In my opinion, there is nothing better than sharing a little adventure with the people you love. When I went home to San Francisco a few weeks ago, three of my best friends from high school were there for the holidays – it is a rare occasion when we’re all in town at the same time - so we had to celebrate.
Though I’ve never known a more dedicated foursome to so eagerly indulge in all accessible food and drink (our reunions are only ever spent around a dining table, at a food fair, in a bar, at a winery...or on a couch with a glass of something and a plate full of homemade goods) we wanted to find a way to kick it up a notch this time – enhance our indulgence, that is. Together we brainstormed and came up with, what we now believe to be, the greatest day in the history of the world.
As Bay Area natives, we love to explore our beautiful part of Northern California. So in a rare moment of genius, we decided to take the afternoon and drive up to Tomales Bay*. Oysters, wine, and waterfront dining - it doesn't get much better.
After an hour of scenic driving through rolling hills along Northern California’s coastline, we stumbled upon a delicious, seemingly undiscovered - but apparently famed - eatery called ‘Nick’s Cove’ in Marshall, California. Marshall, you say? That’s right, population of 400 most days, 408 on that particular afternoon as the four of us and our appetites sat down and decided to stay a while. A few dozen oysters, a bottle of champagne, multiple orders of breaded-covered dishes, and a pot of Dungeness crab macaroni and cheese later, we found ourselves roaming down the beautiful pier looking out across the stunningly quiet bay as the sun went down. We were in heaven.
Destination: Marshall, California (approximately an hour north of San Francisco)
Eatery: Nick’s Cove
Order: Oysters, in any and every form possible – fried, BBQed, buttered, etc.
Drink: A Bloody Mary, or two
Do: Nothing, but indulge and take in the view while you eat until the sun goes down.
*Tomales is pronounced Tow-Mah-Less not Tuh-Mah-Lees as in "multiple tomales, por favor"
I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight two things that made my weekend particularly special. First and foremost, this Saturday I went back to the world’s greatest school and my alma mater, the University of Southern California, where I was able to participate in one of the best things to ever happen to sports: college football. While tailgating on campus and inhaling any food I could get my hands on, I was transported to my years as a shamelessly well-fed undergrad when I stumbled upon the Victory Dog. What is this ‘victorious canine’ I speak of? Well, it’s a bacon wrapped hot dog and it’s cooked to perfection on a makeshift grill often times created out of a Superior Grocery Store shopping cart or a market-cart. What is a market-cart, you ask? A term that I made up for the wire carts that people use to tote around their grocery bags from the market. They’re seen all over South Central Los Angeles, as are the Victory Dogs. It's a homemade grill top.
Just like I love my donuts and my Hemsworths, I too love my bacon. Sometimes I spend entire hours of the day thinking about ways I can incorporate bacon into more meals…If you’re wondering, the solution is usually as easy as cooking bacon and eating it as an appetizer while cooking the remainder of the meal. Call it an ‘appe-teaser’ if you will. See what I did there? Appigtizer? That one’s weird, but it’s still kind of clever.
Back to the bacon dogs. I suppose most people call these things ‘Danger Dogs’ because they’re legitimately dangerous to eat – where did these food products come from? What’s in that hot dog? How long has the bacon been sitting out? Are these things cooked under sanitary conditions? When was the last time this chef’s hands were washed? Has anything here been prepared while upholding food-cart health standards? Will this kill me? These are extraneous details that need no answering. Sure, that tube steak might be the last thing you ever eat, but you won't regret it while you're inhaling it. It's delicious and it's a food that stands for something. The victory dog is called just that because they’re the self-proclaimed local treat of the LA Coliseum and the closest thing Los Angeles has to a professional football team – the USC Trojans. I like to think that these victory dogs are named after the victors that represent my school. I also think that having a food item named after you is the highest of honors. Watching SC beat Stanford on Saturday reaffirmed my theory that the bacon wrapped hot dog's name represents USC’s greatness.
(Yes, I feel high and mighty because we’re coming off of a big win this weekend, but in general I feel good about my school 100% of the time. There is no doubt my team’s morale has taken a major turn for the better given some fat that we’ve trimmed from the coaching staff. And the leftovers? Talent, heart, a legacy of champions, and some badass football players. Also, I will take any chance to remind my family that USC is better than the schools they went to – their alma maters include UCLA and Stanford. Insert thumbs down iPhone emoji, followed by kissy face iPhone emoji.).
Back to the dogs again. These things are cooked on tin foil over kerosene flames, or on a hot plate. You can pair them with grilled onions or peppers and often times a hopefully-sealed bottle of water that comes from a strange looking bucket attached to the side of these carts. Ideally, you’re drunk when you eat one (or three) of these. If you’re not drunk you will feel hungover afterwards regardless, but in a good way. Recognized for its tasteful presentation, treacherous preparation, and understated sophistication, this weekend, the victory dog reminded me of all that is good in the world. (Footnote: Actually, according to LA Weekly, it's semi-illegal to prepare these hot dogs with bacon because it's highly likely you will in fact catch a disease if consumed...My motto, however: life's short, eat it.)
What's the second thing that made my weekend so amazing? I bought a phone cover with donuts on it.
I'm going to start this off with something near and dear to my heart - and that is the donut. I'm sure most of you have heard of this delicious treat. It's circular, as all the best and most delicious desserts are, and it's missing its center. Don't be alarmed, when said missing piece is found, it too can be eaten.
I recently discovered that one of LA's best donut-shops is walking distance from my home. This came as a shock to me, but also as a message from God - that I should be eating more donuts. Challenge accepted. A good friend of mine, who knows my eating habits all too well, mentioned that this donut shop, DK's Donut's for those of you in the area looking for Heaven, also sells food's latest and greatest creation: the cronut. Needless to say, the 10 block radius of my beach-side life is now complete.
The cronut is a combination of all things tasty - the flaky buttery-goodness of a croissant is layered to mirror the size and width of your average donut, then the middle is cut out (obviously), and then it's deep fried, as all things should be. (Let it be noted: I made all of these details up, I thought about how it was made when I was eating it, but didn't take the time to ask or research.) I can only assume that these cronuts are made by Oompa Loompas similar to those found in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory...and who am I kidding, it would be bad news bears if I knew how this was made, because 1) I would then know the amount of butter and sugar it takes to make one of these bad boys, then 2) I would try to make it myself, likely fail, and thus be forced to eat the dough. Cronuts are made to be eaten and enjoyed...don't think about it any other way.