Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunday Brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel

Over the long weekend, I went to Yosemite and the trip was amazing. I hadn't been in the winter when snow is on the ground and there was a lot of it with the tumultuous weather. The Merced, more or less runs parallel to the main road into the valley, contains these huge boulders and they were covered in layers of untouched white snow. You could count the number of snow falls with each layer, and reminded of time spent in the Shenandoah Valley.

The purpose of this trip was to snow shoe, eat more than we deserved to, and relax. I hadn't snow shoed and it's really good exercise, especially for the stomach. Not that snow showing works the stomach at all. It's more that I slipped down a bank and was all twisted up. The next thing I know one member of our party is busting up in a huge case of the giggles, which set me off, and got the rest of the party going except for one who observed us with concern or perhaps confusion? We snow showed 6 miles the first day and four the next day. Sadly, it wasn't enough to compensate for all the eating we did. I wish I had pictures to show you the fall -- it's kind of funny.

On Sunday, we scored brunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel, which was a slight miracle given that we made reservations the night before over a long holiday weekend. The guys were really given rather poor choices for brunch, 7:45 to 8 AM and 1PM. Who wants to eat that early, and who could be up without being, well, cranky. To rectify the situation, the girls decided to work it, and the next thing we knew, we had reservations for 9:30! For those not familiar with the Ahwahnee, it was originally built at the turn of the last century to host the wealthy so that they would not have to "rough" it in Yosemite. And certainly, you won't being roughing it. With huge fireplaces (think the size of walls) and comfortable couches, you could easily fall asleep for several hours. You don't have to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy the fires, brunch, and other cool things about the hotel.

Brunch is overwhelming -- there are so many choices. It's hard to know where to begin. They have oysters, salmon, personalized omelettes, all sorts of hot dishes like mac & cheese, mashed potatoes (highly recommend), tilapia with wild rice, fried chicken and shrimp, shrimp cocktail, desserts and so much more. The food is good; the service is good. What is really impressive about the Ahwahnee is the room in which meals are served -- it's quite grand. Super high ceilings, almost floor to ceiling windows that showcase Yosemite's natural beauty. The views probably enhance the food. Be prepared to eat slowly and spend a leisurely morning eating your way through many many courses. It's time very well spent.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Greek Yogurt

Photo by TSW

Who doesn't love Greek Yogurt? The thick super creamy yogurt is something I live for, especially with honey. A few friends decided to make some with their very own home made yogurt, strain it and make Greek yogurt. Bottom line, buy it. It was good but for a 27 oz container yields a scant cup of Greek yogurt in a little over 2 hours. The Greeks would have scoffed at our technique, I'm sure.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rainy Day Sunday Preserved Meyer Lemons

Fresh off the tree

Getting a head ourselves -- in the jars before salting!

Finally, we got it right!

What do you do when there is a break in stormy weather, you run 7 miles, of which 3.5 were up hill and you make lemon preserves. Perhaps more challenging than running up is running down without hurting yourself. Fortunately, the East Bay has some of the most spectacular views of the Bay so on the way down I periodically stopped to enjoy the view which I don't dare do on the way up for the fear of never making it to the top, learning from experience. I absolutely needed to run and while it did rain on my way down, it was worth it to be a little cold.

A friend has the most amazing Meyer lemon tree (it's auspicious you know) and another friend had a list of at least 100 things to do with Meyer lemons so they decided to make Meyer lemon preserves and invited me to join them. It sounds fancy but it's not. Arguably, making preserves was easier than the run though it did take us an hour to get going since there was talking, snacking, and talking some more which is one of many rainy Sunday afternoon luxuries. The process was all very simple. I think the biggest challenge will be how to use them and once we figure it out, and you better believe I'll be writing about it! Placed in canning jars, they make beautiful gifts though I'm not sure who I would give them to.

Remember to toss lemons with salt before putting them in jars. We were so excited we just threw those lemons into the jar.

The only modifications that were made is that in a few of the jars we added cinnamon sticks and cardamom. They reminded me of the Indian version of lemon pickle that my mom makes but a lot less spicy.