Picks of the Week: Penne for your thoughts — dinner, comedy and music to fill your week

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Happy Monday, Berkeley.

I have been known to not like blue cheese. I have gone so far as to write a column about my distaste for it. But last week, I cooked three meals with it.

On Monday, I made a blue cheese pasta with the merguez sausages I bought the week before at Fatted Calf. It was creamy and delicious. The merguez gives an oomph you wouldn’t think you’d need.

To make this yourself, put some oil in a pan, and cut the sausages into little rounds that are about an inch thick. While they simmer, boil some water, salt it heavily, then add the penne. When the sausages look crispy, pour in some white wine, and let the alcohol all burn off before adding cream and stirring. Next, melt in the crumbled blue cheese. To finish it, I added some mascarpone, but the final touches are for you to decide.

Drain the pasta, add a little butter, then add a little more butter. Then add the sauce and serve.

On Tuesday, I made it again, but with leeks this time. Cut the darkest green off the leeks (the part that looks like it’s what you’re supposed to eat) as well as the roots. Then slice in half lengthwise to wash before cutting into thin strips and adding to a pan of melted butter. Cook until slightly translucent and browning. Remove from the heat and put aside in a bowl to add to the pasta sauce in the final step.

On Thursday, I made blue cheese hamburgers on toasted brioche slices, with leeks, roasted garlic and parmesan crisps. The parmesan crisps were an impulsive purchase from Whole Foods on the walk from the meat counter to the cash register. The roasted garlic is from the Cheese Board Collective. And the hamburger meat is from Trader Joe’s. It was going to be from Whole Foods, but then the first patty was scorched, the second fell apart in an attempt to be flipped, and a run to Trader Joe’s was made for emergency backup meat.

It is arguable that the most valuable lesson I learned from my blue cheese cooking endeavors is how to deactivate my smoke alarms. Take at least one night this week to make dinner for yourself — you’ll learn something unexpected, too.

But if Monday night is not the night for that, go instead to Simple Pleasures Cafe in San Francisco for “Extra Foam: A Free Comedy Show.” Sureni Weerasekera is on the lineup — read our interview with her before you go.

On Tuesday, go to World Cup Brunch @ the Park at SoMa StrEat Food Park. France will be playing Belgium in a semifinal round, so why not enjoy some food trucks while you enjoy the game? The event is free and open to all ages, as well as to dogs.

While we’re on the topic of the World Cup, keep your Wednesday afternoon open to watch Croatia play England. This will determine the final team in the World Cup finals, which will occur Sunday. It will also dictate the third-place playoff game on Saturday.

Also on Wednesday, Green Apple Books is hosting Ottessa Moshfegh at 7:30 p.m. to read from her new book, “My Year of Rest and Relaxation.” The novel is about a young woman’s experience with psychiatry and medicine, its narration both compassionate and surprisingly funny.

Then, on Thursday, NightGarden Piano will have its first event. Across various gardens in the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park, there will be snacks and drinks to accompany Sunset Piano performers. See a list of the performers online.

If this sounds too extravagant, go Thursday during the day to one of the pianos in the botanical garden to play some music yourself or listen to what passers-by have to play. This is free to San Francisco residents with IDs and $9 for nonresidents, which is no more than the usual cost of entry to the garden.

Friday would be a good day to cook yourself dinner if you haven’t already, or even if you have.

Put on Dirty Projectors’ newly released Lamp Lit Prose, light some candles (or lamps) and get cooking.

While your pasta is boiling or your burgers frying up, read Arts & Entertainment Editor Caroline Smith’s interview with the the kids of “School of Rock” at the Orpheum Theatre — it is both heartwarming and eye-opening, as I hope your week of classical music, comedy and blue cheese turns out to be.

Until next time.

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Olivia Jerram is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].

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