Our new studio space is on a quirky stretch down the backside of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, a block above Chinatown. I've lived in San Francisco nearly twenty years and somehow missed this block entirely - a little strip of studios, shops & cafes, and the cable car museum. If you fly out the back window and hopscotch a roof or two, you'll likely land on the Chinatown branch of the San Francisco library. Work on the space is coming along steadily, and I'm hoping to move all things QUITOKEETO over there in the next week or two. Things are still rough around the edges (and corners, and window boxes, and the list goes on), but the light inside during the day is beautiful, and the space itself is full of secrets and charms. We've been findings all sorts of treasures from decades past - old cigarette papers, stationery, store signage, invoices. Here's a sampling:
The space was a painter's studio for many years, and I suspect a grocer for a stretch prior to that. We enjoyed our first lunch there this week using a window box as a bench, and an old beer garden table for the food. It's picnicking, really, because the only amenity is running water. No cooking, no appliances, no kitchen. I pulled together this salad, and we sat in the sun, and enjoyed it with leftover lentils from the night prior. The salad is one I've been making regularly - the best butter lettuce or little gems I can find tossed with a splash of good olive oil, a sprinkling of almond saffron salt, and squeeze of lemon juice. I finish it with whatever is on hand - in this case; avocado, blue kale micro greens, and a few coriander blossoms. The saffron salt is unexpected, and really adds something. That said, if saffron isn't in your repertoire (or budget), trade in another flavor you love - thyme, or oregano, coriander, or any herb or spice you can imagine will go nicely with lemon. I'll have to write up the lentil recipe as well. It is a staple by one of my favorite cookbook authors. I've cooked a lot of lentils in my life, a lot of different ways, and this preparation is one I always come back to.
I noticed this David Hockney picture taped to the backside of the front door the first time I walked in, and considered it a good omen. The quote is, "It was the eyes that caught my eye and I realized it's about intense looking, what it does and what it can do." More soon! -h
Blue Kale Studio Salad
You can prep nearly all of this salad a day or two in advance. The saffron almonds will keep in a small bowl or bag. And you can boil the eggs ahead of time as well. If you wash and dry the lettuce, it will keep beautifully for a couple of days, sealed in a bag, refrigerated.
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
pinch of saffron threads (20 or so)
1/3 cup (Marcona) almonds
3 hard boiled eggs, grated on a box grater
2-3 heads of butter lettuce or little gems, well washed and dried
a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
to serve: lots of sprouts or micro greens, avocado, coriander or chive blossoms
Grind the salt and saffron into a powder using a mortar and pestle. Add the almonds, and smash until the nuts are the size of small pebbles. Set aside.
Just before you're ready to serve, arrange the lettuce in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss gently, but thoroughly, you want all the leaves to get lightly coated. Cut the lemon in thirds, and squeeze one third onto the lettuce, toss again. Sprinkle with most of the saffron-almond mixture, and gently toss one more time. I like to finish with the eggs, and lots of micro greens or sprouts, but typically season them with a bit more olive oil, and a touch of salt before sprinkling them atop the lettuce along with the avocado, and any edible blossoms I have on hand. Serve along with the remaining lemon wedges.
Prep time: 10 minutes