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Comfort Food - Issue #17

Sarah Lacy
Sarah Lacy
I still don’t have a kitchen.

There's a reason they call it paradise.
There's a reason they call it paradise.
Oh, hello there! It’s been awhile, have you missed me?
I pride myself on being one of those people who writes every week when she says she’s gonna write every week. But I’ve been uncommonly busy of late. Trips to Hawaii for a conference, multiple trips to San Francisco, negotiating potentially huge deals, and generally living the life of a startup CEO with two kids and four animals.
I’ve had my ups-and-downs with food since we last spoke.
The biggest frustration we have is that we STILL do not have a kitchen, haven’t for months and won’t for months.
We have twice had issues with the pipes in our kitchen. This latest is the roots from an olive tree.
We live in a charming midcentury neighborhood in Palm Springs where every house was built by the Alexander Corporation and each house was given an olive tree.
Fast forward a few decades and we’ve all had issues with pipes and tree roots. It was our turn.
We’ve excavated all the pipes and fixed the problem, but arranging for the reconstruction has been a whole other mess. Because 2/3 of our little midcentury house is tile that isn’t made anymore, and that some of that tile was ripped up and the concrete jackhammered to get to the pipe, it’s snowballing into a $40k project that’s a way bigger construction job that we anticipated. Fortunately, insurance is covering almost all of it, and fortunately we are doing it in Palm Springs where everything is about 100x easier than in San Francisco, but YEESH!
Not having a kitchen is making everything harder. Even in the food paradise of San Francisco, I get sick of takeout eventually.
I’ve been trying to come up with things that I can make in an aluminum baking dish, because no one wants to do dishes in a bathroom sink. Enchiladas have been a God send. I might need to bust out a tuna noodle casserole next. Last night we broke down and seared some delicious steaks in a skillet, with baked potatoes.
We’ve been relying on pre-made meals a lot, which I’ve never done in my life. Gelson’s in Rancho Mirage has a lasagna that will make you weep. (In a good way.) I have a chicken pot pie from Bristol Farms for dinner tonight. And you know that Costco Chinese chicken salad that has captured the hearts of Americans everywhere has also been in rotation.
I sort of hate it, because I pride myself on making delicious home cooked meals. I’m sure my cooking is healthier. But, you know, the lasagna from Gelson’s and a bagged salad is a lot easier.
A few stand out things I’ve eaten lately…
Our trip to Hawaii was for a conference, before you get too jealous, but it was still Maui and it was so wonderful to see so many folks we hadn’t seen in two years. We ate almost entirely resort food and it was…mostly lacking.
I seem to only go to Hawaii for conferences in the last decade, always stay at a big resort and always have food that is mostly just OK.
This is jarring to me, because the first time I ever went to Hawaii, I got a house with friends in Hilo and we cooked mostly, because we didn’t have a lot of money. One of my friends is Korean, and so we made fusion Southern and Asian dinners and marveled over how EVERYTHING we ate tasted better than on the mainland. Maybe I need a trip like that again to do Hawaii right.
I did enjoy the Ritz Carlton’s Nachos.
I always get nachos when I land in Hawaii. Every resort seems to have their take on them. These had a four cheese blend in béchamel and were awesome. I love a good nacho. But after three or so orders, I’m good with nachos for a few years.
The one truly standout thing I ate was a veggie burger that had black beans and beets in it. With a soft Hawaiian bun, cheese, and Thousand Island-style spread, it was absolutely incredible. I’d love to find a way to recreate it.
Paul’s dad– who is a chef and has owned and managed hotels throughout his career– makes a world famous burger that involves beets. Maybe at the holidays, I’ll pump him for info and see if I can reverse engineer a veggie burger version…
Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack has long been one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. When my ex-husband and I were young and poor and didn’t have kids we would go there every Sunday night. One of our only meals out. We’d split some incredible appetizer, plus the spaghetti & meatballs (I think it was $7 back then?) and the garlic bread and often the peanut butter bar.
It’s the meal of my formative years in SF. The happy times in my marriage. The staff there thought we were one of those couples who would never split.
We only disagreed about the garlic bread. Geoff hated that you could taste it for two days after you ate it. To me, that was the sign of good garlic bread.
I stopped going after we got divorced. Work, life, also I think it was too sad for a while. A few years ago, I was heartened to hear my kids talk about Emmy’s. Geoff had started taking them. I mostly let him have that with them. But a few times, I’ve ordered takeout. It’s a rare thing the three of us all love.
A few weeks ago, the kids and I had an absolutely incredible weekend trip back to San Francisco. It could be one of those “three perfect days in …” features in a magazine. Our hearts felt so full that when the rainstorms cancelled our flights home Sunday we all cheered.
It rained and rained our final day. We had a long playdate with friends, kids Nintendo'ing out, adults sipping mimosas and eating bagels and catching up. We bundled our wet selves into a Lyft and had no plans the rest of the evening because we were supposed to be on a plane.
I hugged them close and said, “What about we go home, take some early hot baths and then order some Emmy’s and snuggle, make popcorn and watch ‘Sing’?”
It’s hard to know who was the most delighted by the idea. It was as delicious as I remember. And we even got the peanut butter bar for dessert.
Nido’s Flauta
I flew back to San Francisco this past week for about 24 hours of meetings, and an IRL book event celebrating “Dear White Women” (which you should go order right now.) The authors of the book are helping build a course for us on anti-biased parenting. (You should also go sign up for that right now.)
My partner in crime, Adimika, was interviewing them and I flew up to show some support. I also had a hunch margaritas would be involved.
Cherissa, who works in our marketing department, came with me and as the event wrapped and she yawned, I said, “Oh sorry, did you think we’d be going home after this?”
“We’re going for drinks aren’t we?” she said a bit trepidatiously.
Yes, we were. We went to Nido’s Backyard in Oakland and it was incredible. It was Cherissa and my second Mexican meal of the day, but when in the Bay Area…
We got some smoky margaritas first that Adimika and I were not fans of, but they were replaced by some spicy ones with muddled Serrano chilis. Delicious. (Be clear with them what you mean by “spicy”)
The best thing we ate was the potato flautas, believe it or not. They were perfectly crisped and proportioned and just one of those bites that you get in the Bay Area, where you are like “HOW?” and then like “Oh, this is why it costs so much to live here…”
That alone was worth the flight.
See you next week unless my life explodes further. And forward this to a friend!!
First stop in SF? Goat Hill Pizza
First stop in SF? Goat Hill Pizza
After the pizza, Christopher's Books + Bell & Trunk Flowers + Chez Maman for sorbet and crepes
After the pizza, Christopher's Books + Bell & Trunk Flowers + Chez Maman for sorbet and crepes
Emmy's <3
Emmy's <3
Hawaiian Nachos + Mai Tai
Hawaiian Nachos + Mai Tai
"I look like a spy in this picture!" (I was thinking Jason Mraz. . .)
"I look like a spy in this picture!" (I was thinking Jason Mraz. . .)
We can measure our friendship in margaritas.
We can measure our friendship in margaritas.
so good they will shock you to your core
so good they will shock you to your core
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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