Hello All! I’m sorry I’ve been missing from my blog for the last few weeks. It’s been a busy and exciting month. My art show opened last week (I’ll share more in a moment), my mom and sister visited, and immediately following their trip, two of my best friends from college came to stay with me. There’s been a lot of touring San Francisco and catching up to do, so I haven’t been able to squeeze in Illustrated Bites (I know… excuses, excuses.) All of that is a lot of fun, but I’m glad to be back on a normal schedule and regularly blogging again.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying experimenting with the new-to-me spice, star anise. Star anise has a wonderful licorice-y flavor that pairs well with tomato sauces, and is great for braising meats. It was once only common to eastern cooking and has medicinal uses in traditional Chinese medicine, where it’s used to aid digestion and as a warming herb. I was actually first introduced to the spice by a roommate that was studying to be an acupuncturist.
It has become more common in western kitchens as a substitute for anise. I really enjoy throwing a pod into boiling rice to add an unexpected flavor. I also really enjoyed this recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with star anise, from the Kitchn. The Kitchn has several other recipes featuring star anise that I’m looking forward to trying.
I know I’ve been writing a lot about my Illustrated Bites art show, but if you’ll bear with me once more, I would like to share some images of work from the show. I hope you enjoy seeing them, I sure had a great time putting it all together!
I’m very excited to announce the opening of the Illustrated Bites art show this Saturday at the Curiosity Shoppe on Valencia St. in San Francisco. If you’re in the Bay Area, please stop by and say hello! And yes, there will be snacks.
A simple treat that I’ve been enjoying a lot lately is figs with melted blue cheese, drizzled with honey. It’s a really quick and luxurious side dish or appetizer. Turn on the broiler in your oven and slice figs lengthwise. Place them in a baking dish face up and put a healthy slice of blue cheese on top. Put them in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese, it only takes about a minute. After the cheese is melted, remove them from the oven and drizzle with honey. It is a really fancy seeming dish that takes all of five minute to prepare. Go ahead, treat yourself!
1. The Berkeley Bowl: The most amazing produce section I’ve ever seen.
2. The Berkeley Bowl West
3. Tuesday Farmer’s Market: Located at Derby St. and MLK Jr. Way
4. Thrusday Farmer’s Market: All organic. Located at Vine st. and Shattuck Ave.
5. Saturday Farmer’s Market: Located at Center st. and MLK Jr. Way
6. Monterey Market
7. Chez Panisse: Founded by Alice Waters. Serves all local and organic food and started the California Cuisine Revolution.
8. Gregiore Restaurant: French-fusion take out, all organic and seasonal. Great for lunch!
9. The Cheese Board Collective: A worker owned business that is both a pizzeria and cheese store.
10. La Note: Amazing weekend brunch.
11. Thai Buddhist Temple: Thai brunch on sundays as a fundraiser for the temple.
12. Bette’s Oceanview Diner
13. The Albatross: Berkeley’s oldest pub. It’s super laid back and cozy.
14. The Missouri Lounge
15. Triple Rock Brewery: Awesome beers and tasty bites. Don’t miss Monkey Head night on Thursdays!
16. Jupiter: Handcrafted beers and wood-fired pizza. Enjoy both in their amazing beer garden.
21. The Edible Schoolyard: Founded by Alice Waters and located at MLK Jr. Middle School is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom.
22. Michael Pollan: Food author and professor at UC Berkeley.
Last week I spent an enjoyable afternoon helping out on an urban farm in the Mission District of San Francisco. The farm, Little City Gardens, is run by two lovely ladies: Caitlyn Galloway and Brooke Budner. I know Caitlyn from New Bohemia Signs, where we are both part-time sign painters. I’ve been hearing about her farming endeavors around the shop for the past year and it was exciting to finally go check out the farm.
For most of the last year, Caitlyn and Brooke have been fighting legislation that required an expensive and difficult to acquire conditional-use permit to sell vegetables that were grown in the city. The pricey permit put a damper on their experiment to make urban framing economically viable. Instead of shelling out they decided to challenge the law and pave the way for urban agriculture in San Francisco. Their legislative battle captured both local and national attention, even getting a write up in the New York Times last May. I’m excited to report that the girls won! April, 20th Mayor Ed Lee signed into law a bill allowing urban agriculture in San Francisco. The signing ceremony was held at Little City Gardens.
The afternoon I spent on the farm was the day before Mayor Ed Lee was coming to sign the new urban ag bill into law. What impressed me most was the sense of community on farm. The lot is nestled in the middle of a neighborhood in the Mission District and throughout the day neighbors stopped by to give their congratulations to Brooke and Caitlyn. There were also a handful of neighbors volunteering their time to help with farm duties. This is the beautiful thing about urban agriculture: it connects people to their food and the people who grow it. It’s eating local at its best.
I really enjoyed getting my hands dirty and doing some hard physical labor. I made some new friends and I learned a lot too. Richard, a fellow volunteer, showed me how to identify invasive fennel, wild turnips, and wild black berries. It’s easy to get disconnected from where food comes from and spending a day farming is a humbling reminder to be appreciative of the food you eat.
While Caitlyn and Brooke have succeeded in paving the way for urban agriculture in San Francisco it is still illegal here in the East Bay. Novella Carpenter, an urban farmer in Oakland has recently run into some trouble with the city for selling vegetables from her garden. So there’s still work to be done. It’s time to put food production back into the hands of the people, not government subsidized industrial agriculture. Support urban agriculture in your area and while you’re at it, plant a few vegetables of your own.