Blue Bottle, Ferry Building
I made a salad worth sharing. I don't have a picture. But imagine.
Gouda cheese. Aged five years, just enough salt, and toothsome crystals.
Satsuma oranges. Small, skin warm from sitting in the sun, sweet with only a hint of tart.
Spicy wild arugula. Good when eaten straight out of the bag.
Each ingredient good enough to be eaten alone, but when combined with a basic vinaigrette: a star salad to add to your repertoire.
Since I don't care too much for fruit or sweet flavors, I was surprised by how much I liked this salad. I too often envision salad as spring lettuce mix weighed down with large cuts of vegetables and a heavy pour of dressing. But this salad is all about balance. Sweet, salty, spicy. Lightly dressed. It's simple, and, as I would expect from a farmers market cookbook, the emphasis is flavor. But it's not rustic. It has layers, it's elegant. No one component dominates. I could eat this over and over again.
I might as well segue into a brief interlude: San Francisco. I miss it. Right now, I miss the Ferry Building Farmers Market (as we called it). Even though the experience is as pricey and as curated as a walk through Disneyland, I still miss it. Waiting in line for Blue Bottle, eating a smoked salmon tartine while sitting on a bench, sampling cheese from Cowgirl Creamery (inside) and Andante (outside), pastries from Della Fattoria, greens from Star Route, bread from Acme, the pork belly sandwich from Roli Roti. Sometimes we took a ferry to Sausalito, where the sun clinged to our faces. Sometimes the Ferry Building was just a brief stop to stock up on picnic fare before continuing to Tomales Bay for oysters. At one point, I worked for a company that planned beautiful, flawless events in, among other iconic locations, the Ferry Building. Over four years, the Ferry Building became one of my favorite places in San Francisco. I even miss the man with the inedible vegan drinks. [Apparently his table is so memorable that the owner of a small guest house we stayed at in Chiang Mai, Thailand, asked if he was still there (she remembering him from her brief stint in the Bay Area).]
The market wasn't practical. But it was pure pleasure.
I'm going for a visit soon. And when I do, I'm setting aside a Saturday morning for the market. I hope the sun will be out.
Back to the salad. I have a few notes:
Other hard, crystallized cheeses would work well here - a freshly grated parmesan, a Manchego, or even a mimolette (which by coincidence, I first came to love at the Ferry Building Farmers Market).
I added roasted brussels sprouts, and it was a nice complement to the other flavors.
Toasted hazelnuts would probably be amazing, similar to the nutty flavor of roasted brussels sprouts.
The vinaigrette tasted a little too much of oil to me, so I tweaked the amount of red wine and balsamic vinegars. I also added a squeeze of lemon and a small amount of agave nectar.
Arugula Salad with Shaved Aged Gouda and Satsumas
From the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market Cookbook
1 minced shallot
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
A few drops of balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of arugula (if the larger kind, tear with your hands)
3 satsuma or other mandarin oranges, sectioned and pith removed
1/4 lb. wedge aged gouda
Combine the shallot, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Whisk and let sit for a few minutes, as you continue preparing the salad. Then whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
In a separate bowl, combine the arugula and orange segments.
Drizzle the amount of vinaigrette you want over the salad, and toss.
Add freshly grated cheese, and serve. [The book recommends using the vegetable peeler to shave the cheese. It worked well.]