Breaking the Bay and a Piece of This Tart

Bay to Breakers takes over Golden Gate Park (photo c/o my main man Sean Dadashi)

Quick poll for this week! Tell me in the comments if you either…

(a)  Prefer something sweet for breakfast

(b) Prefer something savory for breakfast

(c)  Don’t eat breakfast at all

For those of you chose C, shame on you, because breakfast is not only the most important meal of the day, it is damn delicious. Moreover, you can eat pretty much anything you want and call it breakfast. I once ate a slice of cheesecake at 8am, and I maintain that it counts.

With the slew of visitors I’ve been getting (Round 3 this weekend, eek!), it has been my duty and pleasure to show my fine friends around the city and show them how creative and crazy it is. This past weekend brought on whiskey along the waterfront, Mason jar scorpion bowls, and Bay to Breakers.

Wall of whiskey at Hard Water, home to second best (maybe the best, I still haven’t decided) Sazerac I’ve had; obligatory ice cream photo from Bi-Rite (strawberry sorbet)

If you have the opportunity to race run around like a neon-clad lunatic at this event, it is of utmost importance to ensure that your first meal of the day is as rocking as your costume, and this strawberry-caramel tart does the trick. It’s everything you want in a morning meal – sweet (because #lezbereal, sweet things for breakfast are always better), fruity fresh, and satisfying.

Sunny strawberries for Sunday!

In order to maximize time with my out-of-towners and sneak in some sleep, I made the tart crust and caramel sauce a couple of days ahead of time and assembled everything the night before. The dough is buttery and flaky, so instead of rolling it out, simply press it into the tart mold. You want to handle the dough as little as possible – otherwise the gluten in the flour starts to develop, which will make the final product tough and chewy.

Ignore the bottle in the back

Fresh fruit doesn’t last that long, so this tart won’t last more than a couple of days in your fridge As it is, if it lasts more than a day with your friends over I would be very surprised.

Cheers to this ridiculous city. It’s good here.

Good is here 🙂

Open-Faced Strawberry Tart

1 baked and cooled tart shell (recipe follows)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup brown-sugar caramel sauce (recipe follows)
2 pints of medium-sized strawberries, trimmed

  • Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and microwave on high at 20-second intervals until melted through, stirring thoroughly each time.Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread all over the cooled tart shell.
  • While the chocolate is still wet, arrange the strawberries over the top and press them into the chocolate. Try to place the larger berries on the outside of the tart and the smaller ones on the inside.
  • Pour the caramel sauce all over the tart, being careful not to get any on the sides of the crust (it gets soggy). Keep tart in the fridge until ready to serve. Serve chilled with whipped cream or for a sweet breakfast delight.

Flaky Tart Dough

2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (6 ounces) of butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
2-3 Tbsp milk, chilled

  • In a bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flour and salt. Add the butter in and mix on medium speed until butter is pea-sized and evenly distributed. Add in the milk and stir just until combined. The dough will not come together and should look dry with a few moist clumps.
  • Empty the bowl onto the counter and using the heel of your hand, smear the butter with the dry ingredients to scrape the two together and the mixture forms a loose ball. Form the dough into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a tart pan lightly. Unwrap the dough; it will still be loose, but that’s okay. Place in the tart pan and press it onto the bottom and up the sides. I didn’t use all of my dough so it looks like more of a galette than a cake, but you can do whatever you wish.
  • Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Make sure not to overbake because then it will crack. Let cool completely before using.

Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce (adapted from here)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

  • In a saucepan with a heavy bottom, heat the butter, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the cream over medium heat until it comes to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining cream. Mix in the vanilla and salt and let cool to room temperature before using. You can serve extra sauce on the side or just eat it cus it’s so good.
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A Carnival of Food, Friends, and More Food

Random decor at Straw; the ruler and numbers are part of the colorful menus

Some people fall punch drunk in love. Me, I fall in love potluck/brunch/ice cream/sunshine-drunk-style. If that doesn’t make sense, it’s not supposed to; the twenty-something life never does.

Strawberry basil lemonade mimosa – best way to get my morning started; Jenga French toast – Delicious, but SO heavy; our eyes were bigger than our stomach with this one

To persevere through this ungainly young adult limbo, it is important to have one or two things with which to stay grounded and to serve as a reminder that these days months years are terrifying, but they are also a party – a carnival even, of the familiar and unfamiliar.

Clockwise from top left: The Scrambler (Eggs with mushrooms and goat cheese, hash browns); Hanky Panky (Belgian waffle with eggs, bacon, and cheddar-potato croquettes); Rocky Mountain Madame (Egg-in-a-hole brioche wit cheddar bechamel and hash browns); Fiesta Grande (Chilaquiles with tortillas, tomato sauce, avocado, eggs, and sour cream)

What better of a reminder is there than Straw, a carnival-themed restaurant in Hayes Valley. This place is tiny but packs a punch with its whimsical and buttery fried foods of fantasticness. Menu items like Fiesta Grande and Hanky Panky made it evident that I should be ignoring calories and going all out for this meal, while the Jenga French Toast and the Egg-in-a-Hole brioche teleported me back to simple childhood games and weekend lunch antics. I left ready to embark on my own moonshine nights, but only after dawdling in the park for two hours because I was so full.

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This restaurant is delicious, but it is not for the dieters or haters of all that is fried. Jenga the French toast at your own risk (I barely finished half a piece myself), and don’t do what I did and eat ice cream afterwards because then you might just explode (Bi-Rite, Y U SO GOOD?!).

Artsy avocados. No real reason for this photo except that avocados are delicious and every party should start and/or end with them.

Ultimately, if you don’t take yourself too seriously (and you never should), enjoy the carnival that is Straw and discover your own party, fiesta, or whatever you want to call it with the people you love and who love you right back.

Keep your friends close and your hungry friends closer.