Spilled Milk x LOTR: 1st Breakfast
Beginning my first meal, of <my perfect day of meals> (ala Tolkien) —
1st Breakfast — A <Blue Bottle> Latte + Rosemary Olive Oil Shortbread…
About 3.5 years ago I took a week long trip to San Francisco. *alone* . It was my first REAL, leave everything behind and let your mind wander with the clouds kinda vacation in over ~6 years. I had just gotten out of a ~3 yr long/emotionally draining relationship, and I was about to start my job at Sony (which I was amazingly happy and excited about as it was my first *real/grown-up* job [whatever that even means…]) It was definitely a big time of change in my life. I planned the trip a week before taking it and made sure it would be any foodie’s wet dream (with some culture exploration thrown in for good measure…)
A Blue Bottle Latte and their Rosemary Olive Oil Shortbread was the first thing I had.
I arrived at 9:00 a.m. to SFO. I was groggy, disgruntled, and slightly uncertain about what I was doing out here. *alone*. About to eat at all these restaurants. *alone* . About to wander around this city – with no friends/family/company. *alone*. That feeling was also accompanied with the strange, out of body feeling of getting out of a long relationship. The constant cycles of unabashed freedom, with overdramatic spurts of – “how will I ever do anything without her?” I was at that moment of recognizing that I had to re-establish that idea of MYSELF — WITHOUT her. Let’s also not forget that every flippin’ thing I saw reminded me of her… And then there was the mere fact that I now had a past that just faded into but a *empty* part of my history (but obviously full of lessons to be extracted and learned from, in order to grow and evolve — something which I’m now <amazingly grateful> for…)
As I stepped onto the tiny Linden side street I remember feeling comforted (at that moment I wasn’t entirely sure why.) After being in the city for some more time now, I feel a certain je na sais quo about SF and its small, unassuming side streets that just fills me with joy. It makes me feel as if there are endless side streets to be traversed. Amazing places/lives/ hidden trinkets and gems within the labyrinths of Langtons, Coltons, Lindens, et. al. each awaiting to be discovered — that or full of cardboard boxes with a group of homeless people living out of it… Each is uniquely named, and some only existing for less then the length of a normal city block, never to be encountered on a map again. This one happened to hold the cozy little nook/garage space in which this Blue Bottle doled out it’s expertly roasted/crafted coffee and heartwarming treats.
It was difficult coming to a conclusion of what to get. For coffee, I stuck with the latte — a genuine (yet technical) way to test this coffee spot out. For treat, a rosemary olive oil shortbread — the idea of savory ingredients in a sweet execution was something I had just started discovering and enjoying (oh how innocently naive my taste buds were back than), and I felt like further testing my boundaries (who would have known this would be the tipping point to the now never-ending, pervasive quest of aggressive flavors and toe curling-ly splendid combinations I seek.)
As my rant above slightly (or not so slightly) prefaced – I was in a smidge of a vulnerable place at the time. Vulnerable enough to have a latte + cookie combo win over my heart and lead me to write this verbose piece of prose you are reading. But — on the other hand — it is a spectacular latte and an amazing cookie. The cookie — a slight sense of rosemary (my absolutely favorite herb of all time) helped provide the perfect savory balance. A splendid olive oil infusing itself into the most balanced shortbread base and lending a spectacular brightness. The cookie was not cloyingly sweet, nor had an overt dense-ness to it (which I feel many shortbread cookies do) — it did so much more for my taste buds then the christmas tins of yore ever could. My idea of a shortbread cookie was redefined — with this being the base which all are now compared to. The ristretto in the latte was expertly pulled, and the right balance of foam and milk. The two came together like a match made in heaven — food heaven.
Flavors aside — these two items were the amuse bouche of the grand meal that was to follow that week. Sometimes I even think to myself — this cookie was that innocent “first time we held hands” or “first kiss” that all budding relationships begin with, that evolved into my love with San Francisco (now I know – the city itself would have swept me off my feet eventually — Blue Bottle just helped in having it happen quicker.) It helped me to open my mind up to the trip. Out of the incessant questioning/doubt/analyzing, and into just riding the endless endorphin high that was my week to come.
Indeed – some do think I’m crazy about my romanticized view on a coffee + pastry. Strangely enough – after having moved out here I actually met a <fellow recent transplant> whose heart was also seduced by a similar Blue Bottle coffee + shortbread (quite the mistress ayy?!) But if not allowing the little things in life move you, grab you by the hand, and help lead you on a journey(cross country or otherwise), then what ARE you letting move you?! What ARE you waiting for? I mean — I even went on a 5 minute rant during my Google interview about the shortbread, even sent some to my then future/now new coworkers as a thank you. This cookie has established and engrained itself into what SF means to me…
During the trip, I expanded my palate to no end. I tried calves brain, sweetbreads, and livers abound; I had maple bacon donuts, bourbon flavored ice cream, and more farm fresh asparagus then any other point in my life, oh and ramps — boy did i have my fair share of ramps; I had 10+ courses with wines paired (popping my fine dining cherry), and more tacos out of trucks then I would care to remember. Every morning though – it was a latte and a rosemary olive oil shortbread.
With amazing timing — this post arrives as the book <“The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee“> was just released. The book is a splendid tome to the magnificent roastery, it’s coffee, and baked goods. I was lucky enough to help with the recipe testing for these amazing treats — and am now able to make the delicious shortbread at home —- transporting me back to that first day on Linden Street, whatever kitchen/city/state/country I might be cooking out of at the time.