichurri or fancy butter in the world to fix bad meat. So choose a nice piece of meat, one that can stand alone and the fixin’s will elevate it to more than you ever hoped it would be. Also, and this is not a metaphor, always use real butter.         

Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri

1 medium flank steak

sea salt

pepper, freshly ground

1 cup fresh Italian parsley

1/2 cup olive oil

4 Tbls red wine vinegar

juice of one lime

1/4 cup fresh cilantro 

1/4 cup fresh mint

2 large cloves garlic

3/4 tsp crushed red chili flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

Bring the flank steak out to room temperature and turn the bbq/grill up to a high heat. Let the steak and grill warm up while you prepare the chimichurri. 

Toss all herbs and spices into a food processor, excluding the olive oil. Pulse the ingredients as you pour the olive oil into the processor. Blend as much or as little as you like (you may prefer to leave large pieces of herbs). Set chimichurri aside to marinate and develop more flavour.

Season both sides of the flank steak with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The steak I used was about 1-1 1/2 inches thick, we grilled it over high heat for about 5-6 minutes per side and were happy with a medium-rare result. This will vary with your meat selection. Pull it off the grill and allow it to rest for 5-7 minutes before slicing against the grain on a diagonal. Serve topped with your homemade chimichurri.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups and keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks in a sealed jar.

* Great on tacos, eggs (any kind of protein really), and mixed in salads.

Sweet Corn with Chipotle Lime Basil Butter

Multiple cobs of sweet corn, husked

1 stick salted butter, room temperature

juice of 1 small lime

3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely diced

4 large basil leaves, finely chopped

Bring a large stock pot of water to boil. Toss in corn for 10 minutes. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine butter, lime juice, chipotle peppers and basil. 

Slather that butter over warm corn and dig in.

This butter will keep in the fridge for up to a few weeks. 

Recipes and photos by Maggie Murphy