Tag Archives: Market Hall

Color, more Sweet Peas, Scent


These tulips are HUGE!  And very open.  All of these flowers were a gift from my former employer at Bloomie’s up the street at Market Hall.  She said she bought the sweet peas just for their scent, because these bunches were especially fragrant.  They are so amazing!  So often you can barely smell the sweet peas that come out of florists, but not these; I feel like I’m smelling sweet peas for the first time!  

When I got them home I left each flower grouped in the bunch it came in because I love the strong color blocks–and I showed off the deep green of the smooth leaves and stems of the tulip with a tall clear mason jar.  

The scent revelation that these sweet peas sent me on led me to realize that the Soy Face Cream by Fresh that I sampled from Sephora (and couldn’t stomach the $42 for 1 oz.) and have been scraping from the bottom of my sample actually smells literally of sweet peas.  Sorry Fresh I don’t know where you got that soy scent, smells like sweet peas to me, but either way I’ll take it!  I might actually have to throw down the $42.  It’s just that good.

soyActual size of sample container.  Note emptiness.



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Daffodil Redux

I have to admit I was pretty excited about this.  Synchronically, my good friend Mary brought this beautiful bouquet over for my mother, who is visiting from out of town:


The bouquet was arranged by Bloomies up the street at Market Hall.  Didn’t they do a beautiful job?  The roses are “fragrant fantasy”–they smell soooo good!

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Bulgogi Update

I went with the recipe from epicurious.com and it turned out great.  


I have to confess my meal lacked kimchi.  I didn’t make it down to Koreana Plaza on Telegraph in time.  I’ve never been, but supposedly Koreana (formerly Pusan Market) is the place to go for all your Korean specialty food needs.  Still, my bulgogi was a hit.  I splurged and got expensive ribeye from Enzo’s, and had them do the extra-thin-slicing there.  My knife skills are still at the amateur level. 

I did the table up with the “good” china, silver, crystal, candles, and surprise balls from Tail of the Yak, but none of the pictures turned out well.  I think I had the ISO turned all the way up, because they look grainy ???  Here’s the only one that looks any good:



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Amazing Cheese

Last night I stopped by the cheese counter at Market Hall’s Pasta shop looking for some Fleur Verte (a/k/a raison d’etre de Rockridge) and they were OUT.  Naturally I was devastated.  But my kind friend behind the counter suggested that I sample something new that had come in–the new robiola made by La Casera.  Phenomenal.  And he was proud to report that it had just been featured in the New York Times!

This goat cheese is exactly what I’ve been looking for a soft, creamy, complex goat that is magically both tangy and sweet.

Fleur Verte will always be my true love, and one of the most visually stunning cheeses (pure white goat’s milk coated in tarragon and pink peppercorns from the Loire Valley):


but the robiola from La Casera is nothing to turn up your nose at:

04cabbage_650I think the savoy cabbage fastened and rafia tie gives it a distinctly Piedmont-ian feel.  The robiola just might become a new constant in ARL. It’ll be perfect for hors d’oevres while I’ll set my FV aside for breakfast and dessert.


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Special for Me

In the tradition of my dinner-for-one posts, here is the special meal I made for me last night.

Sea Scallops with Cilantro Gremolata and Ginger Lime Beurre Blanc from Gourmet, February 2002

I cut the recipe down to three scallops (purchased at the fine Hapuku Fish Shop), took out my “good” china (Haviland) and served the scallops on a bed of frisee.


I had an unseasonal yet delicious bottle of mildly sparkling Spanish white with dinner (strong enough to hold up to the ginger and cilantro flavors).  It is called Vi D’Agulla:

…a charming and slightly frizzante wine from the Penedes region of Spain located just outside of Barcelona.  Its name means “wine with a prickle” and is intended as a summer thirst quencher.


Other notes: this recipe is super easy, and you can up the healthiness factor by going light on the beurre blanc, as I did.

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping Part II

I had some good luck.  Santa was on my side.  Now allow me to make some recommendations.  Most gifts are in the $20 range.

For the lazy gourmand:  Truffle salt, in 5 and 10% truffle content.  $20-$30 at Pasta Shop.  Amazing on pasta, french fries, or any vegetable.  Who needs to cook?

For anyone who loves Paris, tea, or both: Pasta Shop has an excellent selection of Mariages Freres tea.  I picked up the Provence Green ($22.50) for my sister in law who lived in Kyoto and speaks French.  Porquoi pas?!


For book lovers: Diesel does soothe, but Pendragon is the place to go if you’re looking to save some dollars to keep food on the table in the new year.  They have some AMAZING deals right now.  Tons of new Taschen coffee table books (Atget, Doisneau, etc.) on sale for less than $10 (!!!).  I got my aunt- and uncle-in-law Art of the 20th Century, also published by Taschen.  So beautiful.  I found it in the used section a month ago and have been lusting over it.  It’s almost impossible to even tell that it is “used,” and priced at $50.  



For a good laugh: I’ve never had success at Rockridge Home, but I have to give it to them.  That place is banging for the holidays.  The price is right and options abound, so much so they get their own section.

The “NPR Map of the United States” is amazing for the liberal Rockridge/Berkeley business traveler in your life.  Maps local AM/FM NPR channels across the US.  

For the Catholic grandfather who has done it all I suggest the How to be Pope book.  

For the miscellaneous and omnipresent oppressed woman in a committed relationship with a messy man: I suggest Porn For Women now available in the XXX version.   

I picked up the necktie napkins for my adorable MBA holding brother-in-law who can’t get through a meal, much less a business meeting, without spilling on himself.



For the girls who work too hard and just want to have fun:  I picked up $20 gift certificates at Pretty Penny and Crush on College.  Pretty Penny has an AMAZING selection of vintage shoes, denim, and (just for the season) gold lame and sparkly dresses.  It’s a brilliantly styled place AND the accessories are phenomenal.  Prices are gentle too.  Crush on College was the perfect place for my high school-age cousin-in-law who digs fresh styles at low prices and hasn’t gotten into the vintage thing.  

prettyThe Pretty Penny window

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Huffington, Stewart, Obama, Chili

Last Monday on my Virgin America flight JFK->SFO I watched Arianna Huffington embarrass the entire blogosphere on John Stewart:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Friday night rolled around and I’d invited some people over for drinks. Never one to open the door without something scrumptious to offer, and knowing I. and I needed dinner ourselves, I set about the habitual and lengthy debate about what to cook. I was desperate for some cassoulet, but it was absolutely out of the question. Duck confit and a 3 to 48 hour cooking process was just not going down that night.

So I thought soup, bean soup? Chili? Lentil? Rimpletide tried to get me to make Turkey Chipotle Chili, which I was totally into until I got to Market Hall and realized I needed 2 lbs (!) of tomatillos. Do you understand how many tomatillos that is? All of a sudden I started reading the recipe more carefully–what kind of chili was this? GREEN? No, I was feeling like a red-blooded American on Friday and wasn’t about to get down with some soupy-green-tomatillo based fusion fare. Disaster! The guests would arrive in less than 2 hours!

Standing at the Produce Market at Market Hall I started to panic and wildly Googled chili recipes from my iPhone. My search terms were “chili recipe.” I didn’t trust what I saw on page one of the results, so I went to page two. There, at the top of the second page of search results was Obama’s Chili Recipe, courtesy of none other than the Huffington Post. The rich bitch saved the day after all!

I went for ground Turkey instead of beef for reasons of health and got a deal at Enzo’s because the guy recognized me from my days at Bloomies. I didn’t need many ingredients, so I grabbed two bottles at Paul Marcus (a brilliant $14 Barbera among them from the Bargain Red section), grabbed two sweet Acme baguettes, a wedge of D’Affinois (available by mail from Murray’s if your and outside of the Bay reader), and a creme-based French goat from Pasta Shop and I was on my way home.

I made Obama’s recipe but had to make a few adjustments. If I’d stuck to the recipe I think the chili would have been quite dry, with hardly any broth element. My results were still thick and viscous but I added 3/4 cup dry red wine and 1 cup chicken stock.  To slightly modify Obama’s selection of flavors I doubled the basil and oregano, added 3 bay leaves, and used 2 tablespoons minced Anaheim chile (long and thin, can be found in green or red).

The results were a hit. I would say that the wine and additional basil and oregano gave it a slightly more Euro twist, while the Anaheim chile gave it an unexpected kick.

It was quick and easy for a hearty crowd-pleasing dinner after a long week. Highly recommended.

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