Category Archives: Lifestyle

Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko

My father has a fascination with Japan that is ongoing.  When I was around the age of six it was at a peak.  He would take me to Little Tokyo in L.A. to buy obscene amounts of origami paper and instruction books.  Then we would eat a Japanese lunch and drive back to Hollywood.  I was a very accomplished origamist and quickly became a little Japanophile myself.  I read Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, mourned Hiroshima, and eagerly awaited my father’s return from trips to Japan with his arms full of Japanese silks and Geisha dolls.

geisha

During those years my father would take me and my family to his Japanese friends’ homes in Los Angeles for Japanese New Year, celebrated on January 1.  The Japanese New Year feast is composed of foods referred to as osechi.  My father would tell me that if I ate everything and was very polite and respectful that he would take me with him on one of his trips to Japan.  I was not a fearful eater and ate many different types of foods from a young age, but swallowing some of the more foreign elements of osechi (bitter orange or bitter melon, roes of various sorts) was a feat even for me.  

Years went by, and my father continued to travel to Japan from time to time, but tickets were expensive, my prep school schedule was demanding, and despite all my good eating of osechi, the trip to Japan never materialized.  

Two years ago I went to Belize and got engaged.  The engagement was long coming, and we weren’t going to wait.  The marriage would take place within six months.

When I got back to the Bay Area my parents were there waiting to greet my new fiance and me.  My father greeted me with two business class tickets to Tokyo for him and me.  It was August, so no Japanese New Year in Japan, but it would do.  

This year my husband and I are celebrating Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko, the fledging catering company from Chez Panisse alum Sylvan Mishima Brackett.  Our bento will include Crab Namasu: Vinegared daikon and carrot with steamed Dungeness crab, Misozuke Beef Tataki: Miso-cured grassfed tenderloin, Datemaki: Sweet rolled omelet with Riverdog Farm eggs and local rockcod for wisdom in the New Year, Yuzu Pickled Turnips, Kuromame: Sweetened black soybeans for health in the New Year, Chikuzen-Ni: Local taro, carrot, potato, and shitake with lotus root and Mary’s organic chicken, Kombu-Maki: Sardines rolled Hokkaido kombu for happiness in the New Year, and Black Cod Teriyaki: Marinated and grilled Bolinas black cod.  

osechi-flier

We are lucky to have relished Brackett’s creations before (click here for that menu).  The fried eggplant was sweet and tender and the summer tomatoes offered the perfect clean refreshment.  My mouth is watering just imagining the flavors our oseshi bento will offer.

I’m hoping this beautiful gastronomic experience will set the tone for my eating for all of 2009.  And as if that weren’t enough, A Rockridge Life is desperate to see Peko-Peko expand: how about a storefront on College Avenue?  Pretty please?  

kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu (今年もよろしくお願いします) 

I hope for your favour again in the coming year

Click here for more information on Brackett and Peko-Peko.

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Filed under Autobiography and Memoir, Gastronomia, Lifestyle

Christmas Feast Menu

At the cabin in Nevada City we are having:

Hors d’ouevres:

Humboldt Fog, Brillat Saverin, and a well-aged Gouda.  Duck mousse and Port wine pate, cornichons, kalamata olives, and dry-cured Greek olives.  Homemade pickles by Rimpletide.  

Feast:

Roast Primed Rib Au Poivre  (modified: lacerated four times per rib and inserted a laterally sliced clove of garlic into top layer of fat) with horseradish cream accompaniment, Yorkshire Pudding (it isn’t Christmas at my house without it), Mustard-Roasted Potatoes (modified: substituted thyme for oregano), Haricots Verts with Caramelized Shallots, and *Candied Carrots.

Dessert:

Christmas Pudding  (beautiful store-bought) and Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies.

*whole carrots, scrubbed and trimmed.  Placed in a glass baking dish with drizzle of honey, cognac, and nutmeg.  Roasted at 375 20 minutes. 

Pictures to come.

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping

I was so relieved that my family finally decided to do Secret Santa this year.  I’m not a fan of Christmas shopping, and although I was blessed with a lot of toys and fabulous gifts as a child, I come from a religious Christian family where the focus actually was more on the Advent Wreath than counting down the shopping days.  

For the third year in a row I’ve considered banning myself from buying ANY Christmas presents, sort of in an anti-materialist protest.  But there’s a catch: I have a large family of in-laws who get me tons of gifts.  I haven’t figured out how to navigate this yet, all I know is that not getting them anything makes me feel like a giant schmuck. 

Ergo, last minute Christmas shopping.  Oy ve.  

Determined not to be oppressed by big box stores and the like, I’m grabbing some reusable bags and heading up to College Avenue (I know, I sound so effing Oaklandish right now).  I’ll be finding little trinkets from my local businesses and business owners.  We Rockridgers just can’t get enough of mom and pop and small business.  Call us crazy.  

If you’re interested in following suit, I recommend checking this website if you are unfamiliar with the area.

I’ll be checking out: Market Hall and Pasta Shop, Maison D’etre, Bloomies Flowers, Bella Vita, Pendragon Books, Rockridge Home, The Alta Bates Showcase Thrift Shop, Diesel Books, Atomic Garden, Pretty Penny, Body Time, Crossroads Vintage, and Recapture.  Find more info on these shops here.

I might also cruise Telegraph (the “Temescal” district) for Scout Home Hardware and Sagrada Sacred Arts.

Ho ho ho.

diesel_books_largejpg

Diesel Books really soothes me. 

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A Real Treat

Begonia Colomar has agreed to contribute her culinary talents to A Rockridge Life.  Ms. Colomar was raised in the Basque country of Spain.  Her nuanced palate, which she cultivated in the Spanish countryside of her childhood, is obvious in the impeccable flavors she is able conjure with fresh, everyday ingredients.  We can’t all sit down at her table each night, but we may now strive to replicate such an experience in our own homes through her thoughtful recipes.  Without further ado, I present Ms. Colomar:

Galloping Flavours: Braised Pork Chop with Saffron Chorizo Orzo and  Onion Marmalade

by Begonia Colomar

Serves 2 (lovers)

Ingredients:  

two 1″ cut  Pork Chops

For the Rub:  

1   tsp  whole coriander

1/2 tsp  whole white pepper

1/4 tsp  whole fenugreek

1/4 tsp  whole cumin

1/2 tsp  smoked paprika

Preparation:  

Bring pork chops to room temp approximately 20 minutes prior to braising.  Generously salt them (Maldon is highly recommended).  Combine the herbs and spices and then grind them.  A spare or carefully cleaned coffee grinder can be used for this purpose.  A mortar and pestle works too but requires more elbow grease.  Pat the pork chops generously on both sides with the herb and spice rub.  Set the pork chops aside and keep at room temperature while preparing the marmalade.  

For the Onion Marmalade:

3 yellow onions /peeled,halved and sliced

1 shallot /peeled,halved and sliced

3 tbsp brown sugar

pinch freshly ground pepper

pinch salt

1/4 tsp dried tarragon

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preparation:

Heat oil and butter in a skillet.  Add the onions, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Cook on very high heat while stirring frequently for 5 minutes.  Add tarragon and continue to cook on high heat for an additional 5 minutes.  Do not allow onions to boil or burn. 

For the Orzo:

1 cup orzo

1/2 yellow onion /minced

1/2 leek/minced

1 garlic clove /minced

1/4 tsp Spanish saffron threads

3 cups vegetable stock

3 large whole sage leaves

2 inch cube Spanish chorizo halved and thinly sliced

1 tsp salt

olive oil

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Add a bit of olive oil, just enough to barely coat the pan (approximately 1/2 tbsp) to an oven-proof frying pan. Heat the oil until you see smoke forming.

Add the pork chops and sear 2 minutes per side on high heat.  Cover the pan with an oven-proof lid or tin foil and place in the oven.  Let the pork chops cook in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

While the pork chops are in the oven, heat the oil for the orzo in a medium size pot.  Add onions and leeks and cook on medium high heat until caramel color, then add garlic.  Add the orzo and saffron to the mix and stir constantly for approximately 2 minutes.

Add the stock and salt and let simmer at medium high heat for 10 -12 minutes or until the orzo has absorbed the stock and has a creamy texture. 

While the orzo is cooking remove the pork chops from the oven and let sit, still covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Keep stirring the orzo.  When the stock has been completely absorbed, add the sage and chorizo.  Turn off the heat, and serve the orzo very hot.  

Place the pork chops atop the hot orzo, and spoon the onion marmalade on the side.

This meal will pair deliciously with a full-bodied Chardonnay.

Buen Apetito!!

begoniarecipepic

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Interesting Weather Part II

Rockridge, 3PM

hail

Enough hail to turn the ground white underneath the pine tree. The hail is also visible in the foreground on the bench of my deck. In the upper left corner is a glimpse of my Japanese Maple on fire.

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Filed under Autobiography and Memoir, Lifestyle