The San Francisco conference provided the perfect opportunity to extend the trip and visit some of my many friends and close family.My dear friend, Dianne Boate, asked me to give a short talk to her fellow artists who meet once a month to paint and draw along with their gifted art teacher Mary L. Harden. I also fielded questions and spoke to two upcoming local bakers. Dianne's finale to my talk was a presentation of three cakes from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." We were delighted with her artistic pastry-plaid touch for the top of her Gâteau Breton, a cake that she originally inspired me to make! The Marble Velvet Cake and Spice Cake with Peanut Buttercream were also very much appreciated. Friends Caitlin and James Freeman accompanied us to rendezvous with Daniel Patterson and his wife Alexandra at his Oakland restaurant Plum. We enjoyed his interpretations of California cuisine in a neighborhood restaurant setting, including Fried Oysters and Braised lamb shoulder. Daniel is in the process of opening a third restaurant and has just submitted the manuscript for his next cookbook that promises to be a unique reflection of his cuisine. Due to a killer cold (which lasted 3 weeks) that had reached its fevered peak, I slept for 12 hours and missed our much-anticipated rendezvous with Mandy Aftel of Aftelier--coauthor of Aroma with Daniel Patterson, and perfumer par excellence (more about her in a future posting). We did, however, manage to return to Oakland for lunch at Caesar's with my dear cousin Joan. Despite my plugged nose I could still enjoy the Spanish tapas of romaine salad with avocado vinaigrette and hazelnuts, and duck livers. After lunch, a stop at Joan's to see her garden in full bloom and cats, followed by a walk and a trip to the Berkeley's Farmers Market. Returning to San Francisco by BART, which has a station a mere 10 minutes away from Delfina's Pizzaria, provided a perfect excuse to have the pizza dinner we had been anticipating. Would our expectations be met from what we had observed a few evenings prior? Seated on bar stools at their counter where we could watch our pizza being created, we munched on pencil thin bead sticks. Our Salsiccia pizza with fennel sausage, tomato, red bell peppers, and red onion will guarantee a return in the future. The next day, we continued our traditional Aries bakers' lunch with dearest friends Flo Braker and Marlene Sorosky, at the Park Tavern.
We all reveled in the PT Fries with truffle oil, accompanied by aioli, and a soft-boiled egg topped with caviar, and the Lemon Chips with burrata and herbs and other fabulous luncheon fare including their signature "Marlowe" burger. I was also delighted to run into my old friend and colleague Mary Risley of Tante Marie's Cooking School. After lunch we enjoyed another cherished tradition--a walk along the northwest coastal pathway. The walk offers great views of the Golden Gate Bridge thru pine boughs and the rocky coastline with pathways down to driftwood covered beaches. Then home to Dianne Boate and Robert Myers special dinner in our honor, starting off with homemade piroges, followed by lemon chicken, glazed carrots, and au gratin potatoes. Ever the artist, Diane always decorates the table in special ways such as the little wooden figures and her late mother's antique tablecloth. Dessert was a fabulous Pavlova with strawberries and blackberries topping the ice cream and meringue. Sonama annually holds a film festival-Sonomawood. Several independent movies are shown at various theatres and venues along with wine and food tasting. Our friend Bob Myers, Diane Boate's husband, invited us to attend for the day. We saw a "My Father and the Man in Black" a son's journey to find answers about his father's career as Johnny Cash's manager for over seventeen years. In addition to her many other skills (her dad dubbed her Mrs. Much when she was just a little girl), Diane Boate is a professional photographer.She always has a camera ready to shoot a photograph, when she finds a new subject for her painting and drawing. Evening, was an enchantingly lovely dinner at our mutual friends' Syndi and Ron's Hildebrand. Syndi Seid, whose business is Advanced Etiquette, participated in a seminar at IACP. Ron, a gifted artist who worked for years at Rodale Press, has recently started acting in independent and community college movies. He arrived home, after having just played the Pope, in red painted tennis shoes. The last time I visited the Hildebrand's they were living on Knob Hill in S.F. but they have recently moved to a doll-house of a home in St. Anselmo. Dinner was true to Syndi's etiquette style with name cards, menus, and lovely food presentation. Although Syndi is on top of all the rules, she didn't make me feel the least bit uncomfortable eating her delicious roast chicken with my fingers. Dianne's brought a fabulously tangy Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Curd Glaze. Our last day of the S.F. visit was reserved for my brother and family. Tradition dictates that we have a dim sum lunch at Yank Sing and we were happy to return for a second visit this trip. Michael told us he now has 44 Pet Food Express stores in the Bay Area and by now there are probably even more! After lunch we visited Michael, his wife Mia, and Mariella's home in Mill Valley and got to meet the new French bulldog Winston. Michael and I went for a quiet stroll along the bay to walk Winston. Viewing the San Francisco skyline from across the bay was the perfect ending to a wonderful vacation.