Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lunch at Greens, and gingerbread redux

On Sunday, I spent a lovely afternoon with my mother and some family friends. Since it was just us girls, we did what girls like to do on occasion: we ate a fancy lunch and shopped for sparkly baubles.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Hungry Dog


  1. That story has me nostalgic for SF. Great looking gingerbread. Nice job finding the perfect recipe!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful day out and I could definitely go for a piece of gingerbread for breakfast! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Yum, I love fort mason and the panoramic views and the food at greens is not bad either...! I love shopping for baubles too. btw, I'm going to make the chocolate chocolate chip cookies tomorrow!

  4. Heavenly. My aunt who lives in the Bay Area got me a copy of the Greens cookbook. I've not been there yet, but the book is so inspiring to flip through and pore over their recipes. They really do create magic. Oh, and thanks again for tagging my blog for the seven facts -- I finally posted my list and tagged others. Cheers!

  5. so is it terribly bad that my slice of gingerbread would be about twice that size? also, my dollop of cream cheese would be quadrupled. :)
    happy thanksgiving!

  6. I remember that recipe in F&W! I tabbed it to make sure I would come back to it. I have so many more tabs and to makes, I forgot about this one! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  7. I'd take a slab of that over turkey any day! ;)
    Make mine with a big smear of cream cheese, too. Yum!

  8. Gingerbread is wonderful! Gingerbread with a sparkly bauble beside it would even be better!

  9. Fun day shopping and I agree- I love my springform pan too!

    Looks like a super gingerbread recipe!

  10. Ash: I hope it made you nostalgic enough to come back for a visit! Miss you.

    foodhoe: how did the cookies turn out?

    Grace: not bad at all, and who said that was the only piece of gingerbread I ate? ;)

  11. Another restaurant to try. You are keeping me busy eating in SF.
    I love gingerbread and this is the time of year to enjoy it. Looks like a good recipe. maybe we should declare a holiday celebrating the springform pan!

  12. YIKES! Put that down!

    Lol, that last photo makes me want to reach out and take a bite...the only problem is that my monitor doesn't taste too good. Thanks for this recipe. I love gingerbread, and I haven't made it in a long time either. I think I'm going to be making it soon after seeing this. Thanks!

  13. I clipped out that recipe from Food & Wine, too!! I'm planning on making it for a "gingerbread throwdown" in two weeks between a coworker and myself. Now I know it'll turn out! Next time I visit SF I might try Greens - food and a view, oh my!

    P.S. Thanks for the kind words on my blog - I'm enjoying yours as well...