Sitting in the excruciating hip Ritual Roasters on Valencia and 22nd Sts right now, drinking an iced decaf americano (first proof of hipness: no decaf drip. Clearly, in this setting, decaf is as uncool as your mom's 5 lb can of Folger's) to chill out during this unexpected but blissful Bay Area heat wave. At the counter, displayed under a sign reading "Because you're not the selfish bitch everyone thinks you are," are little red gift cards emblazoned with chipper slogans like "You're an asshole without coffee." On the sound system is a violin-drenched Canto-pop remix of the James Bond theme. It hurts a little, really.
But then again, really good coffee, couches, wireless and all the soul patches you'd ever want to see! After a late night and early morning making lemon-poppyseed muffins (white flour! no quinoa! naughty, naughty!) and farm-produce frittata (spinach, arugula, tarragon, spring onions, and mint, all picked fresh by moi, sauteed with local eggs from Everett Farms), followed by homemade whole-wheat pita (really fun to make, and they actually puffed into useable pockets) with hummus, falafel, carrot-mint salad, more spinach, and peanut butter cookies both straight up and vegan, I got the heck outta Dodge and came up to to a happy, sun-drenched Cinco de Mayo San Francisco. Every tattooed girl and boy and all their dogs were celebrating by drinking Tecate and eating chips in Dolores Park; Lanette and I hit the worth-the-hype Bi-Rite Ice Creamery for mint-chip and butter-pecan scoops first, then joined the throngs basking on the grass for mimosas with her pals.
I had good intentions for boosting my farm fashion quota with cute and useful t-shirts and overalls from Buffalo Exchange and Thriftown. Which means, of course, that I am going back to tentland with a fabulous rhinestone-studded 50s party dress, bought at a Valencia Street fence sale for $5.
Of course, I had to make big bowls of mango salsa and guacamole, my favorite California foods, to go with the mojitos at Shar and Jackie's. These are so easy that they hardly garner actual recipes. Mango or avocado, lime juice, salt, red onion, cilantro, minced jalapeno, mixed up together to taste. Don't skimp on either the lime or the salt.
What you do need to make, however, is that carrot-mint salad, a made-up dish that was the hit of the plant-sale picnic, at least in my mind. Sort of vaguely Moroccan, and much better than that boring carrot-raisin salad that everyone makes. Because the flavors are concentrated, this works best as an addition to a sandwich or as one of several dishes, rather than as a stand-alone itme. The mint is really wonderful, and adds a nice zing that balances the carrot sweetness. No measurements, since it's dependent on the number of carrots you have and how much salad you want. The mint shouldn't overwhelm; you just want lots of nice green flecks among the orange.
Carrot Mint Salad
carrots, peeled and grated
mint, stemmed and finely chopped
a couple glugs of olive oil
a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
a splash of mild vinegar, like apple cider or rice
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients up; the dressing should lightly coat the carrots without sopping. Taste and adjust. Chill if not eating right away.