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Comfort Food - Issue #13

Sarah Lacy
Sarah Lacy
Kitchen crisis. AGAIN.

Cute haircut, huh? I've been going to Bateau in San Francisco for at least a decade. Won't change.
Cute haircut, huh? I've been going to Bateau in San Francisco for at least a decade. Won't change.
Palm Springs midcentury houses are a tiny slice of Americana that fades by the day…something once so affordable and middle class, now surging in price for millions of dollars. And something soooooooo not meant to last this long without some major help.
We are having what so many owners of these homes have faced: Pipe problems. Weeds are growing into our pipes and with them bringing a gross brown water if we use the sink or the dishwasher too much. Digging up tiles next week. :(
We just had to replace some pipe problems this past summer, going without a kitchen for far too long, so this was pretty depressing news. It’s not as bad this time. We won’t fully lose the kitchen. Insurance should cover a lot of it.
But we are having to use the sink sparingly. And so that means, eating off paper plates. It means buying prepped meals from the grocery store, because there’s only so much Palm Springs takeout I can take (out).
Last night, Paul had spent hours cleaning the house and begged me not to cook, but I had to actually eat something made. The small batch love was missing. I made some vegetarian chili, using just one pot, wiping up as I went and some garlic bread. It was so worth it. Absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t say I’m the best chef in Palm Springs, but sorry, I am top ten.
I do not feel like eating out, so I’m trying to figure out what else I can make that leaves as little of a footprint in the kitchen as possible.
Tonight, I am making some hot honey chicken sandwiches, with the chicken cooked in the slow cooker. That should be all that gets messy, and we can eat them on paper plates. I’m heading down to On the Mark in a little bit to get a selection of charcuterie so we can have a charcuterie dinner tomorrow night. We might make a raclette to go with it. The raclette pan is easy to clean, the only other prep is boiling potatoes. That’s a Paul speciality. Made for me because I love raclette and it reminds me of when he found us the perfect raclette place in Paris when we ended up there on a whim, having left a not-great retreat in Spain pre-pandemic.
How do you feel about sheet pan dinners? I never find them as satisfying as other people, but maybe that’s something to try out this week. Put down some aluminum foil or wax paper and there’s no clean up at all! The New York Times has a nice stash of recipes there, so I can look into that.
Why is sustenance so hard?
Speaking of, it’s Saturday and I am in a day of recovery. It’s been a long week and I’ve got no kids, I’m exhausted and it’s under 100 degrees (just barely!) I took Radish to the park this morning and he was off leash for the first time. He was 100% a GBR (“Good Boy Radish!”) and got so many treats. (Freshly baked from Bones and Scones, because he’s my son.)
We mostly had the park to ourselves. It’s a lovely time of year here. You get a few nice under 100 degree days, the holidays are over, and it’s still hot enough that tourists stay away. A few dogs came into the park, but GBR left it when I said “leave it” didn’t run off, and always came immediately when I called. He honestly spent most the hour in my lap in the shade of a tree, while I caught up with my sister.
After that, I took Radish home and went on a run. (The temperature pushing it a little bit…) Barely three miles.
Then I jumped in the pool, and dozed in the hammock with Radish laying underneath gnawing on an ox tail left over from the last San Francisco Farmer’s Market haul. It’s 2 pm, and work is calling. I have so much to catch up on this weekend, but I needed a good long morning of a break.
My stomach is also calling. I haven’t eaten and I’ve burned about 800 calories. Paul wants to go on a bike ride this afternoon, so I’m gonna binge of Sherman’s. Predictable I know, but I don’t have a ton of options for lunch here, and I can’t mess up the kitchen for two meals.
Below, some highlights from my week …still in a bit of a rut, but better than last week maybe.
Square Pie Guys vs. Sunset Squares
On Tuesday, I flew to San Francisco to vote, get a hair cut and meet with my new marketing team. We decided to order Detroit style pizza for lunch since that is the new mini-rage in San Francisco.
One person wanted Thai food, one wanted pizza, so I thought what about the Mapo Tofu pizza from Sunset Squares with the chili crisp on top?
It was closed, so we ordered from Square Pie Guys instead.
Paul thinks that SPG is better. I am avowedly a fan of SS. But, get this, THE CHRONICLE AGREED WITH HIM! It recently listed SPG on its list of top SF restaurants, leaving SS off. (!!!!!!!!)
I don’t think I’m wrong, but the pizza was delicious none the less. It’s like Memphis BBQ. You can split hairs on which is slightly better, but you can’t really lose.
Brenda’s
I am only adding this in here because I want you to know I don’t automatically love everything I’m served in San Francisco. When I landed, I ordered a shrimp po’ boy from Brendas.
Merely Ok. :(
It was fine.
Here’s what is in my mind when I call something “fine.” Eli’s last year at school in San Francisco, she had to pretend to be a boy. TBH, I think the school would have accepted her. But she didn’t and she knows these things.
When we did a test day at the school down here she wanted to move IMMEDIATELY. I told her that wasn’t going to happen, but I’d try to make it happen for fourth grade. (I did!)
“Everyday at school in San Francisco is FINE. It’s just FINE,” she said exapserated. She had friends, after all, she LOVED her teachers. But her test day down here was incredible.
It reminded me of what I always say about Eli: She brings so much COLOR into the world. You only realize the room was in black and white before after she’s entered it. A walking rainbow.
Fine is something I decided right then and there I NEVER wanted my kids to settle for. And, really, should I when I’m eating something as indulgent as a fried shrimp po’ boy?
Tyler’s
So when I wrote that opening above, I thought I was going to Sherman’s for lunch. For the first time that I’ve ever seen Sherman’s was closed!! I could tell because there wasn’t the usual mob out front.
Sure enough: Annual cleaning. Open in Palm Desert but weekends are pretty much the only time I don’t have to leave Palm Springs, so I decided to try something (gulp) new instead.
Disappointed by a lack of options, I decided to try Tylers. It’s near the plaza, and I always thought it looked cute. But you know, I’ve been dissuaded from trying new places in downtown PS. I took a risk.
And it was pretty good! Very burger and sandwich forward. I was so hungry everything looked good, so on the server’s suggestion I tried the ham and cheese melt with grilled onions.
Cynic as I am, I cannot find a thing wrong with this sandwich. Could it benefit from some fancy artisanal relish and a few thinly sliced cornichons? Sure. But it’s a nice size, not too messy, not greasy, the ham and cheese and bread are all delicious. I got a glass of chilled merlot and a basket of fries, soaked in a habanero hot sauce.
“Me and Bobby McGee” is playing, which I have sung to Evie most nights of her life as “Me and Froggy McGee” first and then “Me and whatever-stuffy-is-the-rage McGee.” I love that one day Evie will be drinking wine with friends in her 20s, this song will come on and they’ll all start singing it at the top of their lungs.
And then it’ll happen.
“Wait? What did you just say? Did you say froggy mcgee?”
The patio has the misters just turned up enough and it’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
I will definitely come back with the kids! Burgers and hot dogs. They are gonna love it. OMG. I have a fourth place to have lunch. Amen.
I also I absolutely adored our server. The owner came out and said she was only the owner if I had nice things to say. I certainly did! SO MANY NICE THINGS.
Cheeky’s
Everyone who comes to Palm Springs eats breakfast at Cheeky’s and lines up for what can be a lonnnnnnng time.
I had never been, astoundingly. I skipped right over tourist to resident more rapidly than expected, I guess, and Paul hates lining up for things.
But I was having breakfast with a friend on Friday after drop off, and I figured, hey, there won’t be a line at 8 am in September right?
Well, I was right and there wasn’t. And it was good. But you know? Just good. SLIGHTLY above “fine.” I was not nearly as wowed as I expected. I got the custard cheese eggs with the cheddar scone. The sausage was not cooked right and trying too hard to be fancy for my taste. The egg and scones were awesome. But I’m not sure I’d line up for it.
Mister Jiu’s part two
I told y'all I hadn’t been wowed in a while. Well Tuesday night in San Francisco, Andrea and I went to Mister Jiu’s. As you may recall, I was half wowed by Mister Jiu’s before. The much lauded duck… disappointed. And I love a Chinese duck!
This time we got the INCREDIBLE salt and vinegar shrimp chips, the incredible sourdough scallion pancake again. Added to it the blistered cucumbers which were good and the Thai eggplant. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: That was the best eggplant I have eaten in my life. I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this eggplant!! It was absolutely incredible. GO GET IT NOW IF YOU LIVE IN SF!!
We then got the salt-baked trout which was mild, and good, and an upgrade from the duck. But honestly, I was still reeling over the eggplant.
Officially wowed. My taste buds are not destroyed after all. Yay.
We went back to Andrea’s house for a night cap and then I walked home, sat in my backyard talking to Paul until late. The night was also electric because the recall didn’t go thru and my kids and I still have a safe place to live in this country. I had been carrying so much stress of that for weeks.
“You have to go to sleep! I don’t want you to miss your flight home tomorrow!” Paul kept saying as I swayed in my hammock, eye on the raccoon who came to say “hi” the night before. I could tell I’d had slightly too much whiskey, but it was the San Francisco night. I just didn’t want it to end.
(Don’t worry! I didn’t miss my flight!)
Ace made up for the switch in breakfast potatoes by sending the kids a free strawberry shortcake!
Ace made up for the switch in breakfast potatoes by sending the kids a free strawberry shortcake!
you wouldn't know it by the picture, but by far the best thing I ate in WEEKS!
you wouldn't know it by the picture, but by far the best thing I ate in WEEKS!
IT WAS JUST FINE. :(
IT WAS JUST FINE. :(
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Sarah Lacy
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Sarah Lacy
Sarah Lacy @sarahcuda

I'm the founder of Pando and Chairman Mom. I live half time between San Francisco and Palm Springs, ferretting out the best food between the two. Food is my love language.

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