I woke up this morning to a brisk breeze coming in through the windows. After spending the last twelve years in Florida I rarely had the opportunity to sleep with the windows open. It was a bit chilly yet relaxing feeling. The temp was in the mid 50’s and the sky was a bit overcast, rain was coming, but I really didn’t mind. It has been a while since it rained and I like the crisp freshness of the air after a nice rain.
I was looking forward to this morning. I had plans to enjoy brunch with my friend Jessica, the food is usually good but the conversation is always better. On my way I asked Jessica if her sister, Paula “Sweetpea”, wanted to join us. I had heard stories about Paula but had never met her and was looking forward to meeting this mystical creature I had heard so much about. I heard she was a bit of a free spirit, intelligent, creative and had a way with words that described things like they were classical poetry. I imagined her frolicking around tall grass fields in Europe, dancing in circles as bunnies and butterflies swarmed around her. As she walked spouting random tid bits of knowledge and stories of her adventures sparkles magically appearing out of nowhere.
I made my way over to the east bay to pick up the gals. I managed to get a bit lost, I am not sure what they were thinking when they designed the interchange coming off of the bay bridge from the city. After I finally arrived, I was informed we were headed over to Aunt Mary’s Café just down the road on Telegraph Ave. I am always up for trying something new and this place was on my list to make it too.
Aunt Mary’s Café features some unique and creative southern comfort foods with a twist and an emphasis on using local and sustainable ingredients. I was overwhelmed by the menu, not sure what to choose I asked for some suggestions from our lovely server. I was torn between the Southern Bubble and Squeak, potato cakes with southern greens served with 2 eggs and pot likker gravy. I have no clue what pot likker gravy was but I watched several dishes make their way out of the kitchen and it looked delicious. I also had my eye on the Hangtown Fry-TTata, a frittata with bacon, spinach and topped with fried oysters. I settled on an item from the seasonal menu (I can always come back for the other two) a Mushroom hash made with shitake, oyster and portabella mushrooms, cooked up with some potatoes and peppers in a rich and delightful sauce, topped with a couple of eggs over easy and a made from scratch biscuit.
Jessica was equally happy with her selection. She went with the Raised Rice Waffle, top with figs in a slightly sweet compote with a hint of anise! Being the good friend that she is she let me have a bite or two and for a hot second I thought about ordering a whole second meal. You simply can’t find a meal like this back in Orlando! Did I mention this delight was topped with a light and air goat cheese whipped cream? Shut the FRONT DOOR! You have to try this. Sadly my photography skills do not do this waffle justice.
While the food was amazing, it doesn’t compare to the conversations it sparked. I love food, it’s a large part of what this blog is all about. I love to cook, though I am not a chef. I love to try foods and talk about them, though I am not a critic. Sweetpea pointed out that food is in a way an expression of caring about someone. If you care for someone and cook for someone you are in a sense providing for that person, at least for that moment. She told me a story about a dinner at a friend’s house. As they were eating dinner the mother was just watching everyone eat and then said, “I love watching my kids eat.” It kind of made my heart melt.
Food is a huge part of our lives and our experiences. Look at how often the focal point of our social interactions is a meal or a beverage. In a way food is a connector of people, an experience we share. I think back to my friend’s in Orlando, we have “family” dinners as often as we can, but not nearly as often as I would like. We get together at someone’s place and lay out an amazing spread of home cooked deliciousness, and then we would kick back, chat, play yahtzee and laugh all night. When it comes down to it, life doesn’t get much better than that!
If new friends and new experiences became the focal point of all of our lives, just imagine what a happy place the world would be!
By the way my vision of Paula “Sweetpea” was not that far off, though I was slightly disappointed there were not random burst of magic sparkles surrounding her!