Of all my travels throughout the past few months, very few have been vacation. In fact, in the past few years, very few of our trips have been purely vacation. So it was a special luxury to take a week this Spring to travel to San Francisco, to spend a whole week doing absolutely no work and just enjoying what the city had to offer.
We walked over 60 miles that week. We had magnificent dinners with friends, we saw all the sites and more, we visited with family, we relaxed. I spent the week walking all my stress away, enjoying the relaxation and calm that comes with a vacation where you focus only on what you want to do that day, that moment. It was liberating. It’s been ages since I did something that was just for me, and this trip to San Francisco was a luxury I sorely needed.
One of my favorite parts of our trip was the time I spent with my Uncle Everett. Everett, my grandfather’s youngest brother, and his wife Stephanie have been living in San Francisco since the 1970’s and know the town inside and out. Our second day there, after synchronizing our watches over the phone, Uncle Everett picked me up and took me on a driving tour of the city. We visited parks, restaurants, museums, and more, ending up at their house near Twin Peaks, where Uncle Everett showed me his collection of paprika as we pored over recipes for Spanish romesco sauce.
A few nights later we ate a fantastic dinner with Everett and Stephanie, where he whipped up a batch of romesco using a recipe from Tarragona. Romesco sauce is a chile sauce that combines dried chiles, fresh chiles, tomatoes, spices, almonds, and hazelnuts. When we got home I wanted to try my hand at the sauce so Uncle Everett sent me a recipe try. I stirred my romesco into a batch of creamy grits and topped them with a soft boiled egg and fresh garlic scapes. The flavor was rich and spicy, and the creamy yolk of the egg was the perfect balance to the scapes and chiles. This was, perhaps, my favorite souvenir from our trip. Thanks for the recipe, Uncle Everett, and thanks for the amazing time, San Francisco!
Soft Boiled Eggs, Romesco Grits
courtesy of Everett Rosemond
3 dried peppers softened in hot water for about an hour (I use Ñoras from Spain but any dark, dried pepper—Pasillas, for example—will work. Remove seeds and chop
1 hot pepper, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
24 toasted blanched almonds
24 toasted filberts
2 branches of parsley
2 slices of bread, fried in a bit of oil
2 tsp red-wine vinegar—good quality
2 cups dried yellow corn grits
4 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
4 tbsp butter
Salt & pepper
1 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 365º F
In a medium sized pot start the grits by combining cream, water, butter, salt, and red pepper. Bring the pot to medium heat and stir in the grits. Bring to a soft boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally as it thickens.
Sauté the hot pepper and the ñoras in a small amount of oil. Lightly oil a tray and roast the tomatoes for 10 minutes in the oven; allow to cool.
Make a paste out of the peppers you just fried, either in a mortar-pestle or in a grinder; you want a thick paste. Add the nuts, the parsley and dry bread and mix with the mortar-peslte until you get a homogeneous mixture. (I used a small grinder for this)
Peel and seed the tomatoes, cut into strips and add them to the mortar; add the vinegar and 2 ó 3 Tbsp of olive oil, together with the salt. The mixture should look like a thick liquid. Stir it into the grits and season to taste.
Bring a pot of water to boiling. Add baking powder and a pinch of salt (the baking powder helps the eggs peel more easily). Add the eggs, cold, gently. Boil on high for 6 minutes. Remove and plunge into cold water. Peel, slice, and serve on top of grits. Sprinkle with sliced garlic scapes.