Oakland is a thriving, vibrant, multicultural hub a few minutes from San Francisco. I know it gets a lot of bad press; like any major city it has its problems. However, there is another side to Oakland. I’ve lived here for over 25 years and am proud of how far the city has come.
Berkeley has the reputation as the “foodie” capital of California, but I would argue that Oakland is catching up. This Friday is the first day of spring and, although the East coast is still struggling with the effects of a horrible winter, it has already sprung here in Oakland.
On a recent Saturday I was inspired to take some pictures in my neighborhood. All of these pictures were taken only a few blocks of my home. Within an easy stroll are several top rated restaurants, a dozen smaller ones, a wonderful bakery, Trader Joe’s, two drug stores, several coffee shops, four places dedicated to fitness, a donut shop, a year round Saturday farmer’s market, and Lake Merritt. Lake Merritt is a jewel in the middle of Oakland, the oldest bird sanctuary in the U.S. It’s a salt water lake, open to the bay, home to migrating birds of many species; and a favorite of walkers, runners and running groups.
But, back to the pictures.
A few from the Oakland Grand Lake Farmer’s Market:
Outdoor seating and folks enjoying the lovely warm weather on a Saturday morning.
Of course our Aussie ladies had to come along for the walk.
Lake Merritt is just over three miles in circumference. On my side you will find a grassy park with a children’s play area. On the other side are some man made islands for the birds, Children’s Fairyland, a botanical garden, and a large community garden.
The gardens this time of year are amazaing.
Did you wonder when I was going to get to the recipe? This is a variation of a classic pasta dish for spring, this time with snap and snow peas plus some tendrils.
Pasta with Spring Peas (serves 4-6 as a main course)
- Pasta – 1 lb. (regular or gluten free), your choice of shape
- Olive oil or softened butter – 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup)
- 2 cups of combined snap and/or snow peas, strings removed and sliced diagonally
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
- 1 cup of eadible pea tendrils, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, torn into large pieces
- Parmesan – grated, about a cup plus more for serving
- Pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt (kosher) until it tastes like the sea. Toss in your pasta and cook according to the package directions, tasting to make sure it is done to your liking.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil or butter in a large skillet.
- Add the garlic and cook on medium-low heat until softened (about 3 minutes), add the snap or snow peas and saute for about 2 minutes until they turn bright green.
- Drain your pasta, reserving about a cup of the starchy cooking liquid. Do not rinse the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the skillet and increase the heat to medium high, toss then add the pea tendrils and continue to cook for about 30 seconds until just wilted. Add cooking water if it appears dry.
- Add the cheese and toss again. If the mixture still looks dry, add a bit more cooking water.
- Garnish with more parmesan for serving.
The cooking water contains starch, which turns butter (or olive oil) and cheese into a creamy sauce. Don’t add too much as you don’t want it to be watery. Taste to see if it needs more salt.
Turn into a warm serving bowl or individual plates. Garnish with the chopped mint and grate some additional cheese on the top.
I think my friends at Fiesta Friday will enjoy the pictures. Please join us at Angie’s, the Novice Gardener.
Happiness is a warm spot in the sun!