Feasting on the Opposite Coast

In Italian there is a simple expression, ‘si mangia bene’, one eats well. In San Francisco, one eats well. There is a lot of creativity and community around food, and as someone who is inspired by seasonal, local food, California has a lot to give.

I wandered through the aisles of Bi-Rite with the lovely Kimberley of The Year in Food, where we picked up some local figs and a bottle of a bright, lightly sparkling wine from Kermit Lynch before heading across the street to the Bi-Rite Creamery (why has someone not lead me here sooner?!) where I sampled the famed salted caramel and some dreamy honey lavender ice cream. We enjoyed all of the above and each other’s company one sunny afternoon in Mission Dolores park.

I caught up on a whole decade of experiences with my old friend, Brian, while we leisurely worked our way, course by coarse, through the inspired daily menu at Bar Jules. Truthfully I savored every dish – grilled sardines and white beans might have been my favorite had we not given in to the Chocolate Nemesis – but rekindling an old friendship was the ultimate pleasure of the evening.

Brad and I waited in the daunting line for happy hour at the Hog Island Oyster Co. in the ferry building (which is an artisanal food heaven all on its own). We slipped in just in time to order several dozen oysters – my favorite being the Sweetwaters from nearby Tomales Bay – and the day’s special glass of Fume Blanc which we enjoyed as we watched the sun set just beyond the bustle of this amazing little place.

We joined forces with our trusty hosts and dining companions Amanda (sister-in-law) and Alec for an epic meal at the hip Mission eatery, Delfina. The four of us took on many dishes in many courses, paired with a several fantastic bottles of Italian wines, and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite – although well over a week later, the memory of the ‘Hay and Straw’ pasta which I would liken to ‘Carbonara on crack’ (with a quail egg) still lingers in my mind. That and the profiteroles, oh my….

The next day we went north to eat and drink some more.

Brad and I were also in town for a wedding – one hell of a party to celebrate the union of Emily and Joe. We drank “Joe and Juice” (bourbon and elderflower cocktails) and cut a serious rug to 4 (!) sets by the very funky Breakestra.

This event brought friends from the East Coast west, and when you have so many good friends, some residents and some visitors, in the same city at the same time, there is no better party than a massive dinner party. A month or so back, Amanda called me to tell me she and Alec were going to make my braised pork tacos – with a 7lb. bone in pork shoulder. The result, they reported back, was insanely delicious. A joint effort at an encore seemed the perfect foundation for our menu for 10.

And the crew we assembled, well, we have a history and we don’t take collaborative dinner parties lightly. We always go all out. The menu also included red snapper ceviche, a salad of endive, fennel and oranges (oh California citrus, and avocados, how I wish you could grow in my Brooklyn backyard), and two different homemade ice creams – resulting in a goat milk kefir chocolate chip vs. honeyed peanut and chocolate smack-down. There was of course plenty of wine, endless sidesplitting conversation and a finale of crazy cat dancing.

I feel a delicious food coma coming on just reminiscing… All in all it was an amazing week of food, sun and most important, friends. I suppose it’s the presence of these people, with whom I shared many great meals and conversations, that made me feel so at home in a city that’s not my own.

3 Responses to “Feasting on the Opposite Coast”

  1. #

    Jen Corbett says:

    Come back, let’s do it again!

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      Heather says:

      I’m working on it ;) And for your ice cream, I’d go anywhere!

  2. #

    Daughter Fish says:

    I am still dreaming about those amazing pork tacos. And I could have a Joe and Juice right about now!

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