Fresh Catch (CSF) is a Seafood Lover's Dream Come True + Cracking My First Live Sea Urchin

A few weeks ago, I cracked open my first live sea urchin and ate the beautiful, bright orange roe straight out of the shell while the spines of the urchin continued to move. I love sea urchin, but I've never had one this alive and fresh. The roe was simply divine out of the shell. It was delicately sweet, slightly salty and briny, very creamy.

The two huge sea urchins that I had the pleasure of eating were hand harvested in the morning by a diver in Half Moon Bay and then delivered to our home a few hours later. It was an incredible experience that I have Fresh Catch to thank for. I was a bit intimidated by it, mostly out of fear from the possibility of getting stabbed, but I followed along the instructions they sent over and unleashed the hungry savage beast inside of me. 

Fresh Catch is a Bay Area-based CSF (Community Supported Fishery) who partners with a collective of sustainable fishing vessels to source high quality seafood every week and delivers to your home or a pickup location. 

We've been using Fresh Catch for the past three weeks and we freakin' love them! It is so awesome that they deliver all the way over to San Pablo. Sometimes we're not home during the delivery time frame, so we'll leave out a cooler filled with ice packs. 

It's been fun to see what they can get a hold of each week. I get excited just knowing that the fish we get is caught by hook and line, or that the sea urchins we get are dived for one by one. Since the sea urchin delivery, we've received little neck clams, PEI mussels, and beautiful fillets of McFarland Springs rainbow trout. Seafood does not get any fresher than this unless you're catching it yourself - or making a trip over to the docks, but who has time for that? 

If you love seafood and live in the 415/510/925 area, I would highly recommend checking Fresh Catch out. You can order a single delivery for the week or multiple deliveries, and opt out if you don't like what they have to offer. Basically, you only get what you want when you want it. The deliveries also come with recipes.

I really do love them and think you will, too. 

You can also find Fresh Catch at First Friday in Oakland. They'll be at 478 25th St in Oakland on Fridays from 6pm-10pm shucking oysters and serving up fresh seafood. You can follow Fresh Catch on Instagram to see what they're delivering next and for special event announcements. 

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Patrick's Favorite Three-Layer Chocolate Sour Cream Cake Recipe

It was Patrick's birthday last week, which by coincidence is also St. Patrick's Day. Every year when March 17 arrives, I can look forward to eating three things: corned beef, colcannon, and a chocolate sour cream cake.

I had never heard of sour cream cake until six years ago when I had my first slice, and it was life changing. I instantly understood why this was Patrick's favorite cake. There's really nothing else quite like it - three heavenly layers of moist and fluffy chocolate cake, frosted with thick and fluffy, lightly sweetened whipped cream.

If the idea of sour cream in a cake is weird, it's really like adding in any other dairy into a cake, like milk or buttermilk. The sour cream gives the cake a balance of acidity and fat that makes it moist and light in texture.

Patrick's mom has been making this particular chocolate sour cream cake for him since he was a kid. She was out of town this year, so I took the day off from work to bake. I must warn you that while straight-forward, this recipe is a little difficult to nail. The first time I made this cake a few years ago, it tasted good but wasn't up to par to his mom's because I wasn't consistent in beating the batter.

In this recent attempt, I messed up on the first batter due to not properly timing the melted chocolate before incorporating it, so I had to start all over again. My advice is to get enough ingredients in case you need to do a second attempt and to follow the directions precisely - timing is everything. 

I am happy that my final attempt turned out pretty freakin' close to his mom's cake! It was so good that Patrick and I devoured 75% of the cake ourselves within a week. The remaining 25% went to his dad and brother.  

This cake has become one of my favorites and I'm pretty sure it will become your favorite as well.

Three-Layer Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

By Rebecca Linkous adapted from San Francisco A La Carte: Junior League San Francisco 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cake flour (I use Softasilk)      
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup regular sour cream
  • 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted (I use Guittard - very crucial to let this cool near room temperature before adding to bowl - read step 2 below)
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 eggs

ICING

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.  I usually add the chocolate last since I am still cooling it at the last minute.  If you do not cool the chocolate properly (close to room temperature) and you add it to the cold ingredients like sour cream, water or eggs, it will go solid and cause you to have a chocolate chip cake.  Trust me, it is ugly and does not taste the same. 
  3. Beat all ingredients for ½ minute on low speed, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Then beat for 3 minutes at highest speed.  Batter should be a really thick consistency.  
  4. Pour into 3 – 8” greased and floured cake pans. I highly recommend covering the bottom of the pans with waxed paper to stop the sticking. 
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. 

ICING

  1. Beat 1 1/2 pints of heavy whipping cream with 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar until extremely thick.  
  2. Slather this on each layer thick and even thicker on the outside.  Then shave a nice milk chocolate bar on top with a peeler. It is important to work quickly and then refrigerate the cake or the icing will run away.

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The Bird Review: Ridiculously Delicious Fried Chicken Sandwiches (FiDi, San Francisco)

For over the past two months, I've been going to The Bird at least every other week for their ridiculously delicious fried chicken sandwiches. If you've been following me on Instagram, you can probably tell that I'm obsessed. It is the best fried chicken sandwich I've ever had in my life. For real. 

I've had several fried chicken sandwiches throughout the East Bay and San Francisco, but nothing comes even close to The Bird. My favorite is the spicy chicken sandwich ($8). The thigh meat is huge, so juicy and moist. The meat has this really nice silky texture that's easy to bite into. The exterior is crispy with a nice golden crust that's coated in some kind of spicy paprika all-spice oil that gives off a mild level of heat, contrasting with the bright pickles and apple-celery slaw. 

I may just be lucky, but every sandwich I've had has been unbelievably on point and consistent. I've even taken a sandwich to go all the way home and it was still crisp the next day. Every person I've taken to join me has come back for more. There's usually a line during the lunch hour, so I make sure to get there by 11:30am. They move pretty quick - I usually get my food in less than 7 minutes. The curly fries are great, crispy and nicely seasoned. The loaded fries are a real treat if you're into having your fries dressed with gooey cheese sauce, sour cream, bacon and scallions. 

They recently started serving brown butter biscuit sandwiches ($4.50) for breakfast during the weekdays (ends at 10:30am), which I freakin' love. You can choose from the fried chicken, house made sausage or bacon. My favorite, of course, is the fried chicken, which is about half the size of the thigh served at lunch and comes with irresistible crispy hashbrown bites. 

If you love fried chicken sandwiches, you've got to try out The Bird


Visiting The Bird

Location

115 New Montgomery Street, San Francisco

Website

http://thebirdsf.com/

Phone

415.872.9825

Hours

  • M-W: 8am-8pm, Th-F: till 9pm

  • Sat: 11-4pm

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