Our honeymoon was a two and a half week road trip from the Redwoods down the coast towards Disney Land. We hiked and camped, visited vineyards and gorgeous farms, stayed in a yurt, and put in a full and exhausting day being kids again riding the rides under glittering fireworks.
Most of our stops during this time were the spontaneous kind, directed by our our interests, our energy, our tummies, the time of day. One stop though, was completely planned. The moment we decided on coastal CA, we were going to spend a night in San Francisco explicitly to eat at The Greens Restaurant. It is the culinary birthplace of one of my all time favorite cook book authors Debora Madison. Her cookbook, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, is superb. At our potluck wedding two of the three salads came from there, my favorite tahini sauce recipe lies within those pages. Debora cooks beautifully simple, fresh, real food, food you imagine Mary Oliver or Jane Goodall eating as they chat with friends or do their work.
I dream about food, always. When I was little if I didn't clean my room I'd be banned from cooking. The worst, it worked. Some ten year olds wear baseball caps, I had a real starched chef's hat. I've been obsessed for as long as I remember. Safe to say whenever I go to a new restaurant I'm completely curious as to the theme, the menu, what experience awaits. As a result I google the menu and do some very needed pre-planning to feel out the best possible meal combinations beforehand. They might have a special, I need to be prepared.
With the anticipation of going to the The Greens, I was on high alert. Weeks before I'd check on what seasonal items they were offering, just to know, you know. One day I noticed a new salad: Peach, Blackberries, and Goat Cheese. It was peach season, and I was busy canning and baking, I hadn't thought of a salad. The menu offered no recipe obviously, and Deborah had not been at The Greens for a good twenty years, her beloved book didn't have this either.
So, I decided to play about. I wanted something peppery and bitter (arugula) to balance out the fruit, and something salty and crunchy to go with the creaminess of the cheese (almonds and fancy bacon aka pancetta). Although The Greens is decidedly vegetarian only, the crispy pancetta does add an earthy element, yet is completely optional too. The toasted almonds also offer some balance.
By the time we arrived in San Fransisco this salad was no longer on their menu, of course, the hazards of (over?) planning. So, we never actually knew how they prepared these main ingredients, yet our experiment, inspired by their listing, remains one of our most beloved summer salads. It's simple, scrumptious, and reminds us of our honeymoon, or rather an inspiration from the anticipation of thinking of it.
Honeymoon Honey Peach Salad
1 container arugula
1 pint blackberries picked over
3-4 ripe in season peaches, peeled and sliced
4-6oz goat cheese
1/2 cup almonds that have been toasted in 2 tsp coconut oil and 2 tsp honey, lightly salted, cooled
3 thin slices of pancetta that have been cooked till crisp, and broken up
a few micro greens if you have a garden and they're there, if not no biggie at all
honey, if it is creamed or thick honey, warm it up until liquid gold
salt and pepper
On a platter scatter the arugula, toss on top the peaches, blackberries, almonds, pancetta bits, and micro greens. Crumble the goat cheese all over. Salt (remember pancetta is salty, so go lightly there) and Pepper the salad to taste. Lightly drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar throughout and sparingly, as if simply kissed with the illusion of sweetness, anoint with a few droplets of honey, as if you were painting and just adding in the highlight.
If you want to go all out, pair with grilled cornish game hens and a dry riesling.
If you really want to go all out, go to The Greens, they might not have this salad, chances are they won't in fact. Their food to date remains one of the most delicious meals we've eaten. Even the garnishes are memorable.