On Fridays, we are bound for anywhere. Today, flock after flock of brown pelicans paced us as we headed first for lunch with my dad. Steady down the coast, we discussed directional cardinality, and left and right. (That is, Lucas pointed out that his left shoe is always his left shoe, and Jacob noted that left is always left, but left can also be north or south or east or west.) We talked about why the compass in the car wasn’t broken, even though it said for a while that we were driving west when Santa Cruz is south of us, and we wondered about how compasses work. (Magnetism and the poles, or something? Oh, right. I had mostly forgotten.)
After lunch we went to a bakery where they make an incredible apple cake, but we were there to pick up challah. Grandpa sprang for a pinwheel cookie (Lucas) and a brown-brownie (Jacob). We sat on the deck, where it was chilly in the shade, and Jacob shared bites with us. Lucas did not.
They rode their bikes while my dad and I walked with them around the loop, and then we were back on the road, headed north, slated to meet friends at Bean Hollow State Beach. But we had a little extra time, enough that we decided to stop for a walk at the lighthouse.
We saw harbor seals, and each time we spotted one hauled out on the rocks Lucas cried “Oh! He’s very cute!” One of the rangers told us that she had seen two humpbacks this very morning; we were very quiet and looked very hard, but no whales were spotted. (Though I’m sure if we had seen one, it would have been very cute.)
Inside the old oil storage shed, there are three large and carefully detailed diagrams showing hundreds of different tools that have been in use at Pigeon Point through the years. Jacob was fascinated. Inside the fog signal building at the base of the lighthouse, Lucas loved the scale model showing all the circular steps. Jacob was taken with the golden, glittering first order Fresnel lens. “I want to be lighthouse firefighter,” Lucas declared as we walked back toward the car.
“I don’t really know if that’s such a thing, Lucas,” said Jacob. But his voice was thoughtful.
At Bean Hollow, we hiked the mile between the sand beach and the pebble one. Over a series of bridges, we meandered along the bluffs; we searched for soap plants and tafoni, tidepools and caves. We talked about the Ohlone, and the pirates, and why the air by the ocean smells so good. We squinted out at the Pacific, but still no whales, and for that matter no pirate ships, either.
“Can’t we just eat some of the challah bread from Grandpa?”
“Challah bread from Pampa and Soapy dog,” Lucas corrected.
We consulted the near-setting sun, and then sitting at the edge of the parking lot, the ocean breeze lifting our hair, we said a camp-style hamotzi, and tore into the loaf.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. xo
Maria Speck (lord, she’s a wise woman) includes this special minty buttery olive oil drizzle as a topping for a bulgur-lentil soup that I like quite a lot. I like the soup quite a lot, but this drizzle I am in love with. Don’t tell Kyle. It is amazing on soups, on pasta, as something to dip the crusty end of your bread into, as a jazzy accompaniment to roasted veg of all stripes, or try a few drops on some orange slices. (Wow, right?) Every time I have this drizzle, I have a moment where I think ah ha! Mint! I’m so used to herby oils – I love them, I make them most weeks to have on hand for anything – but the addition of butter and mint and that tiny kick of heat from the cayenne (or try aleppo, for a smokier kind of hot) … It wakes me up, in the best kind of way. After a long day adventuring, coming home to a bit of this left in the fridge makes me happy, because I know I can turn those stale bread ends and leftover beans and last couple oranges into a meal I feel excited about.
One of my favorite ways to serve this is drizzled over a bowl of simple beans, with some cubes of feta tossed in and maybe a few pomegranate seeds if I have them. But once you make it, you’ll probably find that it’s game on. Let me know how you decide to play.
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 teaspoons dried mint
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or, 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo)
Pinch of salt
Heat the olive oil and butter together in a small skillet, over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add the mint, cayenne and salt. It will sizzle and pop. Stir for about fifteen seconds, until you can really smell the mint. Remove from heat and pour immediately into a serving bowl.
I really love this with mint, but have also made it with basil and with rosemary. The bright cool minty-ness of the mint makes this drizzle into something different, and I find it especially enlivening on a cold gray night. The rosemary and the basil were both good, but they tasted more like lots of things I’ve had before. (The basil obviously tasted more like pesto, which I do love on beans, but this minty butter is something different in a really nice way.)