Beef Bourguignon, the perfect way to end a weekend
This weekend was an absolutely wonderful and blissful weekend. In food, running, life. It was Valentine's Day Weekend which has never meant a thing to me one way or another. Like most holidays, I don't get swept up in the commercialism and hype. I do my own thing. This weekend was no different, but it is the first time in the history of my life that I have ever received flowers and chocolate on Valentine's Day, and I have to admit it did make me feel all warm and fuzzy. And then I tasted the chocolates from Recchiuti Confections in the Ferry Building as my last bites for the weekend I am about to describe, which pretty much cemented it as one kick ass weekend.
Beautiful flowers from the Ferry Building Saturday Market
The weekend started with a fabulous Friday night of food. I decided to indulge in a non-gluten free friendly meal and it was decidedly worth the risk. In fact, other than a bit of asthma symptoms on Saturday, I was pretty non-reactive to it. We went to Little Star in the Mission and had a deep dish Classic, which has sausage, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper. I had been seriously craving pizza for a long long time (I haven't had a slice since November at Delfina) and this definitely satisfied that craving.
This weekend seemed like it was created straight out of my imagination, it contained all of the things that combine to make me insanely happy and content. Saturday kicked off by getting up early and, for the first time in a while, instead of going on a long run, we headed down to the Saturday Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to pick up ingredients for our planned Sunday dinner as well as our other weekend meals. I wish I had had my camera. We met Brett and Larissa down there, sipped on some Blue Bottle and wandered around gathering more and more ingredients, as well as snacks with each lap around the market.
Our dinner plan for Valentine's Day was simple. After watching Julie and Julia last week, we couldn't help but think about Julia Child's beef bourguignon and since I had never ever had beef bourguignon, it was an easy pick for a Sunday at home on a special occasion. We grabbed our beef from Prather Ranch Meat Company as well as a half chicken for Saturday. We picked up Batch 21 Cheese and Crescenza cheese from Cow Girl Creamery. We shared a box of potatoes from Roli Roti. I drank an outstanding smoothie from one of the purveyors, we snacked on dates and filled our bags with greens, tiny potatoes, beautiful King Oyster mushrooms, spring garlic, beautiful sprouts and pickled veggies from Happy Girl Kitchen. It was a blast. By 10am though, the market gets crazy busy and we were ready to go. Brett and Larissa headed off to Tomales Bay for the weekend and we headed back to my house with all the goodies. We changed, went for a nice long run on the Miwok 100k course from near Rock Springs to the turn around point of the course at the bottom of Randall trail and back. 24 miles worked up our appetites, we made a quick stop at Whole Foods post run for a few ingredients and ice and we headed back to dive head first into our farmer's market goodies.
First there was salad to temporary satisfy the ravenous beasts we were quickly becoming. I tossed a beautiful mix of Greens with Sprouts and topped with avocado, sauerkraut and mild pickled peppers from Happy Girl. The huge ramen bowls were empty in less than five minutes. We put our half chicken into the oven and cooked it "brick chicken" style, using my cast iron grill press. While it cooked, ice baths were taken, beer/cider was opened, veggies were chopped. When the chicken was done, we made fajitas with handmade tortillas from Primavera (also from the farmer's market), bell pepper, jalepenos, onion. We kept the seasoning light and the flavors clean, a bit of avocado, crescenza and lime were all that was needed. Absolutely delicious. The evening was finished off with Coconut Bliss and some gluten free graham crackers which I made on Friday.
We had decided that we wanted to be done running and heading home by 11:30am. We also had planned to run really really hard for a long way, so that meant we didn't have to get up too early. In fact, we each managed to run 19 miles in just around 2:40 and that is on the climby-est part of the Miwok course. Very nice. We were back at the car and heading back into the City by 10:45, which was a vast difference than Saturday when we hadn't even left for our run yet! Lunch was a redux of the previous days salad. And I am thinking that I may be making it for myself every day as long as the ingredients are still available to me. My favorite part was the crunch from the "Market mix", which is a blend of sprouted beans. Wow good.
The beef bourguignon takes a while, so got to work on it pretty quickly. While easy, tasty meals are awesome, there is something really fun and validating about working on small little details and ingredients and spending hours and hours in the kitchen. Sunday afternoons in the kitchen are one of my more favorite thing. It's fun just to create and then be able to eat the reward at the end.
I have not done much cooking out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and unlike most recipes, this one we really tried to follow. There would be no reinventing of the wheel on this one, there is a reason that Julia Child's compendium is in 40-somethingth edition and could become a best seller, again, 49 years after its release. I really liked working through each step, each little detail to create the final product. From individually cooking the bacon, browning the meal, cooking the vegetables before cooking them all together for 3 hours with lots of wine to sauteing the mushrooms in butter (don't crowd the mushrooms!), it was a blast. It reminds me how complex it can be to make amazing simple food. And it was amazing. The beef bourguignon had so much depth of flavor, you felt like you were watching a perfectly executed symphony, but instead of listening, you were trying your best not to submerge your whole face in the still hot dutch oven. We paired the rich stew with a very simple playmate: boiled potatoes. And they played well together. Meat and potatoes to something like an exponent of 10. Meat and potatoes at their best. It was damn good and when followed by the chocolates mentioned above, pretty much capped off the kind of weekend you remember for a long time and enjoyed completely from end to end.