Current Fixations — December 2014

How did we get to the last month of the year already? Even if that's the question on everybody's mind, there's no use scratching your head over the answer — just stop for a split second, and soak up everything that is December: lightning sales, holiday baked goods, twinkling sidewalks, cheesy Christmas music, and the always gratifying smell of a fireplace being warmed. Oh, and the few things I'm obsessed with right now.

Big Sur Bakery's Holiday Stollen. Last year, Heidi Swanson of QUITOKEETO started selling limited amounts of Dresden-style stollen, a yeasted German bread with rum raisins, candied citrus, quince, and almond paste, from Big Sur Bakery ($30). The store ran out before I could order any, but you can get notified when the festive-looking sweet loaves are back in stock. 

Helvetica noodle tee. I already wear my heart on my sleeve, so I figure it's okay to wear noodles on my shirt, then, too. I love Helvetica and I love Japanese noodles, so when it comes to this funny statement tee ($20) from Food52, I don't see a better candidate for model than myself. This would make a mighty fine gift for friends and family, too, don't you think?

Pomegranate-accented floral arrangements. The food wasn't the only highlight at POM Wonderful's recent San Francisco event; I was so blown away by the seasonally-appropriate concept of pomegranate arils as decorative accents that I took one of the vases home. (Note that since arils are perishable, arrangements do require some upkeep.) 

OMG Everything Is Fucked mug. I just discovered the writer, illustrator, and designer Emily McDowell, who can't help but make you laugh with her descriptions of the human condition, like greeting cards that say, "There is nobody I'd rather lie in bed and look at my phone next to." I'm itching for this "Everything will be okay//OMG everything is fucked" mug ($16).  


STEM. After the Mid-Market area gentrifies, SF's going to turn all its attention toward the quickly-developing Mission Bay neighborhood. The newest restaurant to open there is STEM, a 158-seat sustainability-focused restaurant with an adjoining garden. Snag one of its excellent  salads or pizzas, then head out to the heated terrace to enjoy bocce, a fire pit, and sweeping Bay views. 

Plantains. Sure, I feel less sluggish when I cut back on the refined carbs, but what's a girl to do when she just loves all things starch? The answer is plátanos. North American cuisine doesn't give these banana look-alikes nearly enough love — I like to pan-fry them in a little bit of coconut oil with cinnamon and other winter spices sprinkled on top. 

Current Fixations — July 2014

Since working for myself, I've made a concerted effort to revel in a slower life pace, and have really tried to take the time to soak up my surrounding as I go about my day. With my eyes wide open to discoveries of the culinary kind and otherwise, I've discovered quite a few new obsessions that I'm quickly making a habit of. 

I've spent more than my budget's worth on independent food, fashion, and literary magazines, but my absolute favorite right now is Anthology. It's the perfect mix of aspirational and relatable, with a little bit of everything I'm interested in: travel, food, thoughtful design, reading. 

The bloody Marys at Wood Tavern in Oakland. They've got that whole smoky-chioptle thing going on, and come with a shot of beer as the perfect chaser. While we're at it, their fried cod sandwich is pretty much perfect.

Devoto Cider ($11.99 at Whole Foods) — The Devoto Family learned how to make hard cider in Asturias, Spain, then brought the craft back to their farm in Sebastopol, CA. They make three varieties, ranging from semi-dry to dry, but my favorite is the 1976. Warning: don't expect to NOT through an entire bottle by yourself in one sitting. 

The best bookstand ever: Issues shop in Temescal. It's great that they have Cherrybombe and Kinfolk and Lapham's Quarterly and witty letterpress cards. But when I walked to the back and saw a bin of homemade magazines labeled "ZINES $4," I really knew I had arrived at my happy place. 

Barrel-aged cocktails at Blackbird Bar. Ever had a rhum negroni that's been aged for five years? Neither had I, until I stepped into Blackbird. Co-owner Shawn Vergara had the foresight to put down a bunch of cocktails when the bar first opened and each year after that, and for a limited time, you can try them, too (the drinks are available until they run out). 

The newly-opened Marla Bakery. Everything, from the coffee to the baked goods to the bread to the lunch is solid at Marla Bakery. But if I had to choose one thing from the store, it might be Amy Brown's chocolate chip cookie. I've never had a better rendition.