san francisco + berkeley

what i've consumed in the bay area so far:

many little gems, stunning avocados.

three yolo slices of cheeseboard pizza, heavy on the green sauce.

one rebel withinomg. just. omg. 

dumpling in zanthoxylum schinifolium etzucc sauce.

bougie kombucha, because i'm quickly falling for kombucha despite its explosive qualities.

half of a veggie top dog as an appetizer to my cheeseboard pizza.

the best most delicate tomato soup i ever had + the best plum galette i ever had, complete with a sturdy caramelized crust, at the motherland.

the only flavored coffee drink i've ever truly loved, the mint mojito coffee at philz (easy on the cream and sugar).

a loquat and a sour plum, picked by tall tall timo on a sunny stroll through berkeley.

an inspiring gougère the size of my head.

10 soup dumplings.

too much wine.

and a ramp bulb from just left of the astonishing eggplant section at the berkeley bowl.

again, my wedding diet starts tomorrow.


mini champagne cakes with fresh whipped cream and stevia leaves

this time last week i was up to my neck in cake batter that had been spiked with champagne. there was an impending opera premiere, and like all opera premieres, it required cake.

the thing about making mini cakes in someone else's kitchen is that you find yourself doing silly things like hollowing out tomato paste cans to use instead of biscuit cutters and measuring every single ingredient using just a teaspoon and a quarter cup. (the former mathlete in me was proud when i nailed the 2/3 cup of champagne.) the real joy came when i got to style these puppies using all foreign dishes and props, and then top them with fresh stevia leaves grown right outside. have you ever had a stevia leaf? it is so lovely and sweet.

more joy came of course when i served a bunch of hungry friends cake. add that to my list of hobbies: serving friends cake in a post-opera situation.

these little cakes are incredibly moist and at a real good point between dense and light. they're based on my new go-to vanilla cake recipe, from pastry affair, and they're accompanied by a simple fresh whipped cream. i should mention that the libretto for the opera had a really wonderful line about cheese, so in my first test batch of these cakes, the whipped cream got a heavy dose of ricotta folded in. which i thought was yum. eggboy thought it was odd though, so i left it out of the party cakes, but if you're feeling that you'd like your wine cake to have some cheese cream, then do it.

mini champagne cakes with fresh whipped cream and stevia leaves

makes 8-12

cake recipe based on pastry affair's vanilla cupcakes


for the cake:

1 3/4 c cake flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 c sugar

2 large eggs

2 tb vanilla extract

1/4 c vegetable oil

1/3 c plain yogurt

2/3 c champagne

for the whipped cream:

1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream

2 tb powdered sugar, or more to taste

a healthy splash of champagne, or more to taste

for garnish:

powdered sugar

fresh stevia leaves or other pretty edible plants


preheat oven to 350. line a 9 x 13 casserole dish or half sheet pan with foil (using enough so that it hangs over the sides), grease it, and set it aside.

in a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

beat in the vanilla, oil, and yogurt. gradually add the dry ingredients, and then add the champagne, to form a smooth batter.

pour the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean. (check the cake after 18 minutes and add more time as needed.)

let the cake cool. use the foil to lift the cake out of the pan. wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.

to make the whipped cream, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. add the powdered sugar and champagne and beat to stiff peaks. 

to assemble the cakes, use a 2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out cake circles. if the cake was baked in a 9 by 13 casserole dish, the layers may be quite tall for a mini cake, so i would recommend slicing them in half. stack up the cakes, 3 layers each, with a bit of cream in between. dust with powdered sugar, top with desired garnishes, and enjoy!


ojai magic

the end of my ojai stay brought three of the best surprises in the whole wide world of surprises: an eggboy, a ring, and a new status as the future mrs. egg

i want to smile all of the smiles and cry all of the tears. these past three days have brought shock, excitement, and then the feeling that i should not eat that burrito so i can begin my wedding diet right now. (ahhhhh!!!!!!)

eggboy's magical stay included midnight tacos, afternoon tacos, bacon truffles, our first guest list draft, the choral fantasy, a visit to our new favorite bookstore, and heavy usage of the words fiancé and future husband. his visit was short and sweet and the most perfect engagement i could have never imagined. i feel so mushy right now! eggboy is the cheese to my macaroni and i just can't contain my excitement that we are going to get old and wrinkly together. 

yesterday was spent on a bus to berkeley, making the pinterest board and googling "rustic winter wedding" and staring down at my pink and gold ring. i was sad to say goodbye to ojai though. not only do i now have this connection to it since we got engaged there, but it was also the prettiest little town with the sweetest people ever. the concerts were beautiful, the tacos were just right, and my host family was the best.

and now it's time to explore the bay area!!! chez panisse? i think that's a good way to celebrate.


strawberry hi-hat cupcakes

happy ojai friday! today marks the fifth day of my stay and the fifth day that i have eaten nothing but yogurt in the morning, mexican food in the evening, and a whole lot of green room hummus in between. (and i wouldn't be surprised if the entire orchestra could say the same. how does the stage not smell like one big fart all the time?) 

it's been weird not being in my kitchen all week, but exciting because i get to use my host family's beautiful sunny kitchen, and then in order to access wifi i mosey over to the hall which yields live soundtracks like brooklyn rider rehearsals and face melting jazz renditions of all of my favorite mahler tunes

pictured are some strawberry cupcakes that i made for betty before i left. i love that a hi-hat is both a cymbal and a cupcake, don't you? these little guys are inspired by these chocolate beautiesand they totally remind me of that smiling poop emoji. gluten-free smiling poop emoji, in fact!

the recipe is over on betty's site.

have a wonderful weekend, everyone! i am off to berkeley on monday... any restaurant recommendations would be much appreciated :)