San Francisco. The city by the bay. The Bay Area. My hometown. Within the city’s many hills and along the city’s many beach shorelines, there are stories to be heard, history to be made, secrets to be revealed and delicious food to be eaten. Every year, the San Francisco Bay Area sees millions of tourists and natives like me come to discover it all. With that, I’ll regularly rant on happenings around my town not to be missed and yumminess to be achieved. Join me!
BUT FIRST, A QUICK HISTORY LESSON
This California peninsula city was founded and established in 1776 by colonists from Spain, naming it after Saint Francis of Assisi. Part of the foundation of the city started with the Presidio and Mission districts. Soon after, the gold rush brought in the influx of gold seekers and Eastern settlers. And in just the last hundred years or so, the city saw everything imaginable.
1906 brought about the largest earthquake to date, causing one of the most devastating fires the West had ever seen. It was rebuilt, in part, by the influx of immigrants who came from all over the globe to start a new life and contribute to the greater Bay Area. The “decade of love” protested a senseless war whilst demanding equality, tolerance and some form of peace. The belief that love is love put San Francisco at the helm of the LGBTQ community activism, being the first in the nation to have same-sex marriages (before Prop 8 came about).
We make history and get very hungry in the process. And while being the most culturally diverse metropolitan city in the country, we’ve become the most gastronomical one too. One can eat their heart out then head to the city’s many museums, music halls, art galleries, comedy clubs or movie screenings. Once outside, one can ice skate the many rinks open in the winter, swim the ocean seas in the summer, walk through the many green parks in the spring, or bike their way through one of the best cycling city in the world all year long. That’s my city!
HAPPENING AROUND TOWN
This week, I’d like to highlight theContemporary Muslim Fashion exhibit being held at the de Young through the 6th of January, 2019. I’ve been to the exhibit multiple times and plan on going again before it closes. This is a historical first for such an exhibit and of course, where else would such a colorful and truly inspiring exhibit be than at the de Young?
Tickets average $30 per person but members get in free! Side note: If you’re a true fan of art, a Fine Artsmembership is worth every penny. With lots of exhibits to see and membership perks to enjoy at both the de Young and Legion of Honor.
San Francisco Symphony last week held a screening feature of A Nightmare Before Christmas and it was truly spectacular! They’ll do it again with the screening of the holiday classic, Home Alone.
Want to go ice skating? We’re spoiled for choice all across the city. Just for the holidays, there are three ice rinks: one right in front of City Hall, a second in the middle of Union Square and a third at the Embarcadero Center. There’s also the Yerba Buena Ice Skating and Bowling Center which is open all year round.
And if you still need to shop for gifts, look no further than the upcoming Etsy’s Maverick Holiday Market happening at the Crocker Galleria December 19th. Nothing beats buying from your local businesses, right? Shameless plug: I’ve started a small boutique shop on Etsy too!
This week, I’m highlighting an old favorite spot of mine, Bursa on West Portal. They truly serve up really good Arabic food with touches of gourmet and home. My favorite dishes are both the chicken and beef kebabs, succulent lamb stew, and the piping hot pastry cheese rolls. Just thinking about those cheesy rolls makes me hungry!
I’m not a fan of the seasonal pumpkin spice lattes (because yuck) but I did miss the occasional winter holiday coffee drinks. As a huge fan of Peet’s, I’ve been hooked on their peppermint mocha and the dark chocolate orange mocha. They are great pick-me-ups especially on those cold Monday mornings as you head back to work.
As a fan of baking, especially when it comes to chocolate, I’m always craving a new kind of recipe. This time it was brownies! I did a bit of research here and there before coming across this interesting recipe from Cacao Web. The link shows both a recipe for Scandinavian brownies with frosting. I decided to opt out of the frosting so I can make and test the recipe out. Of course as I always do, I made my adjustments to the recipe and decided to make not one but TWO separate batches.
The recipe calls for 1 1/3 cup flour, 1 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup of butter, 3 oz of hot water and 4 oz of chopped walnuts.
For the cocoa powder, I used the unsweetened kind that I get from Trader Joe’s. I find it to be much better for baking. For the butter, I gasped at what the recipe asked for. It’s almost two sticks of butter!! Just way too much for me! Instead, I used less then half a cup of my mom’s Egyptian style butter known as “semna”. For those who don’t know, this is like pure butter with no sodium. To make it, my mom gets unsalted butter and melts it down over low heat. This process separates all the gunk from the good butter rising to the top. She then jars it up after it cools at room temperature. It really makes all the difference in the world!
For the water, the recipe asks for a little under half a cup. However, I used a bit less then that so that I can add a dash of my favorite fresh brewed coffee. Coffee really brings out the chocolate flavor just as salt brings out the sweet flavor in most dessert recipes. I didn’t use any salt here and the recipe doesn’t call for it either.
With my adjusted recipe, I made the first batch into brownie cupcakes with chopped and whole chocolate chips to top it off. I did not use any walnuts per the recipe in this batch but the result was YUMMY!! It’s not too sweet and I promise you it’s not bland either. You can taste the chocolate and the texture is not dense, it’s very light. I do think that the next time I make a cupcake batch, I’ll add the chocolate chips into the batter as well as on top to make it more gooey.
The second batch was your typical one layer brownie with chopped nuts and topped off with powdered sugar. Instead of just the walnuts per the recipe, I used a small handful of walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and almonds. I gave them a rough chop and folded them into my batter. Again, not too sweet but just right, especially the flavors of the nut variety. I didn’t want to frost them because the brownie are nice and soft. Instead, I let it cool, cut it up and sprinkled powdered sugar on top.
Feel free to try it out and let me know what you think! Happy Friday!