I remember meeting two girls from California one summer at a soccer camp in Boulder, Colorado. They seemed cooler than anybody I'd ever met and were viciously good at soccer. They were friendly too, which only made it harder for me to suppress my envy. I remember thinking, do you even REALIZE that you live in one of the most amazing places in the world? That you have beaches, mountains, forests, and pretty much ZERO humidity?! I assumed all Californians were ungrateful. I assumed these people walked outside of their bougainvillea-covered houses and didn't ever say to themselves, BOY AM I LUCKY!
And now I live here. And I have to pinch myself everyday because I really just can't believe it. It turns out Californians aren't as ungrateful as I thought...but I still feel like I'm the only one geeking out about the damn bougainvillea.
I'm particularly partial to the Bay Area - it's a magical place. In less than an hour you can be amongst rolling hills covered in grape vines or you can be hiking your way through a forest of redwood trees 300 feet tall.
After the farmers' market last Saturday, Hameed and I hopped in the car and drove south along the coast on Highway 1. We passed beaches and cliffs, stopped for a bite to eat in Santa Cruz, and then wound are way up to Big Basin Redwoods State Park. This place took my breath away and the whole day made me happy and grateful to be where I am.
My dad uses the term Peak Life Experience to refer to moments/days/events that you just know you'll never forget. Moments when everything - the smells, the sounds, the visuals, the conversation - is experienced on a different level and is burned permanently into your memory and into your life. These moments define us and let me tell you, this day was a Peak Life Experience. I can still hear Gil Scott-Heron's Winter in America that was playing from the radio in our car as we drove back home along Skyline Ridge at dusk.
Sunday we took it easy. We picked up a bottle of wine and spent the afternoon snacking on tuna tartare to our hearts' content. This recipe is one of Ina Garten's and I've made it countless times. It's delicious. I like to add some fresh grated ginger for a little extra kick. Make sure your ahi tuna is sushi-grade and super fresh. Happy summer everyone.
TUNA TARTARE (adapted very slightly from Ina Garten)
- 3/4 lb. very fresh tuna steak
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- grated zest of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 6 dashes of Tabasco sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 scallions
- 1 small jalapeño, seeds removed and minced
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted and cut into 1/3-inch dice.
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the avocado and sesame seeds. Mix well, and pour the mixture over the tuna. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Add the toasted sesame seeds and season to taste. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers.