At Boudin Bakery, San Francisco

boudin-bakery-san-francisco

If there’s one kitchen skill I’d like to master, it’s breadbaking. I simply enjoy watching and learning the process and really, who doesn’t love the smell and taste of freshly-baked bread? I know how to make only the most basic of loaves and I am in awe of anyone who knows her sourdough and who is not confounded by starters, active yeasts and such. 🙂

In search of dinner on our second night in San Francisco, we were enticed by the wonderful smell coming from the famous Boudin Bakery. They have a shop and cafe area called Bakers Hall where one can stop for a quick meal and a cup of coffee and load up on kitchen supplies (or be sorely tempted to).

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Don’t you just love shop displays like these? Makes one want to be a gourmet cook, hehe.

jam and stuff

We brought our meal to the patio looking out into Fisherman’s Wharf and people-watched. (People-watching at Fisherman’s Wharf is a very interesting pastime indeed.) The soup in a bread bowl that I had was absolutely delicioso.

Later, we kibitzed with other tourists in front of a huge observation window along the street and watched some of Boudin’s bakers show off their skills (that’s my envy speaking, haha). Here’s a very short video I took, with some ambient sounds from the streets of San Francisco:

They make the shaping of loaves look so easy, argh!

*****

I wasn’t kidding when I said I am in awe of those who are good at bread baking. I’m learning (slowly) through cookbooks and once, out of exasperation, enrolled in a day-long training just to get a feel for the kneading part, hehe. Months later, I am still the sort of amateur who ‘over-flours’ the counter. 🙂

How about you, do you bake bread? How did you learn? 

Magical Miracle Fruit

(For my last post in this series about my mother’s garden, which is my way of honoring her this Mothers’ Month of May, I am featuring a most unusual fruit — something that, come to think of it, is like our mothers who help make even the worst of times just a little better. :))

Of all the produce in my Ma’s garden, this is probably the most unusual — synsepalum dulcificum, better known as miracle fruit or magic berry. It is so called because of the amazing effect it has on one’s taste buds. Simply put, it makes everything, and I mean everything, taste really sweet.

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Fruits from a Southeast Asian Garden

My memories of childhood summers always include the tambis. One of the bigger trees  in our garden, the tambis or macopa (water/rose apple) was also the only one in our street and bore so much fruit that it gave us our version of a lemonade stand. Every summer afternoon, my sisters and I would set up a small table in front of our gate, arrange the tambis in pyramids and sell them to neighborhood kids for about ten centavos per three pieces.

We also had aratiles and guava trees and our playmates were free to pick a few from those. (I remember that guava tree. I kept peeling off the top layer of its trunk because it was always smoother underneath — a victim of my misdirected quest for neatness even in nature.)

The fruit trees in my mother’s garden are especially prolific now that it’s summer. Around this time, neighborhood kids regularly come around and ask if they can pick aratiles or hagis or tambis. Ma always says yes but also always with a warning for them to leave some on the trees or else, heh. Some things never change. 🙂

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Postcards: El Raval, Barcelona

I had some ‘alone’ time in Barcelona and decided to take a solo stroll along the streets running to La Rambla. Our hotel was situated at El Raval, a densely-populated barrio or barri that used to have a seedy reputation but is now considered ‘hip’ with its restaurants, cafes, boutiques, a museum and a cultural center.

I only snapped a few pictures though, because I soon found myself in front of a heavenly-smelling pastry shop that we’d seen the day before and could not resist going in for some savory/sweet bread. I walked on with that in one hand and a drink in the other, window-shopped at some boutiques, browsed in a vintage record shop with a poster of Bob Marley out front, and bought some stuff at the CCCB bookstore. My camera stayed inside my bag.

I had a great time. 🙂

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Postcards: Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville

When most of you were new to this blog, some clicked on the Travel tab above, checked ‘Spain 2011’ and ‘Italy 2011’ and found nothing but a single photo and an apology from the slow woman. There were those who asked, when are you going to post the pics? Well, I think now is a good time as any, before we are inundated with the Christmas-related posts and preparations and before a post about Rafael Nadal is mistaken for ‘bon nadal’. (Yes, there will be a post about Rafa, haha, I wasn’t entirely kidding.)

We started our tour in Seville or Sevilla, in the Andalusian region of Spain. The photo above is of La Giralda which is probably Seville’s most famous landmark. The Giralda was a mosque’s minaret that later became the tower of the Cathedral of Sevilla. Entombed inside the cathedral is Mr. 1492 himself, Christopher Columbus, who did not direct Home Alone. I took that picture from the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, standing under a naranja (orange) tree. Naranjas are as common in Andalucia as coconuts are in the tropics.

Also common are serranitos (warm sandwiches). We had them everywhere but the best, omigod THE BEST were these jamon serrano ones at El Patio San Eloy. Months later, I still dream of them.

Here are a few more pics of Sevilla taken from inside Barrio Santa Cruz:

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