Comfort Food - Issue #9

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Sarah Lacy
Sarah Lacy
My nine month working vacation has begun

Me and Sumner Radstone on our morning caftan desert walk
Me and Sumner Radstone on our morning caftan desert walk
Well here we are. In the desert. For good. Or, at least, for the school year.
I am telling myself that I am on a nine month working vacation, while my kids go to school here.
“It’s kinda weird that your boyfriend lives here if you don’t,” Paul said.
Pssssh! That just makes us modern, babe.
It *is* a great place to be on a nine-month vacation. I have been so preoccupied about how much I love about San Francisco, that I’ve lost sight of how much I love about Palm Springs. I’ve been reminded of a lot of it this week.
I love how isolated I am. I can spend the whole day mostly in my own head. I wake up at 6:15 here, Radish has made me a morning person, and the desert is just glorious in the mornings in the summer. Today, I didn’t have the kids, so I woke up at 6:25, let Radish out while I poured some coffee and checked email, did some things that needed immediate attention. Then we went on a thirty minute walk.
Radish could win an Olympic medal in walking. Slack on the leash, walks at my side, sits politely when other dogs pass. This dog was born to walk on a leash. No training needed! (That’s about the only thing I can say that about. Puppies are INTENSE.)
I blast music on my AirPods while Radish and I roam, seeing maybe two people. I go home, check email again, bring in the papers for Paul and pour him coffee, then go on a run. Then jump in the pool to cool down. Radish runs around the pool while I’m in it, making sure I’m ok and getting more sillies out.
And then I dry off in the hammock with my laptop. By – I don’t know– 8 am (?) I’ve written my daily newsletter, checked in with everyone, read the news, done my emails and anything urgent, burned 600ish calories, and I’ve spoken to no one.
My friend Adimika just went on a silent meditation retreat in Peru and the idea of that just sounded like the most opulent thing I could imagine. The luxury NOT TO SPEAK for a week. I am so sick of speaking. So it’s like I get that every morning here.
Well, not when the kids are around of course, but they get dropped off at school at 7:30. I walk them up, and might say hi to the head of school, but I don’t know anyone else, so there’s no 30 minute parking lot mafia chit chat like I had at my old school.
Wow, I’ve said a lot without mentioning food, huh? That’s cause I’m back to intermittent fasting, and I don’t eat until noon-ish. I’m slightly half ass'ing it. I’m bad at cutting out that last glass of wine after 8 pm. Or 9 pm. But I’m being kind to me. It’s less about losing weight and more about a morning of hydration and focus and sweating out allllllll the toxins. In a lot of ways, I’m recovering from my own hot vax summer. It was A LOT.
I am really glad for the peace and isolation.
Lunch is usually the meal I struggle with most but it’s been amazing this week. I have a Daily Harvest smoothie most days, and this week I’ve been adding to that sumptuous fruit trays. I ordered a $40 fruit box from Four Star Seafood. They easily sent $200 of fruit. I have no ideas how the economics work or if my order was actually doubled or they just had a lot of fruit to unload? But we got like 30 stone fruits, 5 pints of various cherry tomatoes, two large melons, apples and two kinds of pears.
I struggle to eat everything that comes in a fruit of veggie box because it goes in a drawer and I forget what we have. But I put all the fruit and the tomatoes in large bowls and put them in the fridge. Everyday I test to see which is getting ripe and chop them up for a fruit plate. If I don’t finish it at lunch we graze on it all day. I augmented it with a few pieces of cheese and this incredible ham I got from On the Mark.
On the Mark and Four Star are saving me. I feel like I have access to the same fresh and pantry staples I got in SF.
Tonight, we are having our first slumber party. Just one kid from school, who oddly enough went to our school in San Francisco last year too! It’s been a sleepover promised all summer long.
Here’s the thing. Paul and I are really similar. That means when we both get excited about something we BOTH go overboard. We’ve done that a bit with this house. I wanted to make it a slumber party wonderland not just for my kids and their friends but me and my friends when they visit.
We have a 1973 Airstream in the yard, that’s my favorite spot for sleepovers with the kids. We have a pool (obviously… it’s Palm Springs). We have a large FunBoy oversized gold crown floaty with cup holders. You can lean back on the prongs of the crown and cactus your arms and it’s the best chest opener I’ve ever experienced. Catherine and Adimika and I spent hours one night, floating on it talking about the love life of someone 2/3 of us had never met.
We got a popcorn machine, a cotton candy machine, and the kids and Paul proudly presented me with a commercial grade margarita machine, since I no longer have the Beauty Bar down the street, and margs & market every Thursday with my friends. It came in a huge crate like it was an artifact in Indiana Jones.
We are going try to get all three working for tonight’s slumber party and have a little carnival set up in the garage (There’s AC in there! Don’t worry!) The margarita machine has two sides, so we’ll have virgin strawberry daiquiris in the other side.
Pizza for the kids for dinner, and brisket from FourStar Seafood for the grownups with some kale. I love lacinato kale. Triple wash it, and salt and pepper it with high quality salt and pepper. It’s delicious as is. No need to over do it.
Do you think they’ll sleep? I plan on sleeping whether or not they do. I wake up at 6:15 these days!
What else I’ve been eating …
8 tables and a trillion courses
I don’t know how this happened but I forgot to write about our most opulent meal yet: 8 Tables by George Chen. As the name suggests, it’s a limited seating. You go upstairs in sort of a speak-easy like vibe, sit down and they just serve you course after course.
It started with a matrix of nine tiny gorgeous lacquer bowls with one bite each in them. It represented each of the flavors of Chinese cooking. It was the most elegant way of opening up a palate I’ve ever experienced. There was a gorgeous crudo with cucumber scales, a tiny perfect Peking duck bite. It was the most opulent meal I’ve had in a long time.
I love that it was incredibly elevated cooking that featured and put forward local ingredients and local wine and sake makers. They gave me a card with all the wine pairings that I treasured until… I lost it. :( I wanted to tell you about the sake from Oakland that was basically the best I’ve ever had.
I guess I have to go back …
Tuna Melt comfort
I am finishing up this newsletter on a Saturday at Sherman’s Deli. One of the things I love most about Palm Springs is how little we leave the house. I am saving at least $100 a weekend not entertaining the kids, because they are happy to just be.
This is why this house was such a lifesaver (maybe literally) during Covid. It was unthinkable to consider not going to a park or museum or anything for a YEAR+ in San Francisco. But here, I can’t get them to leave the house. There’s a pool and a puppy and an Airstream and a hammock and Nintendo. What else do kids want?
But….. I woke up this morning after two weeks back and felt a little cabin fever. Paul is doing Jenny Craig religiously, but I’ve been eating well and running again, and I wanted something delicious, damn the calories.
I wanted specifically: A Sherman’s Tuna Melt. And I didn’t want to get it to go as I have most of the last two years. I wanted to sit on the New York Deli feeling patio and eat it with their sh*tty but satisfying tiny bottle cava mimosas. I wanted to take Radish, but A) Paul said we should spend two minutes apart B) Paul pointed out that Sherman’s clientele are not the most mask conscious and didn’t want a trillion people in our faces telling us how cute Radish is with the Delta variant hitting Palm Springs.
It was a good thing I was specifically craving Shermans.
It’s splash house this weekend, when all of LA descends on our tiny town for DJs and hotel pools. So going to the Ace was out of the question. Cheeky’s would be even more line-y than usual. Persimmon Bistro is my other lunch go-to, and it’s closed til September.
When we first came here we definitely over-indulged on Sherman’s a lot, but have tailed off since. (All the food is SO HUGE. It is not sustainable.)
There are so many things I love here. The ham sandwich is incredible. But the tuna melt has just captured my heart.
I grew up hating tuna anything, but one day a tuna melt suddenly sounded good. I couldn’t explain it. It might have come to me in a dream. I once had a dream that tomato juice seemed like a great idea, and I started drinking it the next day. Regular readers know, a dream convinced me to find and acquire Radish. And I had a dream the other week that I was rollerskating with ease, so that may be my next adventure. (I also had a dream last night that Radish was in performing arts school and I woke up screaming to Paul something about “THE CAST! THE CAST! AUDITIONS!” He was worried I was having a stroke.)
All that said, I’m still super picky about tuna melts. I don’t like them too mayo-y, or too tuna-y and there has to be the right cheese ratio. And the right cheese (American is ideal; Swiss is a non-starter). Rye bread is a MUST.
I like the one at the Grove in SF, which has olive oil not mayo. And the one at Persimmon Bistro is awesome too, but a little more panini and refined. But this one at Sherman’s is the best classic tuna melt I have ever had. Catherine Connors and I get them EVERY TIME she drives out from Pasadena and they always make me smile and think of our friendship. So that’s a bonus tuna melt win, too.
I missed my window for my morning run today, because I crashed hard after a night out at Farm and late swimming in the pool last night. It’s under 100 but still too hot. But tomorrow I’ll work off the tuna melt, because Paul and I are taking the tramway up to San Jacinto to hike our faces off in the cool mountain air.
I may go on a long walk later today though because I am listening to a delightful book, that I thought I would hate, but I love. I’d like to escape mindlessly in the desert with it if I actually finish my board deck, marketing emails, this newsletter and the other Saturday work I’ve got going on.
Farm
Have we talked about Farm?
It’s a charming restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. Charming is exactly the perfect word. It has a Mr. Tumnus style lamp post in the middle of the patio FFS. It’s lots of vignetted patio sections all with grass peeking between cobblestones and flowering vines weaving through trellises. There’s a bossanova style singer there most nights. The service is always warm and personal, but also super professional. I got into a long talk with our server from last night about learning to do fancy braids via YouTube.
It’s a five course menu only at dinner, but it’s a staggering $50 a person. I don’t know how that’s sustainable in the state of California.
Is it always the best meal I’ve ever had? To be honest, no. They change the menu constantly, and try things and it doesn’t always work. But it’s good. Really good for PS, and there’s always one course (at least) that’s standout good. I had a gazpacho there that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten here.
It’s French-ish. What do I mean by that? I got brie in my mashed potatoes once. (And it was delicious! Not complaining!)
Last night, I had a fried softshell crab to start, and it was awesome. I was not super inspired by the entree choices, so I reluctantly went with the cauliflower steak because at least it wouldn’t be heavy.
I was super pleasantly surprised! It was cooked to perfection (not charred, but still crisp) and had the PERFECT HINT of garlic throughout. Cherry tomatoes on top and some drizzles of oil and such were all it needed.
We are only doing dinner out once a week here, to recover from SF, save money and save calories. It was Farm this week. Next week, Mr. Lyons again.
Cooking up a storm
I’ve been cooking up a storm with my whopping $80 weekly spend on a veggie box and fruit box from Four Star Seafood. It’s like an iron chef challenge to make it all. My last thing left this past week was eggplant.
I once read something about how to fry up crisp eggplant but forgot how and was too lazy to look it up. So I thinly sliced it, dragged it through egg wash and then flour. And put it in the fridge for two hours to get gummy before dredging it again.
You know what? It was delicious and a texture totally unlike last times I made it. It tasted not soggy, but had the consistency of a good scallion pancake, believe it or not, and a sweet delicate flavor cooked in good olive oil and good salt and pepper. It would be delicious as a pancake sub for a good Peking duck.
I pan crisped some chickpeas and was going to simmer it all in an Indian sauce the pour it over the eggplant, but I could not open the jar. Paul wasn’t here, so I just ate the chickpeas and eggplant as they were with salt and pepper and it was delicious and satisfying.
Do you have awesome tips for cooking squash and zucchini? Please email me. I get so much every week and I just bake them in the oven. I feel like I could be doing more…
Next week, I am going to San Francisco for a board meeting. Fortunately, we have a lot of good news.
Tune in to see what I eat for 48 hours!
It's like Martha Stewart's kitchen in here
It's like Martha Stewart's kitchen in here
white bean sloppy joe's with tomato long simmered romano beans
white bean sloppy joe's with tomato long simmered romano beans
tuna melt perfection; mimosa adequacy
tuna melt perfection; mimosa adequacy
soft shell tomatoa at Farm
soft shell tomatoa at Farm
the gorgeous ambiance of farm + my cute new romper that I got in every color
the gorgeous ambiance of farm + my cute new romper that I got in every color
PALATE OPENER at 8 tables!!!
PALATE OPENER at 8 tables!!!
More 8 tables brilliance
More 8 tables brilliance
the perfect bite of reinvented duck
the perfect bite of reinvented duck
what??? gorgeous dessert after 10000000 courses this pretty at 8 tables
what??? gorgeous dessert after 10000000 courses this pretty at 8 tables
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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