A couple of weekends ago, the husband and I skipped town. We were reeling from the loss of our beloved Frances and hoped a change of scenery might provide a bit of peace.
Not in the mood to do a lot of research--we just wanted to leave--we settled on this ridiculously posh spot for our destination. While a jaw-dropping setting can't mend a broken heart, it certainly doesn't hurt. And 70 degree weather and sunshine wasn't bad either.
Half Moon Bay is less than an hour from the city but feels like a sandy, sleepy little beach town. The hotel itself is perched on the ocean and there are walking paths that lead around the golf course (which, surprisingly, is public), and down to the ocean. Both mornings we walked down to the beach and sat with our feet in the sand and the sun on our faces, admiring countless dogs frolicking in the surf, as healing an activity as anything.
Half Moon Bay's main street ("Main Street") is devoid of any chain stores and manages to feel charming without being cutesy. We spent an afternoon strolling around a bit aimlessly, not a bad thing to do, and about all we could manage. After awhile, we ended up at the locally famous Pasta Moon for lunch.
If there were a place like this in San Francisco, I would eat there once a week. Their homemade pasta was absolutely divine--the husband had a gorgeous lasagne and I had delicate pappardelle with prosciutto, wild mushrooms, porcini cream, and white truffle oil. It was all I could do not to lick the bowl.
Just as captivating, though, was my salad--a surprisingly delicious blend of roasted brussels sprouts, butternut squash, pancetta, baby cannellini beans, frisee and a vinaigrette with white balsamic vinegar.
I knew I wanted to make my own version of this delightful salad one day soon, and I tried it this week. I swapped watercress for frisee, and bacon for pancetta. And, I couldn't find baby cannellini beans, which I have to say were the perfect miniature addition to the dish. I did, however, cook cannellini beans from scratch, which I have never done before. Usually I open a can. They were good, but I'm not sure worth the effort.
But overall, the dish was a great success. Since we had been eating pretty heavily in the previous days, I served it as sort of a main course alongside creamy polenta. This is what it looked like.
I don't have a recipe, but the idea is: roast some brussels sprouts. Roast some butternut squash, which you've cut into small dice. Fry up some bacon or pancetta and at the end add a little minced garlic and the beans to warm them through. Toss everything with a green of your choice and a simple vinaigrette.
All of the proportions are up to you. At Pasta Moon, the brussels sprouts were the main attraction, with all of the other ingredients acting as careful accents. But you could tweak it any way you like. I do think the white balsamic, which I had never used before, added a lush and sweet flavor to the dish--also, being clear, it did not darken the salad.
So, give it a whirl.
I also wanted to say thank you for all of your kind comments about losing Frannie. It has been a very difficult few weeks but we are adjusting, slowly. We are already looking forward to adopting another dog (or two!) in the near future. But first, a trip. I'll write more about that as our plans take shape.
In any case, thank you. You've softened a rough blow, and I am grateful.