The Smell of Lemons

December is the beginning of citrus season in the Bay Area. I had always figured that it started in February when my parent's Meyer lemon tree would bow over from the weight of its fruit. But not so...there are citrus everywhere, and many of them have invaded our house. My hands are stained with the scent of zest and are still a faint yellow.

Some have found their way into forthcoming Christmas gifts. Others made their way into this Lemon Lover's Tart from this book. A extremely lemony-custard tart thrown together with my favorite type of pie crust - the pat in the pan crust. Its wonderful because the ingredients are mixed roughly by hand and dumped into the center of the pan, and then pressed gently out into a rough shape before being pre-baked without weights. The easiest thing ever and it always comes out flawlessly.

We also made swordfish with a Japanese citrus marinade, but this still leaves us with over 15 lemons left to use. I'm thinking to make Lemon pot de creme, and perhaps juicing and freezing some but would love to find a creative solution for the rest.

Peter and I met friends this morning for a deem sum lunch at Yank Sing this afternoon. The food was really good, but I always wonder if the deem sum that we have here is similar to the deem sum experience in China. I have often heard that the Chinese food that we have in America is incomparable to the food in China. This of course makes sense, but in America we are brought up to believe that all Chinese food is greasy and over salted, just like pizza is soft and doughy - there isn't really anything else available. You would think that if what we have isn't 'real' Chinese food, then someone would hit upon the hole in the restaurant market and fill it. Yank Sing does a good job of not being very hard on the stomach, but the overall experience is a little hectic. One sits in a big hall of very large tables, each equipped with a lazy Susan to pass food around. Waiters pushing carts laden with bite size dishes whiz around talking into their headsets. If you are a new table the carts come from all directions, and they bombard you with choices...pork buns, dumplings, fried crab, spare ribs...... Naturally since you're hungry you say yes to everything, eat it very quickly so you don't miss the next round, and then waddle out 45min. later feeling sick because you ate so fast you forgot to breathe. Much less carry on a conversation with your dining partners. This is what Deem Sum feels like to me, but again I've heard its different in China - that its like brunch, you chat, you drink tea, you eat normally. Maybe their waiters are slower.

On the way home we stopped in at Cookin' which is a store I have been driving past for 4 years now and always going, 'one day I have to go in there'. Well today was the day, and God I wish I had gone in sooner - well maybe not considering how small my kitchens have been. They bill themselves as a 'used gourmet kitchen appliance store'. But really its a floor to ceiling (and most of the floor space too!) treasure trove of cooking stuff. Somewhat dusty, somewhat worn around the edges, but in our 10 minute stay I saw more than a few things that I'm absolutely positive I must own - small copper double boiler, miniature spring form pan, gold lace rimmed 3 layer cake tray...- hopefully it doesn't take me another 4 years to get back!


phoeberae said...


Great preserved lemon how-to and ways to use them. Looks gorgeous in the jar too, very rustic.

HeatherJ said...

I wish they had a Cookin in Portland, sounds like there is a market for a place like that up here. I love anything with lemons so I am sure whatever you make it will be yummy.

laura said...

Oh Phoebe, thank you so much for the idea!!

phoeberae said...

So glad you liked it. Hope you make some tasty things out of it.