Richard Simmons would probably have a conniption if he knew what I was up to at the gym–reading food magazines and watching Food Network while cycling half-heartedly on the stationary bike.
The way I see it, imagining the possibility of creating fantastically high-fat, decadent goodies is a great motivator for me to keep cycling–after all, the more calories I burn, the more delicious food I can eat without feeling guilty. I may not end up losing a ton of weight, but at least I don’t gain much extra, either. So you see, I always end up maintaining the status quo. (If you think my workout logic is twisted, just wait ’til you hear what goes through my head when I’m shopping.)
Tonight, though, I hit a new low: I brought a whole damn cookbook to the gym with me. But this wasn’t any old cookbook. It was “A16: Food + Wine,” which was published last year by the geniuses at A16, the chic southern Italian restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood. Even though I haven’t had the pleasure of eating there yet, I do have the great honor of knowing Kate Leahy, who co-wrote the book with chef Nate Appleman and sommelier Shelley Lindgren.
I’ve had the book for a while now, and haven’t had a lot of time to actually try most of the recipes. But I was recently inspired to read it again a couple of weeks after Kate, who I’ve known since my Northwestern J-school days, came to visit and took me to A16’s sister restaurant, SPQR, in the Fillmore. The former specializes in the cuisine of Campania, while the latter’s bag is Roman cuisine.
The food was fresh and delicious, and the conversation flowed like the crisp, fragrant wines that somehow kept filling our glasses. We enjoyed corn fritters with pancetta, honey and black pepper; fried brussels sprouts and grilled octopus with olives and celery; and house-made sorbets.
The staff was friendly and the atmosphere was warm and fuzzy (although I think the three glasses of wine and champagne I had at the Ferry Building helped make things seem warmer and fuzzier than they really were). It was one of those seminal food moments that really made you feel happy, thankful and blessed that you could afford to eat good food–and have great friends to share that food with.
To that end, I hope to take some of that inspiration and attempt some of these gorgeous recipes this weekend for those nearest and dearest to my heart. You’ll be sure to hear about it when I do.
Hm. Better hit the gym for twice as long tomorrow. This weekend is going to be a culinary bender.