My Favorite Things July 2014

IMG_5271I can’t believe it’s already August. I’m actually a little bummed about it — especially today as I sit in my apartment and stare out the window at the fog. Why does winter drag on and on and on and summer flies by in a matter of minutes?! July certainly was a whirlwind of fun and travel; I wasn’t really in San Francisco very much on the weekends which is how I plan to spend August. I like to take my Augusts off, like a European, and work as little as possible. It’s the best time of year, so why not enjoy it?! But before I can dive in, let’s look back at my favorite things for the past thirty-one days.

IMG_5099Red fruit star pie. For the 4th of July, my friend, Laura, and I made the most beautiful and delicious pie. I used Martha Stewart’s classic pate brisee recipe and made a simple filling of strawberries, raspberries, and cherries. While I was fretting about what the topping should be, Laura suggested stars! The rest is history and now I want to make a star pie every year on the 4th.

IMG_5179Southern California. I jetted down to San Diego the second weekend of July and to Los Angeles the fourth weekend. I love SoCal and it was so wonderful to catch up with some of my best friends who live by the beach. Barbecues, pool parties, rooftop bars, leisurely dinners — both weekends we filled with sun-soaked fabulousness.

IMG_5196The free book wall in Carlsbad. One of the days I was in San Diego, I was walking to a nearby cafe and stumbled upon the most amazing wall of free books. I noticed it from afar and thought maybe it was a poster of books, but as I walked over to investigate, I saw it was, in fact, a free book wall. I took a book and was saddened that I didn’t have one to leave, but plan on dropping one off the next time I’m down there. It was in the parking lot of a Taco Bell and I couldn’t help but wonder how much better the world would be if every Taco Bell parking lot had a wall of free books?!

IMG_5223The mussels at Gaspar Brassiere. The latest restaurant from Franck LeClerc (he’s the owner of Claudine, Cafe Claude, and Gitane) is a sexy French bistro with lovely Champagne cocktails and upscale classics like smoked salmon crepes with salmon caviar and grilled steak with white bordelaise sauce. The one dish that I can’t stop thinking about, however, is the moules a la biere. They come in an incredible sauce with creme fraiche, grainy mustard, leeks, and tons of herbs. I wanted to pick up the bowl and drink the broth after we had finished all of the plump mussels. The sauce was that good. I’m dying to go back. Who wants to come with me?

IMG_5247The barrel-aged cocktails at Blackbird. I’ve loved the bar Blackbird since it opened, so I was excited to be invited to its five-year anniversary party. At the event, the staff was pouring a selection of barrel-aged cocktails that the bartenders had put in barrels five years earlier when the bar first opened. Aged cocktails are having a moment and the ones at Blackbird were phenomenal. A mixture of tequila, mezcal, curaçao, and bitters, the Adios My Friend looked like rose, but tasted like nothing I’ve ever sipped before. It was boozy, fragrant, complex and perfectly balanced. Cheers to five more years at Blackbird!

IMG_5286The printed wallpaper at the Warwick Hotel. I don’t really know what this print is called, but it was all over the recently opened Warwick Hotel in downtown San Francisco. I’m going to research it and maybe get some pillows in the print for my couch.

IMG_5298Spice-rubbed grilled filet. An outdoor dinner with visiting family calls for a celebratory cut of meat and last Wednesday, when my aunt and cousin were in town from Texas, we made this steak. I was going to make an herb butter to rub on the outside of the meat before grilling it, but when I realized my grandfather had no fresh herbs or garlic in his kitchen, I had to get creative. I could not recreate the rub as I threw a bunch of spices into a bowl and was chatting with my cousin while sipping his stellar margarita, but the steak was so scrumptious there was none left. It also reminded me that it’s nice sometimes to not have to scribble a recipe and take a bunch of photos of the finished dish, but instead to simply enjoy the process, food, and company.

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