The Affair

I am having a love affair with someone I have yet to meet. From what I hear they are culturally rich, robust, adventurous, beautiful, friendly and entertaining.

I should now take a minute to clarify that this is actually not a someone but a place.
San Francisco.

For some reason or another, I have a connection with this city. Who knows, after visiting there I may end up despising the place, although that is highly unlikely. Looking back the first introduction to San Francisco that I had was through a certain television show that pretty much defined my generation; Full House. Later on it was the food culture that really intrigued me; farm-to-table restaurants and great seafood. It also seems to lack the neon lights and pretentiousness that other major cities have.

Yesterday, I spent a good couple of hours planning out my trip there. I am dragging my best friend along for the ride. He is an avid traveller and is in Mexico City right now so technically I am planning his trip whilst he still on another one. He is pretty sure that I am attempting to bankrupt him or kill him. The message that I left him yesterday went a little like this:

“WE. ME AND YOU. YOU AND I. US. We are going to take a little trip somewhere. Now, I know that this may be cutting it close to your Mexico trip, seeing that you are not even back yet however for the mental and physical health of your best friend WE NEED TO DO THIS AND GET OUT OF THIS DAMNED COUNTRY OR THE FOLLOWING MAY HAPPEN:

1)I WILL PULL PUT ALL MY HAIR
2)I WILL DEVELOP A DRINKING PROBLEM 
3) I WILL GO CRAZY
4) MORE BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN

I also apologise for the excessive use of capital letters but you need to understand the gravity of the situation.

The solution?

Drum roll

San Francisco

Home to amazing food, wine, history, coolest bridge in the world, the largest pride parade in North America, and cute little trams.”
His response?
“Are you trying to kill me?”
While I waited for him to jump on board with my plan I decided to make Cioppino (San Francisco seafood soup) and homemade gluten-free french bread. This soup is easy, delicious, and comforting. I used mussels, scallops, hard shell clams, and shrimp. It may be more traditional to include king crab but I didn’t really feel like shelling out an additional $20 for one crab.

Cioppino

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped
large pinch red pepper flakes
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 C fish stock (or bottled clam juice)
1 C vermouth (or white wine)
2 pints (or large cans) of tomatoes, torn by hand into rough quarters
1 large bay leaf
2 tbsp. chopped oregano
2 tbsp. chopped thyme
salt and pepper
2 dozen small clams
2 dozen mussels
1 pound peeled and cleaned shrimp
1 pound scallops

Directions

1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a stockpot. Add the onions and red pepper flakes, and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are completely translucent and soft. Add the garlic, raise the heat, and cook for another minute, or until you can smell the garlic.

2. Add the fish stock, vermouth, tomatoes and their juices, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer to blend the flavours.

3. Bring the broth to a rolling boil and add all of the shellfish at once, stirring to mix well. Put a lid on the pot and let the fish cook over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes (or until all the shells have opened and the scallops and shrimp are completely opaque), stirring once halfway through.

4. Remove the lid, and take out any shells that have remained closed. Check the seasoning and enjoy!

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