Monday, June 25, 2012


It's been a beautiful long weekend away filled with friends, family and great food.  Seeing as though we were out by the sea for three days, an ample amount of fish was involved on our dining agendas naturally- Bodega Bay is a prime summer seafood location which I was happy to take advantage of.  Along with several meals of local fish, we also dined on some wonderful brisket, hearty steaks and plenty of Sonoma Coast snack foods that can only be found out along that particular stretch of the great highway 1.  Saltwater taffy anybody?  Fresh crab, oysters and cheese?

After such an incredibly indulgent getaway, I found myself coming home to a dark, cool house, feeling cozy and comfortable and just a little bit in need of... Pasta!

Homemade pasta dishes are a favorite, especially during this summer season when you can find so many different types of tomatoes, basil bunches, garlic and onions in the markets.  Spending the afternoon preparing pasta sauces and soups has become a favorite activity for me when I am able to devote the time to do so.  All of the ingredients are super fresh and easy to find and the recipes are uncomplicated, traditional & delicious.  I took extra care today to try and gather only local providers to make the hubbs' special dish:  Homestyle canneloni.

First off, Black garlic.  Has anyone heard of this yet?  I was intrigued by the unusual looking garlic sealed in it's stylish black glossy bag.  Produced only in Hayward, CA the company Black Garlic, Inc. describes it as "sweet meets savory, a perfect mix of molasses-like richness and tangy garlic undertones. It has a tender, almost jelly-like texture with a melt-in-your-mouth consistency similar to a soft dried fruit. Hard to believe, but true. It’s as delicious as it is unique."  This garlic is normal garlic that is literally fermented under high heat for three weeks, aged for one week and then immedietly shipped off for consumption.  It has no odor, gets better with age and is packed with twice as many antioxidents as regular garlic.  I found it at Whole Foods and can't wait to try it in my marinara sauce tonight!

I picked up some tree oyster mushrooms from the lovely Far West Fungi as well.  They are located in Moss Landing, just 95 miles south of San Francisco 1/2 mile away from the beach, which means that a "steady ocean breeze and northern coastal fog makes it ideal for a consistent outside temperature throughout the year and a perfect location to grow mushrooms."   The Garrone Family sells their mushrooms at the San Francisco Ferry Building as well as various local farmers' market.  You can even purchase their mushrooms and other fungi oriented products online, so check out their website.  These will be chopped up finely and used inside of our cannelloni along with the next great cheeses...

Marin Cheese Company distributes high quality cheese and fine grocery items around the entire bay area.  I frequently purchase their pre-shredded cheeses to save myself time and elbow grease when cooking pasta dishes-  I find that the standard quality of their cheese is very high and am always happy with the results.  Today it's shaved parmesan cheese and shredded pecorino romano blends that will be giving the cannelloni it's bite, along with fresh ricotta. 

Last but not least, of course, pasta.  I will not claim to be any sort of pasta afficienado, nor am I brilliant pasta craftsperson.  I can make gnocchi by hand but still have not mastered the noodle.  That's why I depend on The Pasta Shop in Oakland for their egg pasta sheets.  They are hand crafted, incredibly fresh sheets of egg noodle that you transform into lasagne, cannelloni or you can cut your own noodles.  Very simple to prepare and absolutely tastes homemade with Durum, eggs and semolina.  You can visit the Rockridge Market Hall to pick up their great pasta products, but if you are able, handmade is always best.

Ok, I think I'm all ready to start cooking- just typing all of this is making me hungry so I better get started.  I'll post my recipe for cannelloni, as well as a recipe for handmade pasta and some photos of the completed dish as my next entry.  Check back later for sure.

Time to get into the kitchen!


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