Chris Macias is a longtime culture and wine writer for the Bee, and within the last year or so he has stepped up his food writing game. He is the proud papa to a baby daughter (and a son), and he shared his busy new dad food diary with us.
Though I eat out fairly often as part of the job, I’ve been in more of a nesting mode these past few months since our daughter, Minka, was born. I do all the cooking at home, but if I’m coming home on the later side from work, I usually grab some form of take-out for the fam or eat leftovers.
This diary just so happened to coincide with Sacramento Beer Week, so my diet this time is a little more hop heavy than usual.
SUNDAY March 2
Breakfast – I rarely eat much for breakfast, but every morning basically starts with this: A cup of black coffee in my favorite Black Flag-styled mug. For brewing, I’ve been loyal to my trusty AeroPress since Blair Anthony Robertson turned me on to this a few years back. The AeroPress kind of looks like an, uh, “male enhancement device,” (Becky’s note: I once had this exact same remark edited out of an SNR piece for vulgarity!) but it costs just $30 or so and brews one exceptionally smooth and rich cup o’ joe. My favorite beans of late are from Chocolate Fish, but was in a pinch lately and settled on a pound of Boyd’s from Nugget. That’s what I’m having here.
Lunch – I made a pot of posole on Saturday night and ate some more of that for lunch (PIC). I’ve been on a posole kick these last few months, and really digging the products from Rancho Gordo out of Napa. Along with their prized heirloom beans, Rancho Gordo sells a prepared dried hominy that you soak and then simmer for a couple hours with onion until they blossom. The texture is so much fuller, and now it’s hard going back to the hominy from a can.
Dinner – It’s Academy Awards night, so my wife and I had our good friend Stephanie over to watch all the glitz and play armchair Joan Rivers. For appetizers I whipped up some party wings (PIC) with a simple marinade of soy sauce + brown sugar + sesame oil + garlic + green onion, plus a snack tray with French bread and remaining pieces of Parma prosciutto and sweet coppa that I’d bought at Block Butcher Bar.
I cooked up some pasta carbonara by the time they started handing out the best actor/actress awards. The recipe comes from “The Family Meal” by Ferran Adria, (PIC) and this cookbook has been one of my go-tos over the past year. There’s no spheres or modern gastronomy madness here. These are fairly straightforward staff meals once served before service at ElBulli, and I like that the recipes are extrapolated for 2,6, 20 or 75 people.
MONDAY March 3
Breakfast – Coffee and a hella big orange.
Lunch – I was under the gun to finish some writing and didn’t come up for air until 3 p.m. or so. Ended up walking a couple blocks down Q St. to PourHouse for a taste of that elusive unicorn beer known as Pliny the Younger. Sipped on that PTY while chatting with Adam Pechal, ordered a tri-tip sandwich w/ sweet potato fries to-go and ate that at my desk.
Dinner– Didn’t have any. That late lunch was enough of a gut buster to hold me over.
TUESDAY March 4
Breakfast – Coffee, and a slice of toast w/ cream cheese.
Lunch – I’m part of a Tuesday lunch bunch founded quite a few years back by Sonny Mayugba and formerly known as “Tuli Tuesday” – but had to change the name and location when Tuli Bistro shut down. Lately, we’ve been meeting at The Red Rabbit, and Brian McKenna of Abstract Entertainment and DJ Crook were part of this week’s crew. Many, many scoops have emerged from these Tuesday lunch bunches.
I ordered “The Chop” salad, which was loaded with bits of egg, bacon, bleu cheese and salami. My man Leon Moore was working the bar and whipped up some juicy “Fantasy Island” styled mocktails that included a bit of strawberry jam and bitters.
Afternoon pick-me-up – I’m working on a story related to one of the cooks at Mother, but had some time to kill on the K St. Mall before he showed up for his shift. Popped into Estelle’s Patisserie, ordered a café au lait and ogled all those deserts behind the counter.
Dinner – I hoofed over to Pangaea for their Sacramento Beer Week “surf & turf” night, with brews by Hitachino Nest and bar bites from Rob Rossi and guest chef Billy Ngo. I’ve been a huge nerd for Hitachino Nest beers ever since Josh Nelson from The Selland Group turned me on to them a few years ago, and it’s rare to find them on draft in the states. Panagea had three of them: the White Ale, Real Ginger Brew and IPA. I opted for the Ginger Brew, and woofed down Billy’s “chicken thigh oyster kushiyaki” and the Pangaea Roll w/ spicy tuna, apples and more. These were much more straightforward foods than you’d find at Kru, but the sweet and spicy flavors from both these plates worked perfectly with the beer.
And hello, Nick Miller arrived with a couple cans of Heady Topper to share. A crew soon formed at the end of the bar, including Sacramento Foodways’ own Ryan and Anne Donahue, plus Guido and Shaun Slaughter also in the house. Nick poured us all some Heady Topper that he scored in a beer trade, and also broke out a Beachwood Amalgamator that he recently picked up in southern Cali. Man, I was in hops heaven with these two great brews representing the best in west and east coast IPA styles. Think of it like the beer version of Tupac vs. Biggie Smalls, but everyone was a winner and nobody got shot. Thanks Uncle Nick!
WEDNESDAY March 5
Breakfast – Coffee + toast
Lunch – Kept it simple with a bowl of shoyu ramen at RyuJin. As much as I love their broth and the proper amount of “koshi” chew on the noodles, RyuJin’s soft poached “aji tama” eggs always steal the show for me. I looked up some recipes for them after I finished my bowl, and need to try these the next time I make ramen. When I have time at home, I like to make a shoyu ramen broth that’s based on the recipe from “Japanese Farm Food” but spiked with David Chang’s Momofuku tare sauce for extra flavor. One of these eggs a la RyuJin would go perfectly in there.
Dinner – I guess it’s a noodles sort of day. I boiled up some spaghetti and added this sauce packet that I get at Oto’s, of all places. It’s a Japanese brand called S&B, and for each batch of spaghetti you add a prepackaged oil that’s infused with garlic and other stuff, and top with a seasoning packet of red pepper flakes, parsley and other goodies that’ll make your breath hum. This isn’t the healthiest thing ever, but hey, it works well in a pinch. Oh, and my wife also brought me a spicy pork taco from the new Tako in Davis. Yeah, pass the breath mints.
THURSDAY March 6
Breakfast – Coffee + toast w/ cream cheese.
Lunch – The recent closure of Café Au Lait on 21st and P was a blow to members of Team Scoopy who needed a quick sandwich fix while managing deadlines. In this case, I walked down a few of those especially janky blocks of 21st St. to N Street Café. The order: a simple lunch special of a ham on wheat, side of pasta salad and bottle of water.
Dinner – I’m working on a story related to one of the cooks at Pangaea, and headed there after work to catch him in action. The night also happened to be Pangaea’s “Rare Beer Dinner,” so I nibbled on a couple of dishes, including the goat cheese salad and spicy bacon w/ scallops. And hey, Nick Miller and Guido were back once again and we all sampled some Fantome Saison, Cantillon Iris and Pliny the Younger, which was paired with that spicy scallops dish. Good times.
FRIDAY March 7
Breakfast – Fridays in The Bee’s newsroom means free bagels for staff. I scarfed down half a bagel with a cup of coffee from the newsroom break room.
Lunch – And now, another staple of Sacramento Bee staffers: I *Heart* Teryiaki on 21st near N St. The owners changed last year, and the new folks have upgraded their HVAC and also upgraded the menu a bit. I usually get the tonkatsu plate, but went with a straightforward chicken teriyaki special with extra salad.
Dinner – TGIF meant grilled cheese sandwiches with turkey bacon for the family, plus a side of spicy pickles from Sonoma Brinery to cut through all that buttery goodness. I sliced up a pineapple for dessert, and then played Atari 2600 games with my son.
SATURDAY March 8
Breakfast – Black coffee and a banana.
Lunch – My son and I headed to opening day of RiverPark’s little league to watch one of our pals play. The snack shack was in full effect, and hey it’s baseball, so I had a hot dog with chips and a bottle of water. God bless ‘Merica!
Dinner – We had a couple of NY steaks in the ‘fridge that needed cooking, so I gave them a simple seasoning of salt + pepper and fired up the Weber. My wife was craving a burrito so I heated up some Mi Abuelita tortillas on a skillet, and she added her steak to that with some other fixins’. I was thinking more along the lines of Japanese, and that called for a simple ponzu sauce to go with my steak slices via a recipe I got a few years ago from Mai Pham. (If anyone wants it, email me and I’ll share).
BTW, for the ponzu sauce and other Japanese cooking, I always advocate making your own dashi stock instead of using that instant stuff. All you need is some kombu (seaweed) and katsuobushi (shaved bonito). Here’s a good method for making dashi (http://www.japanesefoodreport.com/2010/02/chef-yamadas-dashi.html) , though Taro Arai’s mom – who makes a mean bowl of ramen – said she’d never soak kombu for an extended period of time like this method. Either way, give it a shot.