Friday, March 23, 2007

Down by the bay, where the watermelon grows...

Having so far been neither swallowed up in "the big one" nor run over by a cablecar, I continue the habit of eating myself to (near) death in the hilly streets of San Francisco.
The gist: Pancho Villa (carnitas, lengua etc), Yum Yum Fish (assorted nigiri), Pearl City (tasty fried quail with spiced salt but lackluster mu-shu), Pizzeria Delfina (perfect tuna confit with white beans and a great rhubarb-kumquat tart), lots of chinese BBQ, Chow (pretty decent Cobb salad), May's (tuna+egg combo), more Okazu-ya, and of course the totally fantastic roast pork (twice!) by the extremely sweet people at the Roli Roti truck at the Ferry Building market (almost as good as my beloved Pork of the Gods of from Latte di Luna). Haven't done much cooking myself at all lately, although this morning I did grill up a fantastic hangar steak from golden Gate Meat Co. (easily better than any I've had in France), which went deliciously aside over-easy eggs and a wild arugula salad dressed with Meyer lemon olive oil.

In other foodsy news, today I began what I think will be a great stage at restaurant "X," which out of discretion I won't name. All the crew was extremely friendly and helpful, and it was great to be in an environment where stagiares are really encouraged to learn, taste, be efficient, and ask questions. And even apart from all the great product I'm getting to see and taste, I think some of the most valuable information to be absorbed is in observing the fine-tuned system of the place: there are many cooks all together in a small space, so efficiency and organization must be maximized. Add to that the fact that every night turns more or less as many covers as on the weekend. Add also the fact that it is commonly regarded as one of the best restaurants in the city, with service also up to that par, and it becomes clear that there are some real lessons to be learned about running a profitable and popular fine dining restaurant. But do the goods deliver? At the end of the day I tried one dessert, a new item: a frozen carrot chiboust, bruleed to order, with carrot puree, coconut-tapioca soup, pineapple foam and ginger-lime sherbet. My verdict: damn good-- and good-looking, which in this business is just as important.

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