Thursday, January 1, 2009

One Evening in San Francisco

For pro's in the food business, it's torture to be in a food mecca - a city where the abundance of talent and availability of excellent product are fused - and only have one night to eat. On the way to Napa to cook the Cattle Baron's dinner that had been auctioned in 2007, Sevy and I, with Lisa and Richard Chamberlain had booked one extra night for the city on the bay. From the moment we sampled produce at the farmer's market earlier in the day, our taste buds were on "flavor speed".

I was working with a new camera and before I left Dallas Sister showed me how to take the multi-shot photo of SPQR, above. Unfortunately I didn't learn quite enough, almost all of the food close-ups turned out blurry. But I did take notes on things we liked - their dishes were amazingly simple yet delicious. On the list of "Things We Would Reorder" (or TWWR for short) were the brussels sprouts with garlic and capers, a charred heap of caramelized flavors; the beets with ricotta and slices of crostini to spread it on; and spinach with chantrelles, lightly sauteed and served with a lemon slice on the side. Located in the Pacific Heights, this is a tiny, tiny charming Italian restaurant.

We also grazed at Slanted Door, located in Ferry Plaza on the Embarcardero. Chic, Vietnamese cuisine and crowded with people willing to wait 1+ hours to dine. We were very lucky to catch a group leaving the bar and happy to watch the energy of the restaurant and sample their fare from there. TWWR were the Vegeterian Spring Rolls, containing a quality tofu and an excellent peanut sauce; and their Five Spice Duck was also memorable. But the waiter recommended their house specialty and he was dead on with that - Niman Ranch Shaking Beef had me practically licking the plate.

Also on the Embarcardero, on Pier 1 1/2 (tho' we didn't dine there) was the newly opened Peruvian spinoff, La Mar, which I envision as having the happiest chefs in town - they certainly had an amazing view of the bay. If we'd had one extra night we would have tried it. And I took a picture of their stuffed pepper waiting to be delivered to some lucky diner - it was the only food shot that was not blurry.

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