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When I got home with my heavy bag of loot from the farmer’s market, I realized I’d also brought a little friend with me! Hello ladybug! In anticipation of having a functional stove again today (finally), I bought some tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant with the idea to roast them into some kind of sauce. Years ago, when we were growing copious amounts of tomatoes in our front yard in Oregon, we’d find ourselves at this late summer date with far, far too many to eat. So we’d roast them and freeze them for sauces. It’s a great idea, and am planning on reviving the practice for myself! No idea what the final outcome will be, but once it’s come to pass, I will post a recipe or method.

The other prize I came home with was a bag of grapes. It sounds ridiculous to describe a bag of grapes as a prize, but you must trust me. These grapes are like candy. They’re buttery in texture, tangy, and taste of honey. They’re incredible. If you’ve only ever eaten bland grocery store grapes, get thee to a farmer’s market and have some real grapes, stat. It will change your life. I have a pickled grape recipe I’ve been meaning to try, but I wouldn’t dare make it with these, they’re too delicate and tasty. In fact, they probably won’t last another hour!

This has been an unfortunate, yet necessary hiatus from posting for me, for personal reasons. Chaos in life does not always make for smooth blogging. But I just got back from such an amazing trip to Santa Cruz, full of delicious food and drink, that I couldn’t not blog about it.

Many of my favorite food memories center not around eating out, but eating in. Being around a table in a home, with good people and good conversation really can’t be beat for me. California in particular, with its eucalyptus trees and beaches and bouganvilla bushes just reminds me of my childhood in such a warm, comforting way. So when I have a chance to visit, I do. Close friends of mine (one of those just ridiculously well-matched married couples that secretly give you the warm fuzzies) just moved to Malaysia for a few months, and were spending their last few days stateside in Santa Cruz with her brother, a recent culinary school grad now working at a great winery called Bonny Doon.

One night we took advantage of the pork belly he had hanging around (as culinary school grads do) and made a simple arugula salad and roasted potatoes with Romesco sauce to accompany it. Paired with some amazing wines (including an excellent Tempranillo given as pay-in-trade with literally duct tape as a label — how do I sign up for that?) this was a meal that made me so glad that I took this last-minute trip, despite the obstacles. Not to get sappy, but this is why I love food and chose to blog about it. I’m going to try to approximate the romesco sauce recipe here — we added spices as we went so I’ve estimated an amount but then don’t be afraid to add a little more at a time until you’re happy with it. You want this to be spicy, smoky, tangy and bright.

I’m also pleased to announce that the leftover sauce was used on eggs and homemade pizza on subsequent nights — the gift that keeps on giving!

And, because it’s California, a pic of the excellent tacos I ate on my last day. So fresh!

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