I (Adam) remember the day we brought home the new 1977 Cadillac Seville. With a stylish light tan exterior and a dark brown top, it had more space for the family, the beige leather seats were soft and comfortable, it boasted automatic locks and windows, it was our first car with air conditioning, and best of all it had a fancy 8-track cassette deck. I still clearly remember the music collection that my parents kept in that car: there was a bright blue Barry Manilow Live cassette that I would obsessively sing along with until I lost my voice or until my parents couldn’t take it anymore and asked me to stop. My mom worked in real estate, and this was the new luxury car for showing clients around town, an impressive replacement for the dark blue ’65 Volkswagen bug that she had been driving since her 16th birthday. Despite its classy appearance, the Cadillac ended up having lots of problems over the years. When I was fourteen, it caught fire one night as we were driving home through Topanga Canyon. The engine started to make an awful sound, and when I looked out the window, flames were shooting out from the sides of the car. We immediately pulled over, and ran as far away as we could. There we stood, helpless, on the side of the road in the middle of the dark canyon, waiting for the car to explode.
This recipe was destined to be shared with the world. In 2010, while Adam’s band was touring the West Coast, they stumbled upon a Puerto Rican restaurant called Sol Food just twenty miles north of San Francisco. None of the guys had ever tried this type of cuisine before, but everyone instantly fell in love. The outside of the restaurant was painted a vibrant green and the interiors were decorated with colorful vintage doors and lush tropical plants. Adam ordered a flat pressed vegetarian sandwich with avocado, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, organic greens, sliced tomato, Jack cheese and a tasty cilantro-lime mayo, and it was one of the best sandwiches he had ever tasted. On every table in the restaurant there was a mysterious bottle of red sauce with no label, and as the guys looked around, they could see other customers generously pouring it over everything: sandwiches, black beans and rice, and yuca. Well, they started by adding a few tentative drops to their dishes, but by the end of the meal they were all practically drinking it straight from the bottle. It was spicy, tangy, and deeply flavorful: filled with bright chiles and just the slightest hint of sweetness, it was unlike anything Adam had ever tasted, and he had to find out more about it.
Four years ago, we had the pleasure of visiting Japan for the first time. Adam’s band was performing at the Fuji Rock Festival, high in the mountains three hours north of Tokyo. After the last show, the rest of the group went home while the two of us ventured around the country for ten days, falling completely in love with the Japanese people and their inspiring culture. We took bullet trains to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Miyajima, and Hiroshima, traveling across the countryside, spending a few days in each city, visiting pristine gardens and ancient Buddhist temples, while learning where to find the best vegetarian meals and how to properly ask for them. Throughout the day, we often found ourselves saying, “watashi wa bejitarian desu,” hoping they would understand that we were politely communicating, “I am vegetarian.” We snacked on inari (sweet tofu pockets filled with sushi rice), we lived off onigiri with umeboshi (white rice triangles wrapped in seaweed with a sour plum center), we found unique tiny restaurants on hidden side streets serving bowls of hot udon noodles, ramen, and miso soup, we tried a savory pancake called okonomiyaki, sampled multiple flavors of sweet mochi candies, and discovered a delicious noodle dish called zaru soba. This light and refreshing entree quickly became our go-to meal in Japan, and since it is served cold, it makes a perfect summertime dinner that is easy to prepare and fun to eat!
Do you hear that? Kids laughing and splashing in the pool, vegetarian burgers sizzling on the barbecue, cool ice cubes clinking in glasses of fruity sangria, a golden retriever slurping from his water bowl, your favorite tunes playing in the background. These are the relaxing sounds of summer which unofficially starts this Memorial Day weekend. We are ready for it and so are the local grocery stores and farmers markets which have already begun over-stocking their shelves with fresh summer produce like sweet juicy peaches and tangy heirloom tomatoes. Dust off your flip-flops, get out your sunscreen and bathing suits (our apologies if you may have gone up a size or two), and let us celebrate warmer weather, school-less beach days, tropical vacation getaways, romantic evening walks, roasting s’mores outdoors, and spending more time with friends and family. Today we would like to welcome this bountiful season with a delicious, crisp corn salad that is a little sweet, a little spicy, and perfect for all your entertaining needs.
It mIght be obvious to you that we have a slight obsession with sweets. Okay, perhaps it’s a little more than slight—it’s pretty severe. But there is just something so satisfying about them! I mean, who wouldn’t want to start their day by pouring hot chocolatey nutella syrup over crispy banana waffles first thing in the morning? After a breakfast like that, it’s basically guaranteed that the rest of your day will be spectacular. Life is full of bountiful pleasures like these, and it’s important to treat yourself to sumptuous breakfasts from time to time! We are not saying that you should then go have cake for lunch and ice cream for dinner, but keeping a diverse mix of sweet and healthy is important. When we were planning this month’s blog schedule, we realized that four out of the last five recipes we posted were desserts and the fifth one was a cocktail. So today we are balancing things out and sharing one of our favorite Mediterranean side dishes, a delicious and healthy cold salad, perfect for all your spring and summer entertaining needs. Say hello to tabbouleh.