Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Eva's Sunday Supper

Tender veal, simply adorned with light jus and exquisite buttery, fried potatoes

I’ve written before about my love of Sunday suppers even though I haven’t  really been a part of one since I was a kid and my grandfather Bruce would make spaghetti for the whole Southern California crew in his Placentia home. That’s the whole point though, I cherish the ritual that has rapidly become obsolete in this day and age when family and friends rarely have time to maintain a consistent tradition such as a shared meal together over a lazy early evening at the end of a week. So, I was thrilled when the Cute Gardener told me we had reservations for Sunday Supper at Eva this past weekend.

Italian chopped salad with chickpeas and salami, room temperature and slightly dressed with a creamy, tang

Many restaurants may claim to offer Sunday Suppers while really only adding a newly captioned gimmick to their menu item to get people in during slow spells but Eva went above and beyond to create an atmosphere and service that reflected something truly special. Maybe this is because Chef Mark Gold named the restaurant after his grandmother Eva who clearly impacted both his sense of cooking and hospitality.

According to his website, “Memories are made when we come together, share a bottle of wine and a couple of stories. Add to this a thoughtfully prepared meal and the memories become unforgettable. This is what inspires us at Eva.”

While we ate at the restaurant Gold made a point to frequently leave the exposed kitchen to warmly walk the room and converse with just about every customer, most of which he seemed to know by name, furthering my notion that eaters love it when they find a dining room that truly feels like home.

Although he touts himself as a Jew in a cowboy hat (with a ten gallon personality to match), on this particular Sunday he was chapeau-less and calling himself Jewish-Italiano in honor of the special menu he had created for us. Oftentimes you don’t even know what Eva will serve on Sunday until you show up but I had discovered earlier on Facebook that dinner would include chopped salad, shrimp scampi, veal and potato, lemon bars with Italian meringue and wine.

Lemon bars that passed the "tongue-smarting" test, addictive and tart

The food was tasty and the kind you would expect at home, swiveling on big platters around the lazy Susan. The wine (of which four kinds were offered in unlimited pours that the waiter constantly filled the glasses with when empty) flowed freely even though the entire cost of the meal was only $39 per person. If I lived in the neighborhood, I might make it a habit but for now it is definitely up there in the memorable moments category for me. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Custom Cheese and Charcuterie at Anthony's

I have a thing for passionate chefs who open restaurants or stores because they can’t stand the idea of NOT sharing their love of food with others. It’s hard to make money in the food industry unless your famous or in a world-class and highly publicized location so my respect goes out to those who risk it all to cultivate a little piece of culinary art in the midst of their own unique lives like Anthony, the proprietor of Anthony’s Fine Food and Wine in La Canada.

Without the Cute Gardener’s guidance, I undoubtedly would’ve never crossed paths with this charming and quaint gourmet store that features an elite deli case teeming with awesome exotic cheeses and imported meats as well as shelves upon shelves of custom finds for the foodie like relishes, tapenades, chocolates, rare salts and more. Additionally grand is the fact that the store’s tiny, boutique floor also boasts small seating vignettes where one can sit to enjoy dinner and tapas amongst all the shoppers lending to an intimate, part of the family-type mentality between shoppers and eaters that smears away any pretension or consumerist subterfuge.

 Anthony choosing an angelic patacabra for our plate

Best of all is the fact that the black bearded and serious Anthony does more than lend his name to the place but walks the room, commandeers the counter and consults with customers opting for the meat and cheese board so that each individual order is laid with charcuterie that bespeaks the patron’s individual palate.

For just about 5 bucks apiece, the tapas are also outstanding.

Mojama tuna “Prosciutto” marinated in olive oil with green arbequina olives

Blistered shisito peppers with black sea salt

Even though this place is in a town not ordinarily touted for its cuisine, say for example like the adjacent Los Angeles, it is definitely a destination for me now that I will return to whenever I happen to be out that way. I feel a responsibility to support the small guys especially when they choose to not toe the line and do their own thing in places that they call home.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Astragalus Immune Boosting Brew

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I can be such a huge foodie on the weekends is that the weekdays are filled with a balancing regimen of healthy super foods and special herbs and tonics. My foray into the world of healing consumptives of late has taken me down the path of tinctures and potions designed to allow me to step into a role of white witch crafting medicinal libations and nuggets that soothe and assuage the mind, body and soul. I love spending time in my kitchen concocting special things for loved ones and myself as mixtures boil, broths steep, soups swirl and magic is made over the ritualistic practice of being present, mixing with wisdom, paying attention to age old information and respecting the gifts that nature has always had to give.

Sometimes when I walk into Chinese restaurants, I smell a certain milkweed-sweet aroma permeating the kitchen areas that taunts slightly like comfort food reeling all my senses in. Recently, I discovered that this scent is often due to the presence of astragalus root in the broth used to cook rice. After some research, I found that the root is a traditional Chinese tonic herb with properties as an immune system booster, age reverser and cancer killer.

This past solstice, I celebrated with members of my spirit tribe by hosting a ritual at my home that ended with a feast of specially crafted foods meant to cleanse the organs, infuse the circulatory system and incite the blood with carbonated rejuvenation. One of the dishes was a bowl of Forbidden Black Rice cooked in my newfound astragalus root broth, the tiny bark-like flakes of woody material evoking a hearth-worthy warmth to the air in fragrance as it cooked yet the actual taste of the broth was no different then if I were to cook rice in plain water. 

Now, I tend to cook up gallons of the stuff to keep at all times in my fridge for whenever I need broth or stock. Not only does it work as a base, also it delivers good stuff to the lungs, liver and body. I even created a special healthy alternative to cheese risotto using it as a starter.

Astragalus Stock
Makes 4 cups

In a large soup pot, boil ¼ cup of astragalus root bits in 4 cups of water. Once boiling, bring down to low and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and add water to get the total back up to 4 cups again, cover the pot and let sit out on the stove or counter overnight. In the morning, take out the root bits and place the broth in the fridge to use as you wish.

Astragalus Parmigiano Reggiano Brown Rice

Make a pot of brown rice as you normally would but instead of water use the astragalus broth. While the broth is boiling for the rice, put in a rind from a parmigiano reggiano wedge and let it cook in the broth and then with the rice until done. When done cooking the rice, throw out the rind. It lends a nice subtle tang to the rice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Spices and the Curse of Modernity

Chinois' love of the eighties extended way beyond these dessert plates and turquoise hue...

Wolfgang Puck was the first celebrity chef I ever knew of in my life; not so surprising considering I was a kid growing up in the Southern California ‘80s when Spago took L.A. by storm along with that whole new breed of California continental fusion cuisine.

In high school, one of my closest (and most exotic) friends Sylvie had a father who was a French chef named Michel and worked with Puck for a while. Michel was a big part of my foodie roots because when I would sleep over at their house, he would come home at midnight from whatever restaurant he had worked at with hunks of cheesecake and legs of frog and other tidbits of foreign goodness and would serve it to us with sips of red wine (even though we were only 14). My Francophile disease was obviously largely fueled there.

So by the time I actually lived in L.A. the Spago-craze had simmered from its boil with his newer restaurants taking reign, and I don’t mean the fast food Puck joints that have replaced California Pizza Kitchen in all the mega-malls. I am talking about places like Chinois on Main in Santa Monica that touts itself as an Asian Fusion restaurant and in 1983 when it opened its doors, was considered one of the nation’s finest examples of this. I had very high hopes when the Cute Gardener took me there this past weekend as one of our pit stops on the DineLA week but unfortunately left with a very cold taste in my mouth that I could not shake. After feeling baffled by Chinois’ (seemingly) overhyped 30-year reputation combined with our expectations in comparison to the actual experience, we realized that we might have been suffering from being too modern in our foodie-ness.

Spice Table's smoking hot behind-the-bar grill

Let me explain. Just the week before we had ventured out to Spice Table in Little Tokyo – also touted as Asian fusion but contemporary style by chef Bryant Ng. We ate a meal there that was exciting and revolutionary with flavors and spices that danced from Thai to Vietnamese to Indian all on the same plates, in new marriages and cutting edge ways.

Chinois’ Thai coconut soup tasted like chicken stock with bulbous overcooked meats and no typical citrus-based sprightly-ness…

…while the creamed kale with housemade paneer and pork belly starter at Spice Table pleased in its eccentricity.

Chinois’ crab cakes were mushy and bland, served in a boat of sauce and book-ended by two shrimp while….

...Spice Table’s version was a soupy spread of crab for toast adjacent to savory lamb belly skewers, pumping up the ordinary satay.

Chinois’ pork cube was dry and ordinary compared to…

Spice Table’s braised pigtail with meat that fell off the bones and little bits of marrow between all the joints.

Even though this dish was beautiful, the curry jasmine rice was nothing we hadn’t tried a thousand times before while the Spice Table’s rice came in a neo-sambal sauce.

Maybe what Chinois was suffering was just old age, something that should provoke a proper respect towards the trail it blazed. Kind of like the way new Italian restaurants use fresh ingredients rather than the daylong soaked canned tomatoes in a pot on red-checkered tablecloths of yore; or the way New Vegas eaters are regaled with Michelin star restaurants beyond the sea of cold prime rib buffets; or the unctuous, introduction of imported sashimi in Japanese restaurants replacing the teriyaki and tempura dinners. I guess it’s good that there exist the old and the new for both kinds of foodies: those who resist change and rely on the flavors of their comfortable old plates and those who are constantly seeking out new tastes from chefs who continue to explore and discover.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fresh from the Garden Favorites: Pickles and Crumbles

The pregnant sun, hot and looming over Southern California can be oppressive this time of year but I dare not complain lest I be suddenly forsaken the glorious bounty that has unfolded from the ripe, warm bowels of the Cute Gardener’s backyard oasis that lies around the periphery of his house delivering us things like fresh black and boysenberries alongside squirmy, serpentine Japanese cucumbers each morning.

What to do with these crisp, staunch and curlicue variety of greens? Why pickle them of course, something I have discovered over the last few years to be a brilliantly creative thing. It’s kind of hard to mess up basic, refrigerator pickles. Simply cut your cukes, skin and all, into slices the width of your liking and place them in a pickling jar (you could even use old pickle jars that are depleted from the grocery store). Then create your pickling solution. This is where the possibilities are endless.

A basic solution calls for 1-1/2 cup of any kind of vinegar, 1-1/2 cup of sugar, and 1-1/2 cup of cold water. For those who don’t want to eat all of that sugar, you can cut down the amount or use substitutes like agave nectar or maple. Then you can build upon that and throw in anything you want to experiment with. I like to use things like dill, capers, peppercorns and celery salt. It takes about 24 hours in the fridge to taste what the pickle is going to turn out like and then you can still add more ingredients, continuing to tweak your solution per desire. Recently, I ended pouring a cup of red Italian wine into my jar halfway through a week of marinating along with some new crisp green beans from the garden. You want to try to be finished with your original pickles no more than two weeks from creating them.

In the mornings, I like to have fresh berries with my coffee, just-plucked from the garden, rinsed and served unadorned. But for the evening, nothing makes a better dessert than a crisp with a duo of blackberries and boysenberries underneath a healthier almond crumble that oozes hot and purple tartness into the mouth pre-bed.

Berry Crisp
Makes 2 16-oz. ramekins

3/8 cup almonds, finely chopped
3/8 cup walnuts, finely chopped
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup of packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into ½ inch pieces
4 cups berries (we used boysenberries and blackberries here)
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1.     Chop nuts in small food processor and set aside.
2.     Pulse flour, sugars, and cinnamon in small food processor.  Add butter and pulse 10 times, about 4 seconds each pulse. The mixture will first look like dry sand, then like coarse cornmeal. Add nuts, and then pulse four to five times, about 1 second each pulse. Topping should look like slightly clumpy wet sand. Refrigerate topping at least 15 minutes.
3.     Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
4.     Wash berries. Mix in sugar and cornstarch. Fill ramekins with berry mixture.  Distribute chilled topping evenly over berries.
5.     Bake for 25 minutes until fruit is bubbling and topping turns deep golden brown. Cool, garnish if you'd like, and serve.

Friday, July 20, 2012

San Francisco Bar Beat

There is no better city in the world to become a barfly then San Francisco which is a great reason why the city is my favorite one in the US but an equally great reason why I do not live there. I could easily see myself shacking up as a regular on a stool (or a few) in various neighborhoods like Bukowsky to get my literary grit on.

But when I visit I like going to the old and beloved and well as finding the new. On a recent  trip with the Cute Gardener, we sampled quite a few so I decided to get inspired by my fellow man Jack Kerouac, who loved the city so much that he penned one of my favorite little books called San Francisco Blues, and ink some little ditties.

Haight Ashbury Persian lair, throbbing like a quilted womb,
Ottoman empire mosque shaped bar,
intimate corners 'neath sexy night
amber plum red light cush
weird and exotic rums
and dark-skinned, almond eyes girls
mingling with gay men
mingling with old, dazed, silver haired male hippies
and a pregnant bartender wiser than her 1960s waif sisters.
Good for heated conversations
quiet privacy beneath arched doorways
and jewel colored glasses that glisten
like prisms
throughout the blackness. A throbbing womb
to welcome and hold the curious.

South of Market lobby bar,
breathes and sighs,
whisks you in to its sleek elite,
black polished granite for the clack
of heels and nightcaps-
ending with men in dinnertime coats-
and their lovely dolls lolling across their laps.
Big burly bears stroking mutual thighs on couch,
arrogant young rich boys in for the feminine kill,
politicians getting loose with ladies for sale,
and a neat Old Man and the Sea in a tall glass
between my fishnet-coated knees.

Bare bones rectangular space
with noted street cocktail cred,
perched on stools till witching hour
sampling good old fashioned craft:
bourbon and cherries,
egg cream, port wine and coffee,
blood and sand with fruity brandy,
a poop deck scatological cognac…

…making friends with locals
dressed in vintage blue flick finery
laughter cracking alongside the cubes
of big fat ice floating in gold glass.
Photographing churches on the streets
rolling home.

North Beach joint of the Beats and jazz,
history peppered, smoke shellac walls,
ground zero for literary pilgrims
cuba libres with lime and boisterous boys
bartended by unisex hep cats
no nonsense sketchpad and hang around den.

SOMA wood and swank,
belly up to the bar and spit out your list of faves
to the jolly and hip bartenders
who do nothing more than crave
a list of ingredients,
a piece of sassafras about your ass,
and thirty seconds of gab
before concocting for you, the
drink of your dreams
based on what’s inherent to your palate
and the mood you’d like to make.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Corn on the Cob and Ear of the Hog

My mother would accuse me of sacrilege if she heard me call corn “poison” like I often do. Maybe it’s because when I was little and visiting a live farm in Iowa, it was the corncobs being thrown into the pigpens that fattened up the hogs for butcher. That image of massive, hairy beasts oinking and scuffling around in the mud to score the biggest sections of nature’s sugar stayed with me. Corn has carried negative connotations for me ever since and although I do occasionally make a corn and potato chowder in the winter or throw a few kernels into a loaded guacamole now and again, it’s mostly a food I have tended to stay away from. To me it just equals liquid fat.

So imagine my surprise when I ended up ordering a piping hot corn on the cob as a starter to a *margarita pie at Pizzeria Delfina on a recent trip to San Francisco. It must have been the Fourth of July spirit in the air but more likely it was the fact that the corn came swimming in what was described on the menu as “lardon butter”—a sinful, addictive, milky cream studded with slivers of bacon and sparse flecks of chili pepper.

To make matters even worse, and in homage to that long ago memory of the marriage between corn and pork, I ordered the pig’s ears for dessert. I know, I am not quite sure what got into me, but suddenly I had a pile of yummy, gelatinous fried chewy strings made extra delicious by the hot chili oil that accompanied the dish.

An East Indian woman sitting next to me was giving me the serious stink eye during my entire meal and I couldn’t quite figure out why.  Was I doing something against her religion by eating this combo together? Was I secretly bastardizing all the laws of food? Or was I just showing too much cleavage in my navy, sweater dress for her liking? At least I wasn’t her poor dinner companion who was being admonished for not buying the proper kind of bon bons for what I assumed was an at home movie night they had planned for later.

*Don’t bother going to Pizzeria Delfina if you actually want a quick and quality pizza. There are no reservations so it takes at least thirty minutes to finally get into the loud, tightly seated, constantly busy place. You can share a bottle of wine outside if you want while waiting but it’s typically too windy to enjoy it properly and who wants to be drunk by the time you sit down to your meal. The pizza comes with burn holes all over it and unless you like a side of carcinogens with your mozzarella and tomato sauce, you’d be better off sticking to a tried and true pizza joint.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Asian Affair on Independence Day

This past Saturday I was strolling through an exhibition surrounding the railroad’s history in America at San Marino’s Huntington Library, Art Collection and Gardens when I came across an illustration titled “The Chinese Experience.” In it, a bunch of Chinese men and women were gathered around a table in San Francisco showing some white men their textiles and food. I giggled because I had just experienced my own grand Asian affair in my favorite American city by the Bay for Independence Day.

This past Fourth of July, the Cute Gardener and I decided to celebrate the Asian experience instead of the bombastic fireworks and tourist display that would surely be populating San Francisco’s thumb-shaped bay with mass loads of revelers.

It seemed like every inch of San Francisco had become a ghost town overnight as we drove the car down eerily empty streets on the starkly white sunny day towards the Tenderloin District. We were on the hunt for the best banh mi at Saigon Sandwiches. The tiny hole in the wall already had about six people stuffed into its small entrance door squeezed around the two people eating at the only seats in the place. A mere deli counter stuffed to the gills with Vietnamese yam, gel, and taro puddings and candy treats in unnatural colors that were oddly alluring welcomed us. As we waited in line, we watched the two ladies mechanically filing and stuffing made to order sandwiches that came in just a few varieties of pork and chicken with stacks of carrots, cilantro and onions piled on top and a few slices of raw jalapeno. They didn’t even bat an eye when the homeless man came strolling through the line begging the customers for a dollar and even getting into a fight with an alley cat young lady with a trucker’s mouth. 

We drove our warm sandwiches up to Twin Peaks and sat on top of the world as we ate our $3.50 stuffed to the brim treats. A few days later I would come to see a franchise type banh mi store on Fillmore where sandwiches cost $8 bucks a pop and young kids in shiny uniforms served them up with dull looks on their faces. I was happy that we had uncovered the real deal.

In the afternoon, we walked through the Inner Richmond District that was as empty as the rest of the town, to the small and ancient Bridge Theater. An independent movie house in the middle of a block full of Asian eateries and computer repair stores, it satisfied all the things I liked about the day already—celebrating our freedom by choosing to stay away from the crowds and eke out small undiscovered gems with a subtle poignancy. The ticket takers at the theater were offering free popcorn in exchange for correct answers to trivia questions and a water pitcher sat next to the theater entrance for those not wanting to pay lots of money for overpriced candy. We were there to see a small and precious movie called Jiro Dreams of Sushi about a man whose life has been devoted to mastering the craft of the raw fish delicacy. To me, the Asian aesthete represents things done with care, modesty, silence and an extreme respect towards patience, minding the words and actions and cultivation without an expectation for validation. A minimalist approach to life in its present form is emphasized with large demonstration towards a small and simple life of meaning rather than the other way around.   

We ended our day with a trip to Chinatown’s R&G Lounge for some traditional Cantonese cuisine. We were specifically looking for Peking duck and deep fried crab.

The two-story restaurant was crammed full and we were shown downstairs into the basement where I felt like we were inside someone’s old home. Tables squished together full of families in all forms of dress, paper lamps and colorful murals on the wall, gilded mirrors all around and tons of happily smacking lips.

The duck was sweet and came with homemade buns but the crab was the treat of the evening with its pepper and salt simplified glory, fried whole and with a head shell stuffed with fried brains (eyeballs included as you can see above) and other dirty parts favored by my dining mate. We both needed a bath when we left, hands sore from cracking claws and full of juice all over our clothes.

We were obviously sated and hungry for more because our Asian experience didn’t end there but would carry over to the next day as we went on the hunt for Japanese.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Tale of Two Restaurants: Dueling Dinners in San Francisco

On a recent trip to San Francisco, the Cute Gardener and I made reservations at two very expensive restaurants: Gary Danko (New American) and Jardiniere (French/American). During the five-month window when same sex marriage was legal in the state of California in 2008, two of my gay male friends were wed in San Francisco and celebrated with a small party of family and friends over a $500 dinner at Gary Danko, which boasts a Michelin star. I had been itching to go since hearing about their decadent dinner. Same went for Jardiniere, a place that I was told would float my boat for all things art nouveau as the French-American place supposedly had a grand sweeping staircase and curvaceous railings that lined the perimeter of the entire upper half of the restaurant where diners ate while looking down through a central space to the bottom floor bar filled with jewel-like bottles and glasses.

When we arrived at Danko we found a simple, dark and elegant dining room to welcome our dressed up selves. It was a high heel, coat and tie kind of night and the hostess took our jackets immediately for the coat check. Upon sitting we were asked if wanted to see the menu before deciding upon cocktail or wine. The seduction began as I was impressed by the thick, luscious red roses in crystal upon our table but the CG was a bit irritated by the white napkins that were not replaced by black to mesh in with our darker attire. The room seemed to be filled with either Bay Area elite families out for early supper or couples who looked like they had saved up their whole paychecks for this experience. Although formal dress was called for, most of the men were tie-less. The seats were so close together that we spent a lot of time avoiding the flash bulb of a female dining next to us as she alternated between iPhone texting and taking pictures of her soup slurping mate.

At Jardiniere, we were welcomed into an equally dark space where the hostess also took our coats immediately. Upon being whisked up the staircase we were seated at the best table available at the moment for a perfect glance downward into the bar and around the spacious second floor at our dining peers. Everyone was dressed up nicely and the room’s patrons were diverse; a sign of a place where the food comes first and allures everyone in equally for an exquisite shared experience. The tables were spaced so far apart that we felt we were alone in our little romantic world. (Well, that is until a guy on a date nearby started getting louder as he got drunker and drunker finally admitting to his woman that he was a really a smoker and needed to step out for a break.)

An Amuse Bouche should always be something special that you are not used to seeing on the restaurant’s normal menu but that still harkens to the kind of food the chef is known for preparing in his kitchen. The merguez sausage meatball at Danko failed these two tests but the small and cheesy gougeres at Jardiniere were perfectly Harmonique with the wine.

Extremely nice but overpriced wine at Danko while our first choice at Jardiniere was not available at all.

While neck and neck up till now, the charcuterie plate at Jardiniere quickly put it into first place. Everything was made in house and included a soft and fleshy country pate, jambon, spicy coppa, completely fatty and rare pancetta on toast and a rosette de lyon.

It made the pistachio encrusted sweet bread at Danko fall short not to mention that the sweetbreads, although cooked to a creamy oblivion which I like, were still connected by sinews and there is nothing grosser than having a cow sinew wedge itself into your teeth like floss mid-bite.

Jardiniere’s roasted eggplant soup with shelling bean escabeche, nicoise olives and chevre was beautifully fresh and hearty. I loved the small pile of mushrooms, beans, olives and olive oil that were piled atop the center of the soup, which we speared small bites from during each dip into the luxurious broth.

At this point, I don’t even recall what our entrees were at Danko because I am remembering the insanely rich and filling carnaroli risotto with porcini mushrooms I had for dinner. I chose this starter as a main and still could only eat half. It came topped with a sumptuous fried squash blossom stuffed with sheep’s milk ricotta cheese.

The CG had an Alaskan salmon with cherry tomatoes, artichokes, borlotti beans and castelvetrano olives – a sprightly plate with fish that was verging on raw which is top notch in his book. He likes to see fish cooked on the verge of that frightful line but rarely finds anyone who will do it.

Oh yes, speaking of fish, now it comes back to me that I had a branzino at Danko which was a plate of paper thin filets, overly dry and flavorless.

Jardiniere came out on top until the dessert was served. The dry and crumbling cake was not memorable neither were the caramels we were given as a consolation prize. The desserts at Danko were the best parts of dinner starting with the macaron ice cream sandwiches were stuffed with pineapple, raspberry and pecan praline. The CG’s butter cake was moist, dense and delicious.

If that weren’t enough, we were given a plate of custom made candies that we shared bite by bite.

And I was presented with a special pineapple vanilla cake in gold wrapping to take home as a gift. We shared it the morning after for breakfast.

It’s hard to say what I liked better. If I were just grading on food, Jardiniere would win hands down and that is because a place like Danko’s shouldn’t have a Michelin star if it can’t seduce in the food department as well as the perks. But those perks were awfully seductive and out of the ordinary in this foodie’s world and sometimes, for someone who eats out all the time, it is the little things that do count. In a perfect world, these restaurants would merge the best things about each other, freshen up the dark atmosphere, train the waiters a little better on the merits of consistent service, and become one. 

Yes, I realize this blog makes me sound completely spoiled in the food department. Good old San Francisco tends to have that affect on my soul. I will be back down to earth shortly as the trip becomes more of a memory.