A Little Comfort: 20th Century Cafe’s Russian Honey Cake

It’s been a rough couple of months out there in the world. Sometimes the world of cooking classes and food blogging can feel a little frivolous in light of everything happening out there: hurricanes, violence, politics and most recently wildfires in our beloved Napa & Sonoma counties. But then again, when you think about it, there is a special kind of magic when people come together around food — sustenance for the body and the soul. So now’s the time, more than ever it seems, to invite a friend over for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, or to make that big pot of pasta sauce and share it with a neighbor, or invite family around for dinner… or get involved with feeding and nourishing your community.

[Simran and I have found some opportunities to share and help recently and it feels pretty good! If you want to get involved with helping Northbay fire first responders and evacuees, here’s a resource we can recommend: SF Fights Fire. ]

For me, a little personal moment of comfort came recently in the form of Russian honey cake, from the 20th Century Cafe in Hayes Valley in SF. It’s their signature dessert and one that’s been on my list to try for far too long. What’s so cool about 20th Century Cafe is that the dessert menu focuses on sweets from Eastern Europe so there are lots of new things to try. It’s such a lovely little spot for a special after school treat. The honey cake was, as advertised, divine and I managed to get a bite of the deliciously delicate layers of cake and cream before my hungry tablemates made it disappear.

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this cake! — surrounded by poppyseeds from one of their housemade bagels which we also sampled.

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enthusiastic cake eaters

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going going gone!

[Upon returning home and finding myself a little obsessed with this cake, I found this video of chef/owner Michelle Polzine making it.]

We had delightful time of chatting and sharing delicious cake together, then decided to further lift our spirits by taking a short walk and visiting our gorgeous San Francisco City Hall. We often admire the beautiful exterior of the building as we pass by, but I realized the kids had never been inside. It really is stunning and made even more lovely by all the “just married” couples taking photos on the balconies and grand staircase. Being in the presence of so many happy new beginnings has a way of recharging your sense of hope in the world.

We took a minute to sit on the steps, and all found ourselves with big smiles on our faces — tummies happy and happy to be together enjoying something beautiful. And when I thought about it on the way home I realized that those smiles where what we were needing most of all.

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Sketchbook: Jane (San Francisco)

The scene at Jane (cafe/bakery/eatery on Fillmore St.) as sketched by 2 young patrons 🙂


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Luca: “My dad took me and Matteo to Jane on a work meeting and this is what I saw. (Just a small note… Aaron is my dad’s work friend). When you really look around you can see all sorts of things you didn’t see before. The most unusual thing I saw was a buffalo head hanging on the wall. I had a cinnamon roll and it was just how you would expect at a cafe… good!”

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Matteo: “It’s yummy!”

 


More San Francisco Cafe Sketches

Sketchbook: Destination Baking Co., Glen Park / SF

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A little doodle to remember all the yummies on our adventure to Destination Baking Co. in Glen Park (SF)! Alas, we didn’t have time to try all of them, but we’ll be back. The kids give a big thumbs up to the carrot cake.

Clockwise from bottom center: Lemon Curd Tartlet; Pecan Tassie; Yellow Cupcake with Chocolate Frosting; Banana Cream Tartlet; Carrot Cake; Marzarin Tarlet (Almond Paste and Raspberry Jam)

Upcoming Events – Hope You Can Join Us!

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March 16th, 2017 – “Weeknight Indian Classics” @ 18 Reasons

If the idea of cooking Indian food from scratch in your home intimidates you, this is the class for you. In this class we will teach you to cook classic Indian dishes that come together quickly and pack a punch of flavor into your busy schedule. We’ll also introduce you to the most commonly used Indian spices and how they can be incorporated into your everyday cooking. You’ll soon be asking, “Who needs takeout?”

Thursday, 3/16/2017 (6 – 930 pm) – Click here for tickets

March 28th, 2017 – “Flavors of India – Pooris and Punjabi Curries” @ 18 Reasons

Learn about essential Indian spices, special ingredients and unique cooking techniques while we make some of Simran’s favorite family recipes. Together we’ll cook a vegetarian feast: golden, puffed pooris, two vegetarian curries, and some classic accompaniments. When served together, the dishes on this menu would be a typical Sunday family lunch in Northern India’s Punjab region, but each of the dishes on their own makes a wonderful addition to your home cooking repertoire.

Tuesday, 3/28/2017 (6 – 9pm) – Click here for tickets

April 2nd, 2017 — “Traditional Indian” at Ramekins

Join us for a menu consisting of some favorite Indian classics and you will forget about ordering Indian takeout.  The class will include an introduction to some of the spices most commonly used in Indian cooking and how the spices can be incorporated into your everyday cooking.

Sunday, 4/2/17 (3 – 6pm) — click here for tickets

April 27th, – Dinner and A Movie: The Lunchbox @ 18 Reasons

We were inspired by the Indian film “The Lunchbox” to create a classic Indian lunchbox menu to accompany our screening of the film. Join us for dinner and a movie!

Thursday, 4/27/17 (7-9pm) – click here for tickets

2017 Summer Camp!

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We’ve plunged right into the New Year, with teaching, planning and cooking, and we are more excited than ever to launch our summer camp for this year.

Join us for lots more food, cooking and culture: younger kids (entering 1st thru 4th grades) will explore world cuisines from Greece, to Cuba, to Malaysia and older kids (entering 4th thru 7th grades) will take inspiration from celebrated local chefs. We hope to see you this summer!
Click the links below to register or get complete camp details by visiting www.alittleyum.com/camp/.

Registration Links

Continue reading

Everyday Indonesian Cooking at 18 Reasons

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We are back from the winter break – recharged and ready to go.  I usually find this time of year annoying, because everyone is so positive, resolute and gung-ho (and the gyms are exceptionally full), but this year I find myself cheerful, excited (maybe, because 2016 was just so yucky) and hoping to take on new challenges.

To kick things off – we are teaching a new format of Indonesian cooking class at 18 Reasons in February.  It’s a new format – because everyone will make every dish on the menu.  Usually at cooking classes, you just make one/two of the dishes, but during this one everyone will make everything.  We can’t wait!  Hopefully, it will be chance for you to add a whole new dimension to your everyday meals. Continue reading

Happy Holidays & See You Next Year

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It’s amazing how fast this year has gone by.  Someone said to me recently that the years seem to whiz by faster as one gets older – that’s so true.  We are hoping to keep it slow and simple these holidays, to pause and reflect, and think about how to make ourselves better, and by extension the world better.

We are also looking forward to next year and all the cooking fun we have planned with little ones and grown-ups.  There are many new ideas and plans we have up our sleeves, and hopefully some of them will work out.  Meanwhile, please note the dates below if your kids can join us, we’d love to cook with them.


Jan. 16, 2017 — MLK, JR. HOLIDAY CAMP: “AMERICAN CLASSICS” 

How would your kids like to spend the day cooking great American classics to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?  Your kiddos will learn to cook Americana favorites from classic mac and cheese to apple pie.…. and with a nod of our ever-changing country and food traditions, we will also have fun creating a modern-fusion version of each dish to serve alongside the original. 

Jan. 17, 2017 — Asian Noodle Bowls

Join us for day of the ultimate comfort food – Asian Noodle Bowls and some other favorites from Asian restaurants.

Feb 9 & Feb 10, 2017 — “Everyday Indonesian” at 18 Reasons
Learn how to create a true and truly good Indonesian meal at home! This is a menu you can whip up fairly quickly when you tire of your nightly routine, or when you want to impress some friends for a casual gathering.

SUMMER CAMP 2017
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We’d love to be part of your summer plans. Registration for 2017 Summer Camps will go live in January.  In the meantime, Save the Date! All camps will run 9am-3pm and take place in SF/Noe Valley:

  • Jul 10-14, 2017 : Cook the Cookbook: Bay Area chefs (entering 4th-7th grades)
  • July 17-21, 2017 : Cook the Cookbook: Bay Area chefs (entering 4th-7th grades)
  • July 24-28, 2017: Around the World (entering 1st-4th grades)
  • July 31-August 4, 2017: Around the World (entering 1st-4th grades)

If you would like to be notified when registration goes live, please join our mailing list HERE.

Happy Holidays!