The day was planned around a jewelry sale at Fort Mason, under the pretense of shopping for gifts for other people. When you go to Fort Mason, there is only one place to have lunch, and that is the legendary vegetarian restaurant Greens.
Located on the north shore of the City, Greens is a stunning restaurant, beautiful enough to win over the most devoted carnivore. It has a quintessential Northern California feel, very open, with lots of light, a high ceiling with exposed wood beams, and incredible pieces of driftwood carved into tables and a huge, iconic sculpture in the front. One whole side of the restaurant is floor-to-ceiling windows, with a view of the harbor and the Golden Gate Bridge. On that day, we'd had a bit of rain in the morning, and though it had subsided, it was still overcast. The white boats against the gray sky looked like they belonged in a painting.
Greens serves brunch on the weekend, so between the four of us we ordered a mix of potato cakes, scrambled eggs, a portobello mushroom sandwich, and my farro spaghetti with currants, pistachios, and butternut squash. Not only was I the only one to get dinner food, I was the only one to order a glass of wine. But who drinks coffee with spaghetti?
To start, we ordered some gingerbread to share. It arrived as a thick slice with a dollop of cream cheese on the side, and we nibbled happily as we caught up on all kinds of news: engagements, kids, jobs, travel, and holiday plans. The tangy-sweet cream cheese was a perfect foil against the spicy gingerbread.
Much later, after jewelry shopping and returning home, I found myself thinking back on that gingerbread. The last time I made gingerbread was horrible; so horrible, in fact, that I was turned off gingerbread for quite awhile. But my love for gingerbread had been rekindled.
Although I am not a packrat, I do squirrel away recipes, and often will save them for months or years before using them. During this time, they are not forgotten, just awaiting their role in the spotlight. Last April, I saved a recipe from Food and Wine for Molasses-Gingerbread Cake with Mascarpone Cream. I decided to whip it up last night, but skip the orange confit and mascarpone cream. I'm sure these elements would elevate the cake to something more complex and elegant. But I like the simplicity of gingerbread, the basic, American, Laura Ingalls-ness of it. You don't need to dress it up for it to be delicious, homey, and satisfying.
I decided to bake the cake in my springform pan, because like my bundt pan, I always feel like using it. Whoever invented the springform, I love you, man! I like freeing the latch and popping off the sides. Yes, I'm simple.
The only thing about the recipe that was off was that it said to bake it for one hour and ten minutes. I had the good sense to check it after 50 minutes and it was perfectly done, moist and rich but not too dense. We enjoyed it with some Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream, which may come from a carton but beats homemade mascarpone cream in my book. The husband declared it the best gingerbread I had ever made.
This morning, I ate a wedge of it with a little cream cheese.