The last surprise that I’d arranged for Holly on our wedding night was a little wedding cake. She dislikes cake. I love cake. I hold the belief that all weddings must have a cake! So while we were having our late night dinner, the lovely staff at the Viceroy snuck into our room and set it up. Since the cake needed to be small enough for the two of us, the baker (Roman @ Over The Rainbow bakery in Palm Springs) added a dummy layer on the bottom to make it appear more full and beautiful. I wanted to keep it simple with a bit of desert-chic thrown into the mix. I chose a lemon-raspberry-champagne cake with buttercream frosting. We were so beat from the ceremony and traveling that we decided to enjoy our wedding cake with our coffee the next morning. We popped the top layer into the freezer overnight then sliced it up with our french-press the next day. The flavor was incredible! There is no better way to enjoy cake than eating it for breakfast, I’m telling you. This may have to be a new tradition…
Well, guys. WE FINALLY DID IT! On Tuesday, September 23rd Holly and I got hitched. Yaaahhooooooo! We had a very private ceremony; just the two of us, a photographer and a judge. Being married feels how I’d always hoped it would: DAMN GOOD. More photos from the ceremony and mini-moon to come! Stay tuned. Thanks to our family and friends for the support. Love levels are at an all-time high around here.
This post, aptly named, is all about my newest obsession with kouign amann (pronounced: queen-ahmon) pastries. You guys. Fer serious. These things are out of this world! You can think of this pastry like the more beautiful, tanner, multilingual cousin to the croissant…that also happens to be married to George Clooney. This pastry is Amal Alamuddin. Perfect. Flaky, buttery, sweet, carmelized – think of the truest incarnations of each of these adjectives and that is what the kouign amann tastes like. Lucky for me, they sell them at a few different eateries around Oakland. Grand Lake Kitchen + Room 389 to name a few. We shall revisit this subject when I attempt to make a batch of my own using this recipe. Until then, you can track my whereabouts by following the flaky trail of crumbs behind me.
Last Sunday was Love Our Lake day here in Oakland. When you live on or near Lake Merritt, every weekend feels like Love Our Lake day. Hell, every day even. That’s one of the reasons why we’re so in love with our neighborhood. The lake is the epicenter of all activity. Families out walking, joggers, hipsters sitting on the hill. We often talk about how fortunate we are to live here and how special this place is. I plan on writing an ode to Oakland at some point but for this post, let’s stick to the matter at hand. As soon as we could drag our asses outta bed we got ready and walked halfway around the lake to hear Mayor Quan speak (that’ s her in the teal dress above). There was music, food trucks and a bicycle-powered sound stage. Ya know, the usual NorCal fare. Afterwards we walked the rest of the way around the lake to a late lunch at Grand Lake Kitchen where I wish I’d made my fiancee wear a bib.
In our house, the meat and cheese platter (or charcuterie for you bougie folks) isn’t just a spread for house guests it’s a staple. Not up for cooking tonight? No probz. Go to the nearest market, pick up some quality cured meats and cheeses and dinner is done! Even better if you toast up a baguette to eat with it. Veggies and fruits are invited to the party as well, if you’re into that sorta thing. Sure, it’s decadent. Yes, you’ll consume way more than your daily-allotted amount of sodium. You might bloat but you’ll still feel hella fancy. That’s a promise.
Photo Contributors: H. Jackson + M. Garcia
I can’t promise that this blog will turn into one of those blogs that you go to for recipes. Step-by-step photos and instructions – I’m just not there yet. Not sure that I ever will be. There are so many blogs out there that do it so well already, don’t you agree? What I can promise is that I will beautifully photograph and vaguely explain the things that my Boo makes for me. Ya see, she’s the cook in the family. A very legit, very meat-centered cook. It’s one of the reasons that I fell in love with her. Girl has a palate! When we’re lucky enough to have a weekend off together, delicious and creative meals happen. Enter: Cloud Eggs. I believe that the technical term is Poached Scrambled but that doesn’t sound very technical to me. Some sort of elegant French name would serve much better, but I digress. Last weekend Holly made us poached scrambled eggs on toast using this method. When made this way, the eggs have the consistency of burrata cheese. Soft, moist, super duper light. How I would imagine a cloud made of eggs would feel, essentially. She layered some butter, triple crème brie and heirloom tomatoes on a thick slice of sourdough then topped it with the cloud eggs. Sprinkle some paprika, sea salt and chopped parsley to finish, bingbangboom you’re good to go! Bellissimo! *Italian finger kiss*
A few months back we went on a double date with some friends of ours to the St. George Distillery in Alameda. The place is located in an old naval air station hangar. The view from the hangar across the Bay was spectacular! The entire SF skyline was on display. This was one of the better tours that I’ve been on. Not only because the location and facilities were beautiful but because our tour guide was that perfect combination of cool + witty + know-it-all. She wasn’t the least bit phased by the cocktail geek questions that we threw her way. Immediately after the tour we were lead to the main room for a tasting. We got to sample their most popular products which were gin, brandy, bourbon, vodka and absinthe. Up until very recently, Hangar 1 vodka was distilled and distributed through St. George but it was sold to another company shortly before our visit. We really dug their absinthe and brandy products, even took some home. I’m not quite sure how to put this into words, but as a consumer it’s easy to build a…what shall we call it…. allegiance-effect (?) when you learn so much about a product before ever trying it for yourself. You know everything about it; the artistry and hard work that goes into creating it. You share the passion of those that make it their business to get it right. So when you finally try the product I feel like it makes you love it more. You feel almost loyal to this product. You want to love it. I’ve experience this one other time at a Coffee Plantation in Costa Rica. *Shout out to Don Juan Coffee! Overall, we loved the variety and the flavor of St. George’s spirits. Impressing bev-snob’s like us ain’t easy. Cheers!
A couple of weekends ago Holly and I drove 4 hours out of the city to Lake Tahoe. We were looking for a little bit of r&r. We stayed at the Squaw Valley Resort and it was perfect. So perfect and serene, in fact, that I didn’t take my camera out once. However, on our way home we drove over to King’s Beach to walk around the town, grab some coffee and dip our toes into the lake. The clarity of the water and the warmth of the sun were something else. We didn’t want to leave. So. Dang. Beautiful.
Sunday was an easy day. We brunched, we napped, we did laundry and Holly was patient enough to snap these shots of me. Isn’t she a doll? Our relationship has actually come a long way from the days of me forcing her to photograph me and micromanaging her while she does it. Holly doesn’t like taking photos. Wonder why?
For our breezy Sunday I threw a chambray shirt over a basic black dress. Topped it off with a beige-y fedora and red lips. When wearing so many neutrals one can never forget the red lips! I’ve always had a “thang” for dainty jewelry which is why I had to have this necklace when I saw it on Pinterest. The first of many jewelry items with the letter “H.” Whether you assumed that the “H” stands for Holly or for the word Homo, you’d be right. I’ll give points for both.
Hope your Sunday was just as swell.
NO, not those kinds of family jewels. I’m talking about a lady’s kind of family jewels; the real “heirloom” type of stuff. I’m talking about my beautiful engagement ring. Yes, yes. Read this in a southern accent for emphasis: SHE DONE GOOOOODD! The picture above was taken in our car about 15 minutes after Holly popped the question. While I hope to share the story (and photos!) of the proposal some day this post is all about the bling. My ring is a 3.6 carat asscher cut green-tea sapphire in a white gold pave diamond band. It’s unique, it’s timeless, it’s more than I could have ever imagined! Although I love the sparkle of a traditional diamond engagement ring, I knew that it wasn’t for me. There’s plenty of time for diamonds later on in life right? *wink* Getting back to my original point – this ring is the first piece of fine jewelry that I’ve ever received. Before Holly got down on her knee and gave this to me I would daydream about wearing it. Now that I wear it daily I daydream about my future daughter or daughter-in-law wearing it and adoring it as much as I do. Although, in true negative-nancy fashion, the thought occurred to me that maybe my style of jewelry won’t be so popular with the future generations. What if nobody likes it? What if none of the Birrell-Jackson women care to wear it? Will they throw it in the casket while my coffin descends? What kind of wet blanket has these types of thoughts just because she prefers a non-traditional engagement ring? *points to self* I wonder if any other woman has had silly thoughts like these before? No? Okay. I’ll put my paranoia to bed for tonight. Besides, I’ve got at least another 70 some-odd years to marvel at this beautiful & meaningful jewel on my finger. I love you, Holly. Thank you.