Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The weekend treats that keep me going...

Have you noticed how I make it a point to spoil myself? A while back, I realized how easy it is to get caught up in being busy with demands from work, housework, and other basic demands that I was forgetting to do the things I enjoy. I would hate to look back 30 years from now and say, "Why, yes, I always met the deadlines at work three days in advance, got the laundry done on time, and my house was spotless, but yikes, I was so busy being busy, I spent my life being busy!" So now, I constantly remind myself to periodically turn down the noise in my life - whatever non-essential that may seem so essential when the mind is in 'busy' mode - and take time out of my life to do the things I enjoy doing.

Going out for a un-hurried weekend brunch/lunch is one of those luxuries I love. Because of my work schedule, I usually eat lunch infront of my computer. Although I value this break in my day to read my favorite food blogs and Chowhound posts, it's just not the same as taking a full hour or more to savor lunch. Those relaxing brunch/lunch moments are saved for the weekends.


I recently had a wonderful weekend meal at the Hog Island Oyster Co. in the Ferry Building. They have outdoor seating that faces the Bay, and although it was a cloudy day, it was warm enough under the heat lamps to sit on their long wooden benches and enjoy the breeze. It's a great place to rest after visiting the (overhyped - ops, did I say that?!) Farmer's Market.


We devoured a plate of Kumamoto and Sweetwater oysters to start our lunch. The smaller Kumamotos are my favorite, since they have a delicate flavor that flowers inside my mouth. It's only in the last several years that I started appreciating oysters, and the big ones still intimidate me with their potency and overwhelming sea-scent. I like my oysters with just a tad bit of lemon and that's it. Oh, I take that back. I think a well-made ponzu with just enough momiji oroshi (hot-peppered daikon) to bring out the sweetness of the oysters is right up there with the splash of lemon as the best oyster condiment. Do you think I am too Japan-centric when it comes to culinary preferences?

Lunch was soups and salads for everyone, and everything looked great. I liked the stew/broth component of my seafood gumbo very much with all the seafood essence blending together nicely with the spices and the sausage flavor. The consistency of broth was thick without being creamy and deep without heaviness. The dish was overall light and fresh, but with enough punch and sustenance to leave a bold impression. Molly seemed to enjoy the sausages themselves more than I did - I liked sensing the faint shadow of the sausages in the broth, but the actual sausages themselves didn't do it for me. But then again, sausages don't do it for me very often...

The New England clam chowder looked nothing like what I expected when it came. I'd never seen a New England clam chowder that was a thin soup with clams still in their shells. I'll have to bring my ex-Bostonian, Anne, to see what she thinks of it next time I'm up that way.

These weekend moments are the only time I miss that glass of wine, that pint of beer, that elation from a mid-afternoon drink. Sitting there, though, I realized that I am better able to enjoy my moment of calm and happiness in my life because I'm fully aware of what is around me - a sensation that was so elusive after my drinks before. I am more cognizant of the colors that surround me, the scents that excite me, and the joy that is present. These weekend afternoons are treats to remind me of how fortunate I am to have such wonderful richness in my life and friends to share these special moments. I come out of the weekend with a reaffirmed conviction to live my life to the fullest...



Uchipu said...

Well...I don't think there would be a need to miss a drink eating oysters and seafood gumbo.

Even thuogh I do like wine, I still find it very hard to combine wine with seafood. Especially raw seafood, like oysters. I even hard to match with shrimp cocktails, grilled seafood, broiled seafood, etc., etc.

Here you were having Gumbo - something that is rich and thick, yet most likely filled with seafood flavor of shrimp and fish. Merlot and its rounded sweetness will clash horribly and Cabernet will be too tough. Perhaps a Beaujolais, a supple soft Chiroubles, but then those are hard to come by in US. Even so, it'll be odd.

White wines with enough UMPH and yet dry and clean might go with the Gumbo...but then I can already taste the strange green-applish after taste that will emerge after sipping some white wine post a big mouth full of tomato flavored seafood broth.

So there.

When I go have seafood, I usually stick with a glass of champagne before the food comes, and not to drink with the food.

Think about it. Historically, wine has been usually made in mountainous regions far from the ocean. How would dishes that live on freshness of the seafood develop to match the wines of mountaneous regions, far from the source in days where logistics was a nightmare?

I'm sure there are those that enjoy wine with seafood. For me, it's not happening.

O, and the worst of it all...Gewurztraminer with Thai food. How does the strange fragrance of a well develped Alsatian Gewurztraminer go with Thai food??? I don't see it.

Anonymous said...

that was some great sausage and I rarely like sausage...go figure.

And a glass of Vouvre with those Sweetwaters? Perfection. Though I certainly don't need the wine to enjoy Hog Island's food, it's a nice compliment.

That was a fun day...overrated? You're a tough critic.