Monday, August 30, 2010

Thanks for breakfast

I love breakfast foods. There's something so incredibly comforting about breakfast foods. Although I suppose I love MORE the homemade pancakes, waffles, Dutch babies, croissants, bagels, French Toast, scones, blueberry muffins, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, crepes, hot cereal and Danishes we'd get on weekend mornings growing up, as opposed to the cold cereal we'd get on weekdays. My mom has a very simple French Toast she's done for as long as I can remember. Just white bread plunged in beaten egg, lightly fried in butter and eaten with lemon juice and powdered sugar. Yum.

Well this isn't that recipe...

Mom and I do "Girls' Weekends". If you've been reading for a while, I think you know this. The first of these was while I was in college and reasonable driving distance to Santa Barbara. We fell in love with the Bath Street Inn and even returned there a year or two later. The folks at Bath Street are/were FANTASTIC cooks (it was quite a few years ago - but I must assume they still are!) This is partly why we returned. Santa Barbara's not too shabby either... The inn is an old Victorian with all the charm one expects from a B&B. I love all those little nooks you can find to hide out in and read a book. And best of all - it's about a mile walk to the gorgeous downtown shops and restaurants one imagines when they think of Santa Barbara.

Crumbled butter, sugar and nuts ~~ Drizzled with [real] maple syrup

I like my bread slices a tad wider so I cut on a bit of a diagonal

Of course there are breakfasts. Unbelievable breakfasts! We'd wake up each morning wondering what we were going to get that day and LOVED the anticipation of knowing it'd be mouthwatering. Two recipes we happily trotted away with were for their scones and their Baked French Toast. I love when B&Bs not only prepare scrumptious food, but have recipes printed up and ready to share with their guests when asked. Fabulous of you Bath Street!!

As it sits overnight a lot of that egg will be absorbed into the bread

In the morning - they're like sponges!

I don't very often make the Baked French Toast. Not 'cuz it's not ridiculously heavenly, but because it contains scary amounts of sugar, eggs, butter and carbs. However, this past weekend the gloves came off. I ran 10 miles on Saturday. Now that's no feat compared to my marathon-training buds running 16+. But it's still a friggin' lot. I decided Sunday morning I could consume a bit lot of sugar, eggs, butter and carbs.

Coming out of the oven all bubbly and delicious smelling!

Is that a cinnamon bun or a piece of baked French toast?

Ohhhh... breakfast comfort food. Why is there so often so much *bad stuff* in comfort food? Seriously - is the word "salad" in anyone's definition of comfort food? Not unless you're a huge, weird freak! So needless to say, the Baked French Toast was a hit this weekend. I think it comforted all who partook. And even drove some to seconds. Thank you Bath Street Inn!

It really didn't take long...

Bath Street Inn's Baked French Toast c. 1998

6-8 tablespoons butter (salted/unsalted - not a big diff)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ground nuts
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 loaf of French bread cut into 1-1/2" slices
8 eggs
1 cup milk

*Note: the overall recipe came from Bath Street, but I have reduced the amounts of butter, sugar and maple syrup

Cut the first 3 ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over a 9x13 dish. Drizzle with maple syrup. Place the bread over the syrup. Beat eggs with the milk and pour over. Press the bread down to help absorb the egg. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake covered for 35-50 minutes in a 325° oven until it's bubbling. Serve upside down.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Pilgrimage

I know, I know, I know... it's been a LONG time. I've actually never let this much time lapse on my blog. Even when things were really rough, or I was out of the country, or it was the holidays, or I was housetraining a puppy. I know. I really can't believe it myself. AND - I have NO good excuses. I know.

Someone told me Snoqualmie Falls is the #1 destination
for tourists in Washington state!

Yes, I've been busy. I flew 12 times from March-July. And being single now, I'm honestly not cooking or baking that much. Cooking/Baking for one = more food than necessary = weight gain. I have the pounds to prove it. Instead, I've been running. A good trade-off, yes? I'm training for the Nike Women's [Half] Marathon in San Francisco in October. (instead of a medal, we get Tiffany necklaces - YES!!). But I don't think you want to read a blog post about my running.

That would mean this place is NOT the #1 WA tourist destination!

SOoooo what to blog about? Well I *have* been traveling. So this blog entry is going to be about my latest trip, to Seattle. It was actually more to Bellevue, but I flew into SEA so I'm calling this my Seattle entry (you know it's not like you say "I'm going to Anaheim for the weekend!", you'd exclaim that you're going to LA... At least I would.)

The happy new Mr. & Mrs.!!

I was in Seat...err... Bellevue a few weeks ago for my little baby cousin's wedding. You really start to feel old when a kid whose diapers you changed gets married. But that's a separate story.


I could probably do that for hours, literally

Scottie married Michelle in a GORGEOUS ceremony and reception at the Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Club. It was gorgeous. Gorgeous. Greens as far as one could see and a backdrop of Mount Si looming in the distance. I was there for the rehearsal which was full of harsh lighting and gawd-awful shadows. But Mother Nature was oh-so-kind to them on their wedding day and threw up her natural light diffuser: overcast, but no rain. Gorgeous.

Congratulations to Scott & Michelle!

I stayed in Bellevue and took a couple trips to Seattle but way MORE trips out to the Snoqualmie area. It's seriously a beautiful place, this "Seattle". I've been a few times in my life but appreciate it more as I get older. The hills are green, the weather is kind (if you love overcast like I!), the people are intelligent and the views are just lovely wherever you are.

Forget about Starbucks... Cooks come to Pike Place
Market to visit the very first Sur la Table!

Farmer's Market even in the cold and dreariness

Since I'm fundamentally a "food blogger" I will next talk about food. Because really - that's all you want to hear about, yes? Let's talk about foods one will travel long distances for. Like the Cuban Roast sandwich at Paseo in Fremont. Rarely have I seen a restaurant with close to 1000 yelp reviews *still* averaging 4.5 stars. Paseo does. This particular sandwich also won Esquire Magazine's "Best Cuban Sandwich in the US" award in 2008. And let's not forget that Scott & Michelle have been telling me to go there since perhaps the night I met Michelle. "Hi, I'm Michelle! So you're a big food person too? Ok, well I grew up in Seattle and you HAVE to try this sandwich..." (kidding). I knew it would be a stop on my next visit. And fortunately, a lot of my family shared my passion.

My cousin Ron is such a REBEL! ~~ The line at [the first] SB at 10am

The first Starbucks has a completely different logo that
just didn't translate well worldwide for perhaps a few reasons...

Schwag, schwag, schwag...

Our pilgrimage began late on a cold, Saturday morning. Did I care that this was wedding day? Nope. The #2 with a side of corn was calling and nothing was stopping me. I'd spent the morning at Pike Place Market (yes it is PIKE Place. Pike does not own this market, therefore there is no apostrophe-ess). I revisited the obligatory First-Starbucks and First-Sur la Table. I gazed at all the lovely produce and flowers, but eh - we grow this stuff and more in California. So really, I was there in person but not so much in spirit; I was waiting to get to Paseo.

In the seconds following, my auntie booked it around the
corner with my cousin's takeout (while he took our picture in line)
....Just Kidding

Just in case newbs aren't aware of THE sandwich...
It apparently
is "as seen on TV"

Some of my family arrived at Paseo early, around 11:30 and didn't have to wait very long at all. My group dawdled a bit so we didn't arrive until noon but the wait was long worth it. We were patient. We didn't complain. We waited our turn. We knew what we wanted when we got to the counter. We paid cash. We chuckled at the plastic Chinese dishes. We got it To-Go. We knew our group of ~10 wasn't going to fit in the minuscule restaurant so we planned a meeting spot at Woodland Park to eat. Would it have been rude to wolf my sandwich down in the passenger seat of the car as my cousin drove to the park? I decided yes and managed to control myself.

No sign. No identification. Just a line.

My Chinese family was tickled over these plastic "Chinese" dishes

Upon arriving at the park, I barely remember greeting another cousin who had flown in from Melbourne, Australia (I hadn't seen her in about 8 months). I just wanted to get to the table to eat my sandwich (kidding, Court!)

♪ And the angels did sing... ♫

Bucket List item #6,251,527 - Check.

So there, upon a small rustic picnic table on the north end of Woodland Park in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, I opened my Paseo Cuban Roast Sandwich and spent a few moments in messy, saucy heaven. It's not so often a food really lives up to its hype. But seriously - this did. Even in its To-Go version. The generous portion of pork was tender and saucy and slightly sweet. The grilled onions soft and flavorful but not mushy. The BREAD. Ohhh.... the bread. Crunchy but not where it tears up the roof of your mouth. Light on the inside. Delicious. The corn was good - but not obligatory. I think it was roasted with garlic butter (probably better hot). I ate the entire thing. I probably could have downed a second sandwich, but I *did* have a wedding that night (and a dress to put on). Thank you Paseo for fulfilling my life...
**Please note: The previous 4 paragraphs are a bit of a dramatization. But just a bit.**

Next, my ginormous family besieged Cafe Besalu in the Ballard

Ginger scone, pain au chocolat and pear tarte: wonderful!

There's another Paseo location in the Ballard neighborhood that has less of a wait and more parking, but I'm one of those purist folks. So if it's possible, I always prefer the original. Another cousin ate her Roast Cuban in the Ballard though, and deemed it fantastic - so it's really your call. We all met up with this cousin and her friends after our picnic in the park, to try Honore Artisan Bakery's French macarons. But were so saddened to find they were ON VACATION!!! There were literally 14 of us standing in front of this tiny bakery on a quiet street, wondering what to do next. It would need to include food, 'cuz that's the kind of family we are.

We were literally sitting on top of each other. I ♥ my family!

So my cousin's friends (who live in Ballard) led our expedition to Cafe Besalu for French pastries. Pear tartes, nectarine danishes, ginger scones, pain au chocolat, apricot brioche with frangipane. No macs, but not too shabby. Cafe Besalu was not a large place and somehow the 14 of us managed to squeeze into the front window area. Good thing we're a close family. The pastries were legit. No joke. And we had a blast. It's hard not to have a blast with my family. I'm not sure you need to pilgrimage to Cafe Besalu like I'd recommend for Paseo, but if you're in the neighborhood - it's worth a stop for pâtisserie et café.

Gazing upon Seattle from across Puget Sound

I happened to visit the falls on two different days:
a sunny, and an overcast...

This visit to Seattle was lovely. Truly lovely. I suppose it depends on your own personal aesthetic but I might almost venture to say that the Seattle area could be more lovely than the SF Bay Area. ALMOST.

All the women in my family who traveled up for the wedding

In total there were 40-some California relatives who traveled to Seattle for some fantastic sightseeing, food and family. We came, we saw, we loved, we laughed, we cried. And we ate Paseo's sandwiches. I really can't wait to go back and am glad I have my cousins there as such a great excuse to visit Paseo.