For the 4th of July I decided to try my hand at bagels. A few years ago the local bagel shop shut down and we haven’t had a good place nearby to get bagels, often settling for some not that great ones from the grocery store. So I finally said “just do it man.” After some online research on different recipes and methods, I settled on something that I could accomplish in one morning. In the end the whole process from start to finish took about 3 hours.
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 (1.5) Tbsp cane sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water +/- 1/4 cup
2 1/2 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (original recipe called for 3.5 cups bread flour but I substituted some whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp salt
I started by adding the sugar and yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water and letting it sit for 5 minutes untouched. Then I mixed it up to incorporate it all together. This formed a collagenous mass (I had never before actually mixed up the yeast after letting it sit in water).
Next I mixed up the flour and salt. I created a well in the middle and added the yeast/sugar/water mixture and then added the 1 1/4 cup of warm water. The +/- 1/4 cup of water is dependent on your locale (temperature, humidity, etc). I ended up adding in an extra 1/4 cup of water but realized this was too wet so incorporated some flour back into it. This was a relatively dry dough and much easier to knead compared to my bread doughs. It’s really hard to say exactly how you know if it is too dry or wet but I’ve been working for dough long enough (really it’s not even that long) that I had a sense of how moist/tacky I needed the dough.
I then proceeded to knead the dough mixture for 10 minutes. In a lightly oiled (I used olive oil) bowl, I coated the dough ball and covered the bowl with a towel.
The dough was proofed in my oven (proof setting) for 1 hour.
The dough had actually proofed more than twice its original size, I punched it down and covered with a towel and let sit for an additional 10 minutes.
For my birthday this year, I said f*ck it and decided to indulge a little.
To get a reservation, you need to be on your game. They only take online reservations nowadays and release tables for a 2 month period at a time. So, a few months ago I put on my calendar when they were opening reservations for May and June and hopped on the site when it opened. I was amazed how quickly times and days booked up…within minutes of opening. I managed to snag a Friday lunch time close to my actual birthday.
I’ve never actually dined at multi-starred Michelin fine dining restaurant before, so wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I specifically didn’t want to read too much about other’s experiences because I didn’t want to go into the meal with bias. I read maybe 1 review but mostly for logistics about parking, etc. Prior to this, the only experience at Michelin starred restaurant was at one-starred Solbar in the Solage resort in Calistoga.
We have many numerous trips to Napa so getting there I was on autopilot and didn’t have to worry about directions and which way to go. There was the expected traffic on a Friday morning so we had planned accordingly. We arrived early to Yountville and sat on a bench in front of the French Laundry’s garden (across the street from the restaurant). It was a beautiful day though a bit warm (still I am amazed at just how much cooler it is in Napa than it is in Sac).
Even though it was still a little bit before our reservation, we were anxious to get in and start the experience so we walked through the famous blue doors early.
Just inside the door was a small lobby that felt almost like a boutique hotel/B&B. We were led upstairs to our table immediately. The decor and feel of the place was much like you were eating in someone’s home.
Two weekends ago for the Cesar Chavez holiday, we took road trip over to the coast, north of SF. We hadn’t been to the Bodega Bay before and thought it’d be fun. We found a nice quiet Air BnB that allows dogs. Since check in wasn’t until 3 pm, we woke up on Friday and did our normal thing and packed and finally left the house after lunchtime. It was a relatively short drive that took us past Napa and Sonoma and through Petaluma up into Sebastopol, a small town about 7 miles west of Santa Rosa. Our Air BnB was actually located a few more miles west of this area up in a little hill/mountain area. I really liked that there was a grove of Redwoods right outside the getaway.
After getting settled in, we took the dog with us to one of the dog-friendly beaches, Doran Beach. This was basically a small finger-like projection from the land and was the southern border of Bodega Bay. When we arrived, it was low tide in Bodega and it looked more marsh-like than an actual bay. Later on when we drove by it another day, it looked more like a bay and ocean so it was cool to see the two different levels. Along this litter sliver of land were a bunch of people camping right by the beach and water. The last time I camped was in MI where you drive up to the camp area and set up a tent. Most people on this beach area had trailers or campers but also had some tents set up. Reminded me of a different life I had.
A few weeks ago I decided to make some bread for my lunch (I’d bring the bread with some deli meat and sliced cheese – very European I know). I decided to just make two boules and bring one for a co-worker who has asked for me to bring some bread for her previously (little did I know that she’d be out sick). I went back and found an old recipe and tweaked it slightly.
350 g bread flour
364 g water
3 g yeast
350 g bread flour
266 g water
14 g salt
I mixed up the preferment and let it sit for about 30 minutes. I then added that to the remaining ingredients above. I mixed these up thoroughly and then let it sit for the water to absorb before I kneaded it.
I then proceeded to knead it for approximately 15 minutes until it was relatively smooth and I could do the “window” test – not perfectly but close enough. I then set it in a bowl, covered it and used the proof setting on the oven to allow it to rise (double in size).
I pulled the dough out, did the knead and fold method a few times with 30 minutes in between before dividing the dough into 2.
Last weekend I ran the Shamrock’n half marathon here in town. I had previously done this race 5 years ago and actually PRed it with my only sub-2. I hadn’t even done much speed work and somehow just mentally pushed myself to a sub-2. This year I had no time goal and just wanted to run a decent race.
Race overview: Easy packet pick-up, good amount of porta-potties at race start, flat and fast course, good weather, nice finish line amenities.
The night before the race I had my usual pizza pre-race meal. Initially we were going to eat at Federalist Public House, but it was packed and so we ended up just getting the pizzas to go. Race morning came early as per my usual. I hadn’t realized that this race fell on daylight savings time until the week before the race. So with the “spring forward,” I was getting one less hour of sleep than usual. I didn’t sleep quite as well because of anxiety of the time change but probably managed a decent 5.5-6 hours probably, which is a lot better than when I first started doing races.
In the last 5 years, technology has really taken off and this year for parking you had the option of reserving a spot in one of the local parking garages/lots before race day. On the web site they didn’t list the parking structure I previously parked in that wasn’t too far from the race start/finish. I made the decision to park in Old Sacramento, which was about a 3/4 mile walk to the race start. I chose that lot because it meant not having to take the freeway and also I was hoping to avoid traffic and it was a success. The trek from the parking lot to Raley Field and the race start took me across the Tower Bridge.