On Monday I got to tell my students that I wouldn't be there the next day.
"What are you doing? Doctor's Appointment? Are you sick?"
"Then what are you doing?"
"I'm going to eat."
"For the whole day?"
"Where are you going to have lunch?"
"Why would you want to go to a restaurant that doesn't know how to make a door?" (my student Max was pretty impressed with himself for making that clever joke.)
Adam, my college friend and fellow food blogger (who has written up a great description of our meals here) was out in San Francisco for the week. Adam is a pretty well known blogger and everybody wanted to have an important/significant meal with Adam. He went to Zuni with Sam, and A16 with Fatemah, and Pim was even taking him to Manresa. I got to accompany him to The Slanted Door and Chez Panisse. I loved this mix- one was new (if you are talking about their opening in the Ferry Building anyway) hip, modern, and foreign-ish, and one was a California classic (yes, in California you can be classic after only being around for 35 years...), understated, and felt like you were dining in someone's house.
After a morning walk around the financial district, North Beach (we went to City Lights Bookstore), and Chinatown, we were ready and hungry for our lunch at The Slanted Door. I think the food there is good- great even, but there is one dish that I could eat for lunch everyday and never get sick of: The green papaya salad. It's crunchy and I just think our potato-chip culture finds crunchy foods really satisfying. And instead of peanut sauce (which I'm not a big fan of) they just have chopped peanuts and maybe a little peanut oil in the dressing (which I'm a big fan of!) It was refreshing and filling - there is tofu in there too- and they also serve it at Out The Door. We were at the Slanted Door around two in the afternoon which is a great time to go- closer to noon it's just way too loud. That's my only complaint. That and the fact that all of the waiters have mustaches (and I'm talking about that 'JUST the mustache' look) and that makes you look like a) you're from the 70's b) you're a sketchy porn star or c) you're sketchy porn star from the 70's. In all ways I'm a little sketched out.
Roasted Pineapple and Kumquat Compote.
Roasted Pineapple and Kumquat Compote gone!
Between lunch and dinner we drove by Fisherman's Wharf, through the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, across the Golden Gate Bridge, parked in Sausolito, walked around Sausolito and made snarky comments about the art galleries, bought sour grapefruits and Swedish Fish from the candy store in Sausolito, continued to take 101N, went across the Richmond/San Raffel bridge, talked about what it would be like to build a house on that little island that you see from the Richmond/San Raffel bridge, drove around Berkeley looking for parking, walked into a bookstore and looked at the cooking section (which we had already done at City Lights), checked out David Lebowitz's new book- The Perfect Scoop (in which Adam contributed a recipe and is thanked), decided to go have a drink, saw that Cesar's was full, went to the wine bar next to Cesar's and each had two Bellini's, and finally ended up at:
I had only been here once before to celebrate Felix and my 1st anniversary. As many know, there is an option on whether to eat upstairs at the cafe (choice of food) or downstairs at the restaurant (no choice), and I told Adam we were eating downstairs. I thought for his first time to Chez Panisse- we would let them choose our meal. I think you can tell a lot about a place by the meal they choose to serve you. Tonight's meal was 'Aaron's meal'. When we asked who Aaron was- he apparently was one of the line cooks- and he got to be the head chef for the night! What a great idea. I thought Aaron had some really innovated dishes in his menu:
This risotto used red wine instead of white and I really liked the full, robust flavor. Also the little Parmesan crisps on top made a nice texture contrast to the gooey risotto. Come to think of it, every dish seemed to have some innovation:
This pork belly was not in the usual shape of a pork belly. Adam and I had both had experiences when a piece of pork belly we ordered just looked like a fat square hunk o'bacon. I hardly ever order it because it's always a little chewy- but it was still fabulous.
Whenever I enjoy lemon desserts, I think of my mother. Is that odd? Probably. She can resist all desserts except for cookies, or anything with lemon, and I see where this fancy comes from. There is something about eating citrus, lemon in particular that signals closure to me. And if this closure comes in the form of an ooey gooey dessert with ice cream in the middle and crisp meringue on top, who can argue?
Of course we were full, but this little chocolate and candied grapefruit rind (again citrus) finished off the night well. In fact, I feel like I appreciated and liked Chez Panisse more than I had the first time. So if you haven't been in the last five year, go!
It was sad to see such a fun day end, but I definitely had that I had a couple important/significant meals with Adam!
1 Ferry Building (in the north eat corner)
1517 Shattuck St.
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