Harmony.

IMG_20170404_092003

Of soul, of spirit.

With nature, with self.

It’s a long and arduous walk uphill and I am still at the base, looking up, the bright sun in my eyes. But if knowledge and awareness are half the battle, then I am half way up. I hope to walk on, consciously shedding the unwanted weight of self-doubt, of superfluous thoughts and needs, of judgements and self-righteousness, to empty, empty, empty all that makes me blind to the beauty of this hill, the flowers growing there, and the cool shelter of trees. The running brook and it’s cold sweet water. The birds and the foxes. To emerge from the fog, the dark cloud of self-absorption into clarity, into light.

It’s a long walk uphill. I will not be done in this lifetime, or possibly the next. But I have taken the first step, and maybe that is all I will achieve in this lifetime, but hey, it is a step forward, and that gives me hope.

Rituals

1006160804_hdr

Simple rituals that yet settle the heart. The soft intimacy of journaling by candlelight. Especially now that dawn arrives with slower, more hesitant feet. Reaching for the day through solitude.

:: the candle light looks like two ducks floating on water, doesn’t it? ::

Un peu de Paris…et Pizza.

0503151716

My heart still trembles to think of it. I have been to Paris. Spent a week in her lap, walking, walking…simply walking, and breathing in all that is Paris. Even the street names sounded so pretty, rolling off the tongue with their exquisite foreignness. Rue de Rivoli, Rue Montmartre, Avenue du Champs-Elysees, Rue des Mauvais Garcon, Rue de Louvre, Rue de…well…

In the heart of Paris, close to Montparnasse, is where we had the most exquisite pizza of our lives. Pizza Margherite. Every mouthful was a saucy, cheesy delight. And it helped that we were desperately hungry. The anticipation was at a pitch and the pizza did not disappoint. Now every single pizza that we taste gets held up to the one we had in ‘Paree’. Tough, I know. But there it is. We must all have a dream.

Making a ‘good’ pizza has ever been a challenge. Either the crust is too doughy or too wafer-y or too undercooked or too overcooked…

But this time..it was different.

The dough (Olive oil dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day):

pizza 007

2 3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 packets yeast – I believe 2 tbsp..
1 1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary (optional)
6 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1. Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, olive oil, and rosemary with the water in a 5 qt bowl.
2. Mix in flour without kneading, using a wooden spoon, until all the flour is incorporated.
3. Let rest approximately 2 hours.

Note: The rosemary is our addition.
More importantly, I used half the recipe. It made 4, approximately 9″-10″ pizzas.

The sauce:

pizza 005

1/4 cup olive oil
4 pods of garlic, minced or crushed
1 28 oz. can Cento San Marzano peeled tomatoes
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil and add garlic. Saute for 15 seconds.
2. Add the sage and oregano, stir for a quick second.
3. Add the tomatoes. Mash them roughly with your spatula.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Let simmer for 30-45 minutes, until thickened. Cool.
6. Grind.

Light the fire. Call on the grill.

pizza 009

pizza 012

pizza 014

pizza 019

Do you smell the fire? That sizzling charcoal-y earthiness?

While the heat is raking over the coals, lets put the pizza together…

pizza 026

pizza 031

Divide the dough into 4 equal sized balls.
Stretch, roll each one out into an approximately 9″ round, 1/8″ thick base.
(We made them one at a time so the dough did not get soggy from the sauce.)
Top with sauce, mozarella, and toppings of your choice.

Put it on the grill, at 450, for about 8 minutes.

Note: We use the Green Egg and the outside temperature read 350.

And viola: Pizza a` Paris.

pizza 3

pizza 2

pizza 023

Well….maybe not precisely…but close enough. 😉

Bon Apetit, mes amis!!!

A votre sante`!

wine 004

wine 002

It was cold this night…

0225151240_20150225125242130

Cold nights are always so wonderful to read about in books.

…’crisp’..’clear’..’brisk’..’clean’…

Within the confines of my warm room, I always want to step out into the crispiness of it all. To breathe in that cleansing cold air and breathe out those dragon puffs into the mittens of my hands. Cold tipped ears, cold tipped nose, warm cinnamony sentiments.

But without, it is such a different story.

It was cold last night. The assault was instantaneous. ‘Ere I stepped out, and there I was shrouded within the frigid folds of the night.

Stiffened bones, broken breath, burning lungs…

I was beside myself with the misery of it until I happened to look up. And there the moon cut a sickle against the night sky and glowed softly towards the star. And the lone star winked back at the moon and perhaps blushed at her own temerity. There was a softness there. A romance. Warm cinnamony sentiments.

0225151240

I kept my gaze skyward, shamelessly eavesdropping on the lovers, until the glow of their mayhap-imagined romance overwhelmed me and what warmth was mine until shelter could be found.

Buona Forchetta

Buona Forchetta.  Located on Beech St in San Diego, it was our next pit stop. Wood fired pizzas and pastas beckoned, not to mention the desserts!!! Can I say, YUM?!!!

It is a cozy little place in a residential area with a lot of seating outside which, I am beginning to see, works so well for the California weather. Inside it was all white cotton curtains, dark wood, cream and brick walls. Classy! The servers spoke to one another in Italian. I could have closed my eyes and imagined myself in Italy. Not that I know what restaurants look like in Italy but hey, one can pretend, right?

First order of the evening, Sangiovese, Lo Duca, Italy and Artichoke.  The artichoke was simply dressed and cooked to perfection! It was SOOOOO GOOD!!!! It went down really fast! And a Margherita pizza for the boyo. The Pizza actually tasted like the one we had in Paris which sent into transports of nostalgia and joy. The crust was so light and airy. We finished the edges after dipping them in the leftover artichoke drizzle.

image_20140617223039390

For the main entree, we wanted to have some gnocchi and since we were half way full and wanted to share it and I am a vegetarian, they cooked a vegetarian Gnocchi just for us. Isnt that the sweetest thing? It had Marinara sauce which was so fresh, I swear I could taste the vines on the tomatoes! The gnocchi was light and it was sprinkled with vegetables.

image_20140617223501846

For dessert we had Millefoglie. Light as air Puff Pastry filled with a light, sweet and frothy cream and strawberries. Oh my word, the strawberries! Soft and sweet with fresh off the farm freshness. They quite made the dessert. Oh, and do try their Port wine. It was really good with hints of caramel. It was very tawny!

All in all, a wonderful end to a wonderful day! Cheers!

P. S. I did not take photos of the restaurant because it was buzzing with people and I could not get a shot sans people.

I also did not take photos of the dessert because the minute I saw it, all thoughts of the camera went right out of my head. 😉

Bread & Cie

Today, we are off to the Zoo and the Balboa Park! Since it promises to be a long day of walking, we decided to fortify ourselves for all that the exercise with some breakfast.

Bread & Cie

wpid-imag0905.jpg

wpid-imag0904.jpg

Okay, so we went kinda crazy in there. All that lovely looking bread! And pastries!

wpid-imag0903.jpg

See what I mean?

The Cafe has an old and new world charm. Its simple and elegant.

We ordered 2 California Muffulletta grilled paninis (Genoa salami, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers, red onion, tomato, fresh basil and olive tapenade, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar Wrapped and marinated overnight on Italian Ciabatta Bread), 1 Roasted Eggplant and Feta Cheese Specialty Sandwich (with red onions and roasted red peppers on Black Olive bread. Yum, right?), 1 Creamy Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwich, 1 Cheese Danish, 1 Almond Croissant.

wpid-imag0900.jpg

Let me tell you, BEST. BREAKFAST. EVER.

P. S. One hour free parking at the back. 🙂

All aboard….

We are flying somewhere over Arizona and wondering if the mountain peaks below are the ones we will be driving through in a few days time. It looks really hot down below, beneath the clouds, whose shadows flit about like so many dancing ballerinas. There isn’t a single drop of green or blue as far as the eye can see. Only brown earth and patches of black where shadows fill their stony crevices.

It is so barren, so isolated. I would not like to be alone there. One can imagine being alone in some woods but not here. Perhaps its just an illusion of safety that the trees afford but one does not feel so safe nor sheltered in an arid desert.

IMAG0082

Many deep crevices run from the base of the mountain, zigzagging across the terrain. They look devoid of water. There is no blue sparkle from up here. No glittering diamonds as the sun plays upon liquid drops. Just dark, black, deep caverns, long since dried out.

Even as I write, we have moved from a solitary line to a forest of mountains. Peaks and peaks of them. Mysterious and forbidding. The undulating rocks look deceptively sandy. I cannot wait to discover them.

IMAG0083