Bacon Brownies in the Mission

In preparation for my son’s transition to Northwestern University, he’s joined a few Facebook groups for incoming Northwestern freshman. One Bay Area group organized a picnic in Dolores Park and George, wanting to make a good impression, asked me to make something special and representative of his growing food knowledge and expanding food palate. He came up with bacon brownies. I thought we should throw in some chocolate-covered caramels and finish the batch with freshly ground sea salt. I mean, if we are going for different, we might as well really test his new classmates on their adaptability and food-comfort level.

With a double batch of brownies securely wrapped and ready for the trip, he headed out yesterday in anticipation of making some new friends before his move next month. Eight other young adults showed up, mostly with sweets, and awkwardly greeted each other until the comfort of knowing that everyone was in the same boat set in.

Half of the plate of brownies remained when the picnic wrapped up and as he gathered his things and made his way through the park and back to BART, he was stopped by someone inquiring about his brownies. “Hey man, are those edibles?” “No, sorry.” George smirked as he continued his course through the park, laughing at the thought of his mother’s brownies being mistaken for the pot-laced snack. Once on 18th Street, he decided to stop and make a call in front of Bi-Rite. While the plate of brownies rested on a ledge outside, a man passing by in a business suit slowed down and took a good long stare at them. George noticed his lingering look and asked him if he wanted one. “My mom made these for a picnic and there’s plenty left over. They’ve got bacon and caramel and sea salt in them.” The man happily took one, said they were delicious and to thank me, and went on his way. Once George got to the BART entrance, he really didn’t feel like carrying the plate of brownies all the way to North Beach. As he passed a homeless man standing outside, he asked him if he would like them. “What’s in them?” he asked before deciding if he wanted them or not. After a few seconds of contemplation, he accepted them. And with that George passed them on and experienced an only-in-San Francisco afternoon.

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Lambda Olive Oil

My very generous father-in-law gifted me the most amazing find recently. A bottle of the world’s most expensive olive oil. It was stashed away in a protected place for a couple of months. I was completely unable to crack it open. Every time I would bring home a delicious loaf of fresh bread and pour myself a glass of wine I would say to myself, “is today the day?”

The day finally arrived a couple of weeks ago. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and we had nothing to do so we hopped in the car and drove to the Ferry Building to source food items worthy of the oil. By the time we arrived it was almost noon and we rushed to the Della Fattoria stand, only to find that they were nearly sold out of all loaves. Surveying the handful breads left, we settled on a loaf of their campagne bread. Next we headed to Cowgirl Creamery and discussed appropriate cheeses with the cheesemonger. We ended up with a piece of Fiore Sardo, a hard sheep’s milk cheese from Sardinia, and a piece of Wisconsin cheddar. In between bites of bacon-stuffed hot dogs from 4505 Meats  and blood orange gelato, we managed to pick up some perfectly ripe plums and tomatoes.

With our pockets considerably lighter, we headed back to the car and drove to the in-laws to share the bounty (and olive oil). With bread and cheese sliced and tomatoes seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, I did the honors.

Llambda Olive Oil is classified as a ultra premium olive oil. This means that it has the highest levels of polyphenols among other antioxidants and low levels of “acidity” or free fatty acids that make extra virgin olive oil so healthy. Usually polyphenols equate to bitterness, but in Lambda’s case, the oil is balanced and smooth.

This oil is limited and there aren’t that many ultra premium oils out there in the world. It’s an exclusive club of which I’m excited to join, at least until the bottle runs out. I’ve tasted a lot of quality extra virgin olive oils in the last few years and my palate usually prefers a more pungent flavor. But I truly appreciate the finesse of this oil. It is so smooth and refined and goes down so easy that if it weren’t so expensive it would be the ideal oil to drink straight out of the bottle.

Thanks Mba-mbas!