I never thought of moving as being particularly challenging or draining. The steps are simple, and the script never really changes. You decide to move, you make a list checking off each item, you buy some boxes, you pack, you go, and voila! You have now moved. So, moving is easy … It’s leaving that’s difficult.
The past few weeks have been such a blur of activity that the busy days, and late nights, have conveniently kept me from focusing on leaving. I shied away from anything that even hinted at “last” anything. “Let’s get together for dinner in a couple of weeks, before you leave”, “No sorry, I can’t, but I’ll meet you out for dinner tonight or tomorrow if you want.”; “We need to see each other one last time before you leave”, “Hmm, how about we just see each other now?” But no matter what I did or said, “leaving” was always there. It sat next to me as I carefully packed my books, it hovered over my shoulder as I stood in my kitchen and wondered why I owned three rice steamers, and it tapped its fingers impatiently as I sorted through my collection of vintage cameras; just waiting for me to acknowledge it. I, on the other hand, continued to give it the side eye, and kept working and thinking and doing. Nothing to see here, I’m just moving!
And then a couple of weeks ago, it happened. I was standing in front of my ten year old fern, debating gifting her to a friend when I suddenly burst out crying. Two things dawned on me: one, I wasn’t just moving, I was leaving and I was heartbreakingly sad about it; and two, I loved New Orleans, but what if New Orleans didn’t love me back? What if I didn’t fit in? So with that in mind, I went right ahead and had a mini meltdown, wretched sobbing included, for the San Francisco fog wrapped but vibrant life that I was leaving behind. In two short days I would be driving away from Sunday morning beach runs with Nola, “my” Whole Foods, the #54 bus driver who says the same thing every time I board the bus, “Now young lady, please tell me that today’s the day that you’re going to run away with me”, the view of Twin Peaks from my bedroom window, the chickens, and my wonderful friends. I cried for a vague future in New Orleans and my many insecurities about it. But somewhere between sniffling and sobbing, I realized a few things. Maybe I’ll like the Whole Foods there just as much, and though the skyline might look different, the views will be just as breathtaking, and Nola and I can learn to love to run along the Mississippi River rather than the Pacific Ocean. I’ll still miss my friends, and there’s nothing that can be done about that. However, this wouldn’t be the end of my friendships, and living in New Orleans pretty much guarantees a string of visitors. I had promised myself that 2014 would be the year of showing up, and I was going to do that just that, fears or not. In the end, does it stink that I’m leaving? Yes. Is it a good thing? It’s a great thing.
So here we are. My last week in San Francisco and I couldn’t be happier or sadder. And what is the one food that makes sense whether you’re happy or sad? Yep, ice cream. But this couldn’t be a simple outing for a cone. It had to matter. And ice cream in the Bay area is serious business. Serious enough to warrant long lines on bone chilling nights, and fierce debates over which shop serves the best, most interesting flavors. And because it had to matter, my friends and I braved all the lines at all the shops, and ate all the ice cream.
How lucky am I to have lived in a city that has loved me so sweetly, and to have friends who will happily endure a five hour ice cream crawl to make me feel better?
salted caramel ice cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, scraped, and seeds reserved
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Prepare an ice water bath by filling a bowl halfway with ice and water; set aside. Combine cream, half-and-half, and vanilla seeds in a large bowl and set aside.
Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and stir until mixture resembles wet sand. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil until mixture turns dark amber in color and smells toasted, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Immediately remove from heat and slowly add cream mixture, whisking until evenly incorporated. Return the saucepan to the stove and place over medium-low heat to keep warm.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a large bowl until pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1 cup of the caramel sauce into the eggs.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining caramel sauce, stir in salt, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it is as viscous as melted ice cream and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. (When you draw your finger across the spoon, it should make a mark through the custard, which should not run back in on itself.)
Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over the ice water bath to chill, about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the ice cream base is cold, cover and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 3 hours or overnight. Once it’s chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will keep in the freezer for 1 week.