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Thursday, August 27, 2009

AN ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL LAST DAY AND EVENING TO REMEMBER!

My last day in San Francisco (for this month anyway...)
Seriously it will be awhile until I return this time, because I have places to go for the next three months, (which of course I will write about), so San Francisco, more than likely will not be visited again until the new year....
This makes today, my last day here, somewhat bittersweet....
What a day and evening it has been though!!!!!!!!

I stayed up a bit late last night writing this blog, so when my wake up call came at 9:30am, I simply COULD NOT drag myself out of bed (could have something to do with my being up around 34 hours straight on Monday, don't know....)
I woke up finally at around 1100am, and had just enough time to get ready for the play that I was seeing this afternoon....
I called the concierge, and she honored my request to pick up my new necklace that was being re- sized for me a couple of blocks over...She insisted on going herself, as she had never actually seen this wonderful jewelry shop, even though she had suggested it, but only heard of it...She was excited to go...(Maybe she just wanted to be able to leave the hotel...not sure...All I know is that she was going to pick up my necklace for me, and I was happy....)
She showed up at my door with the necklace, and I tipped her, and asked if she had taken a look, and she said that she "hadn't dared to" so I invited her in to see it...She gasped...I gasped...
We both decided that it was the perfect necklace that could be worn anywhere....Jeans or velvet, it was a go....That was the selling point to me as well, as I have no patience for having to wait for an "occasion" to be able to wear a wonderful piece of jewelry, and simply refuse to....I like to wear whatever piece I want when I am in the mood to do so...One of life's many pleasures....

The play, "August, The Osgage", was outstanding...The theater was PACKED....The set was simple and appropriate...The place itself is being touted as the best "modern day Tennessee Williams type of piece" known in these times...The reviews don't lie....Along with the writing, the cast is dynamic...It is a HIT! I feel so lucky to be amongst the first to see it straight off Broadway and it's Tony Winning Award Status....The dialogue is "raw" sometimes...There are two 10 minute breaks...The play is 3 1/2 hours long...On both breaks, I hear some of the people around my parents age stating, "I didn't hear that kind of language in the Service!", or "I don't even KNOW people that speak that way!"....Well, I certainly didn't hear anything new, or even anything that I've never said before, (sorry Mom and Daddy), so it was not at all shocking to me...This is a play that I must make absolute sure that my sister sees when it comes to Dallas this January...My friend David as well...They will both LOVE it....

I took a MUCH needed nap when I got back from the Theater and had one of the worst dreams that I have ever had...The characters in the dream were all members of my family, and it was one of those dreams that you don't realize is a dream, and it was horrifying....I'm sure that it had something to do with the play, as it was a seriously DARK DARK comedy....

Thank heavens I had called and amended my dinner reservation for 9 PM, because the concierge forgot and did the wake up call a bit late, still I made it to dinner a bit ahead of time...
Tonight, my pick for dinner was a place that was called "GLOBE".... (Of course, I had never been there, as I think that I shared with you earlier, that it is always my plan to visit new places....The exception to this will be in Boston this Fall, where I WILL visit new places, but two of my very favorite places are there, so of course I must revisit them....)

As usual, I do a lot of research before spending the time, money, and calories at an establishment....I was happy that I had not eaten all day...When you have dinner and drinks at 9 PM, it's just a happier situation from the start!
The cabbie let me out on the corner from this establishment, and honestly, it looked a bit "divey" from the onset, but as that never stops me, I soared into the place...
Inside it was more what I would term, "comfortable" and "cool vibed" (if that is even still understood in this day and age...)
For the most part, the walls were rather stark, the restaurant was small and dark (LOVE DARK), and the tables and booths very comfy....The very, very small kitchen was half visible in the back, and that is where I was seated. I had specifically asked NOT to be put in what I like to term a "Manhattan" table, which is backed up to the wall, right NEXT (as though you are having dinner with them), another table...Surprisingly, my message was read, and reiterated, and I had my very own table right near the kitchen, where I could spy the chefs expressions while they worked...(I liked that...of course it did not hurt that the "main" chef looked like Kurt Cobain...not sure about that spelling, btw....)....
I ordered a house specialty cocktail (something with vodka, lemon, mint, etc)...good, but next visit I will order a glass of wine, as it would go much better with the cuisine....
The menu was small...Only a few dishes in each category, but it looked extremely promising...

For Appetizers:

Mariquita Farms wild arugula with baby beets and ricotta salata
Gazpacho with dungeness crab, avocado, cucumber and sweet tomatoes
Salad lardon: frisee with warm bacon vinaigrette and poached chick eggs
Tuna tartare with genovese basil and black olive tapenade
Blistered padron peppers and cherry tomatoes with fresh mozzarella
Rabbit rillettes with pickles, grain mustard and brioches roll
Mixed heirloom tomatoes with dry cured olives, cucumbers, Genovese basil and feta
PT. Reyes oysters (Tomales Bay)
Soup of the day

Average price appetizers was around $12 (except for the oysters)

Here were the sides....($7.00 each)

Creamy corn with marjoram
Macaroni and Tillamook cheese
Romano beans with bacon
Beets with lemon and basil

Entrees....

Braised lamb shank with potato risotto and sweet 100 tomatoes
Homemade spaghetti with roasted tomatoes, basil and garlic
King salmon on boccacino pasta with rapini, aglio e olio and salsa verde
Local halibut with Capay Organic zucchini and heirloom tomato fondue
Grilled Meyer Ranch bone-in ribeye with grilled onions and potato gratin for two
Potato gnocchi with chanterelles, bacon and chives
Quail over baby leeks, pancetta and black mission figs
Spicy monkfish stew with clams, mussels, habeneros and chili fish broth

The most expensive entree was the steak for two which was $26!

Pizza

Green tomatoes and fontina cheese
Wild mushroom and black truffle oil
Sopressata with egg sunnyside up
Fennel sausage and onions greens

Pizzas were $16

What a great priced restaurant, eh?

I have a decided weakness for Salad Lardon, having the best I have ever had at a restaurant by the name of "Hammersley's Bistro" in Boston (had dinner twice while I was there!), and so I decided to see what "Globe" could do with it....

Expertise and Quality Ingredients, plus possibly a trip or two to France is all I've gotta say....
The Frisee was mounded in the center of the shallow bowl, dressed with an almost "too tart" vinagrette, (though I loved it, some would wince a bit), and scattered nice cubed and fried pieces of lardon were on top, and on EACH side (there's usually only ONE), were TWO FRESH CHICK EGGS (you can SO tell the difference), that were lightly and PERFECTLY poached....
A real contender for BEST SALAD LARDON ( right up there with the infamous Hammersley's)
I made sure that the message got to the chef....

For an entree, I chose the homemade light and fluffy potato gnocchi....
Swimming in a light but extremely flavorful sauce with a generous amount of delicious chanterelles, with just the right touch of bacon and chives....
Someone in the kitchen knows EXACTLY what they're doing...GNOCCHI this light is a masterpiece to be able to pull off....Couple that with one of the most flavorful and light sauces on pasta that I have ever encountered, and you've got yourself something to talk about...
So here I am doing just that....

It would simply not be right of me to leave out dessert, as it was another big-time WINNER....
First I will share the dessert menu with you, though....

Warm pluot crostata, plum jam creme chantilly
Flourless chocolate mousse bar pistachio crunch
Elderberry brulee, chocolate fudge cake and almond phyllo
Peach gateau, maple-almond ice cream

All desserts were $8

Needless to say, EVERYTHING, including the ice cream, is made in-house....

I chose the elderberry brulee, chocolate fudge cake and almond phyllo.....

The dessert consisted of a square dense base of chocolate fudge cake, topped with the most delightful square, thicker than the cake, of FROZEN Creme Brulee, mixed with Almond Phyllo...Around the cake was a drizzle of elderberry sauce.....
The dessert could certainly be shared, but not too much for one...(or not for THIS one...), and was amazing...I have never had anything like it...It was light but OH SO DELICIOUS! Every bite was an epiphany!
I told the restaurant that I would not only be back, and tell everyone that I knew about it, but would also feature it in my blog....The hostess wanted the address of my blog...So....Here is my review...Hope that I did the restaurant justice....Also, lest I forget, I must make mention of the graciousness of the restaurant personnel....This makes for an even nicer experience...

I will say, that this particular trip has been a most foodie inspiring one...My last trip here a month ago was interesting as well, but this visit was certainly one that was worth writing about...I have decided to start featuring restaurant reviews in my blog when I visit places that are worth mentioning...You can be sure that it will mean most anytime that I am out of town, but it might also include some dining experiences that I have in my own city as well.....

This, as most of my solo trips, has been very interesting and rewarding in so many ways....I ended the night, before I REALLY ended it (which is when I write this blog), by having a "nightcap" at my hotel bar...Lovely space....The bar, of course, is all part of the hotel...If it's not wonderful, I probably won't stay there....
I sat at the bar, and two seats down from me, sat a man dining on what I had the night that I arrived, their wonderful burger and pomme frites....
After a few minutes, I asked the man if he enjoyed the pomme frites, as much as I had...There began a very, very long and interesting conversation with one of the more intriguing individuals that I have met for a very long time (and I meet A LOT of interesting people on my Solo Trips)...I will not go into detail, but let us just conclude that we talked of many interesting things and laughed and mutually enjoyed our conversation ...This man is very successful...A producer, director, and writer, as it turns out, of "America's Most Wanted", and previously a Stand-Up Comic, and still writes for some of the most successful comedy shows on television...He is here shooting a piece, (actually sounds interesting, though I confessed that I don't like "America's Most Wanted", because it freaks me out...Same reason that I don't watch the local news)...
They are shooting in Berkley....We have a lot in common....We talked a lot about hospitals...His young son died in one a few years ago....We talked about writing and performing comedy...We compared notes on hotels and restaurants in San Francisco, Manhattan, Santa Fe, Washington DC, (where he lives), Boston, and other places....He had MANY questions for me....(Who knew I was interesting enough for one to ask so many questions about?...Hmmm....Did I convince you for just a second that I don't think that I am?....Sucker!....Just kidding...Couldn't help myself, as usual...)

If you are wondering, he was age appropriate, highly intelligent, nice looking, very successful, kind, extremely interesting, and MARRIED to a wonderful woman who works as a producer for Lifetime television....YES....As I have said before......All the good ones....(and I'll let you finish that sentence....)
Still, I LOVE meeting these intruiguing people from all walks of life...It has simply become my absolute JOY to travel and experience these things....
I feel SO lucky to be able to do so....
This part of my life is turning out better than I could have ever hoped!
Hope you enjoy this post.....
Later.........

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

San Francisco Again and Again and Again......

I know that I was here a month ago...

So what...

I'm here again...

There's a reason, there is...Promise



I WANTED TO....



Hmmm....

Reason enough for me....



No one in their right mind NEEDS a reason to visit San Francisco on a regular basis...

(especially someone who lives in blaring, unreasonable, unforgiving, cruel heat, like that of

Dallas....)

Miserable is not a state in which I find happiness or contentment, so I escape it at all costs....

(if I can...and I can....)

Work yourself to death? Sure...You gotta keel over from something...Might

as well be in luxurious surroundings....



My Father told me last week, (my Mother had just said that she was going "to die in two years", and I think that I commented on that extraordinary premonition), "Well, you might as well start
preparing for DEATH the minute you're born, cause it might just be a rumor, but I think a valid one, that everyone DIES"...



THE TRUTH.....EXPOSED....



I was dumbfounded....Part of my childlike demeanor vanished forever!



So, I am in one of the most wonderful places on earth, in my opinion...

San Francisco....

Love is the word that comes to mind....

Love for weather

Love for hotels

Love for people

Love for art

Love for unique and beautiful jewelry (don't ask...Okay, but I could not stop myself!)

DRUM ROLL PLEASE.....



LOVE FOR INCREDIBLE CUISINE!



Now, it is no secret to any of you that follow me, that I am a bonafide "Foodie"...

I was a "Foodie" before anyone would admit it, before anyone cared to even discuss it....

We certainly weren't the group that we are today...

Large and Looming...

Bonded and Interesting!



I do a lot of research before I leave town...I do it about everything...hotels, art, theater, weather, general happenings, but CUISINE is absolutely paramount! (hotels and food being the very most important of all...)



I do my homework, and 9 1/2 times out of 10 it pays off....

Tonight was NO exception....

Having been here a month ago, I was very interested in making reservations at a different hotel and two different great restaurants that I had not visited last month, or ever...

This time I elected to stay at "The Campton Place Hotel"....First thing is...Perfect Location...
Second...Lovely...
If you can get a decent rate as I did, (it's usually WAY overpriced), I highly recommend it...
Simple, streamlined elegance....
Service is incredible....
Royalty is the word that comes to mind...



I DID hit a "HOME RUN" with my choice to dine at "The House", an unassuming little "you'd never know unless you knew", Asian Fusion restaurant in the North Beach area of the city.



There are many restaurants in North Beach, and in my opinion, they are head to head with the delicious cuisine that one can find in the "Mission" area....

Both are known for the best dining venues in this "Foodie Heaven"....



I walked in to "The House", and almost hit someone with the door, as there were several people "crouched" around the opening of the restaurant...It was small, unadorned, LOUD, and crowded...It is Tuesday night...Even in San Francisco, this is CROWDED!

About 1/2 of the restaurant patrons are Asian...



THIS IS A VERY GOOD SIGN!



Everyone in the restaurant has a look on their face that is reminiscent of a child on Christmas morning after Santa has visited...



THIS IS A VERY GOOD SIGN!



I had read that even if one has a reservation, they still have to wait...

On the way over, I mention to the cabbie that I have heard that this restaurant is very good...

He responds, "Yeah, that's what I was told..."

This doesn't feel promising to me, and he goes on to say, "Just don't order the seafood combination plate...There was a little scoop of rice, and then only 4 shrimp! (turns out there is nothing that even begins to resemble a "seafood combination" on the menu...I feel sure that he is confusing this restaurant with "Red Lobster"....)

I felt just a twinge better...It dawned on me that he was just "cheap".

I know "cheap" when I hear or see it....For some reason, people that work in a hospital tend to be afflicted with it...

Sorry, just the truth...Not sure why...



When I arrive at the restaurant, I start to feel a bit negative that no one has come over to ask me
if I have a reservation...I ask the group of people next to me, "Is there even someone that comes to ask?"
They reply "Yes...It's usually just one of the waiters...They came about 20 minutes ago and told us that they were getting our table ready..."

Hmmmm.....

The waitresses look harried and crazy...The patrons look exhilarated...

I say, "Well, you know, it's Tuesday night, and there are many other places that I could go..." as my eyes gaze at the bevy of cabs driving up and down the street...

A young woman in the waiting party asks, "Have you ever been here before?'

"No", I reply....

"It's Asian Fusion, you know..."

"I know"

"It's amazing"...

"Not what my cabbie said..."

This, by the way, is an entire family waiting together..Her Mother smiles at me...
One of those, "I know something that you don't" smiles"..

"I can't imagine...It's quite amazing...", the young woman comments....



About this time, people are starting to line up out on the street..
Cramming to try to get into the door...One of the waiters comes over and says, "Please shut the door...You have to stay out on the street....You MUST close this door!"

A poor, waiting girl on the street pleads, "But we just want to put our name in ....Paleeeeessseee!"

The owner...it appears...goes outside, and is heard to pronounce, "It will be at least an hour, unless you have a reservation...."

No one moves...They all look like they're having a "block party"...No one attempts to leave...

People just keep coming...There is an absolute small "crowd" outside...
You would think there that was a celebrity inside..

They wait tirelessly...They MUST have dinner here....
It's an obvious obsession...



Finally a waitress comes over...She asks me if I have a reservation...I tell her that I do and in my Bitchy "KNOW IT FRIGGIN ALL VOICE" ask her...

"How long is the wait expected to be?"

( I have one foot in the door and another headed for the Mission area....)
She says 10 minutes...I wait...

I get a table...Near the kitchen, which I usually turn my nose up at, but somehow this time it is inconsequential....

The aromas that waif from the kitchen are heady and aromatic to the point that I almost feel weak with anticipation...

Suddenly I remember what it felt like to fall in love...

I am mentally drooling....(I think that I have mentioned previously that I NEVER drool in public)



I start with the crab cake with a spicy Asian remoulade..



It comes beautifully stylized, standing up in a shallow dish dressed and fried as a "pear" and the stem is a "taro chip strip"....(now I only know this because I have seen and tasted taro chips at Whole Foods....)



I have had MANY crab cakes in my time, some of which have been utterly delicious...

This one is unspeakable...There are no words to describe the sensation my tastebuds are
experiencing...It's obscene....

When I take the first bite of this crispy amazing concoction and dip it in the spicy Asian Remoulade, I have to take a deep breath, for fear that I will cry in public!

From that point on, I take small delectable bites, chewing slowly to savor each flavorful moment...


Next is a dish of spicy Sechuwan Noodles with a Grilled Flatiron Steak....


The noodles are homemade and thicker than spaghetti or the usual oriental noodles......They are mixed with a sauce, 2 or 3 different julienned peppers, sesame seeds, and other ingredients, then layered with sauteed and delicious shredded Napa cabbage, then the flavorful grilled steak, and finally topped with more sauce, flash fired onions, peppers, and sesame seeds...
Across the bowl are a couple of thinly sliced radishes topped with a very small amount of a florescent orange substance, which I believe is salmon roe, though that is just an educated guess...
(the only kind that I care to make...Okay..just hit me...)

This dish is so creative and beautiful that it takes me a moment to delve into it....but ONLY A MOMENT.....

The homemade noodles, of course, do not even resemble those in a box, and the sauce is so complex that even I (a pretty good dissector, as cooks or foodies go...), cannot quite place all of
the ingredients together in my mind....
The steak is sliced and cooked to a PERFECT Medium...pink and juicy, and the entire dish is a dream....

Dessert is not NEEDED (when is it ever?), but is ordered out of sheer curiosity...
What will an Asian Fusion restaurant, which is quite clearly, "the real thing", do with a homemade apple pie?
Curious foodies everywhere need to know...
It is my duty to find out!

What can they do?
A LOT... is the answer to that...
Now, some would say that it was not sweet enough, but then I am not one who likes an overly sweet melange of apples...
The topping IS sweet with cinnamon and the crust is something that my Daddy would be exhilarated over, plus the accompanied scoop of vanilla ice cream was the perfect foil as usual...


The dessert looks so appealing, that a diner next to me exclaims,

"WHAT IS THAT? THAT LOOKS DELICIOUS...OH, MY..."

She is eating her entree, but I ask her if she wants a bite anyway...She doesn't, but a very pleasant conversation follows between the couple and myself...
He wanted to know how I found out about the restaurant, as it is somewhat obscure to those who don't already know about it...
They ended up wanting to know what the website address of my blog was, and I hope that they enjoy it...
(I can be such a braggart...almost as bad as that aforementioned type of parent that sticks window stickers on the back of their cars about their incredibly talented child...)

Most of the time, I think that I am almost just as bad....even worse because it's about MYSELF!!!!


SHAMELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tomorrow I go to the Tony Award Highly Touted Play, "August, The Osage"....
It stars Estelle Parsons, and from the Tony Awards presentation, it seriously looks like a winner...It is said to be one of the best pieces written in many years...
I am stoked..

It will be amazing...I can already feel it...(It better be...it's 3 1/2 hours long!!!!!)

Well, I have finished the "Lemon Drop Martini" that the Bartender brought while I wrote this...

I have had a nice impromptu conversation with a Drop Dead Gorgeous YOUNG man from Switzerland next to me on the other computer, so now it's time for sweet dreams....(which should be NO TROUBLE after this lovely evening's end...Oh to be young again...In a city by myself...Beautiful and appealing...To meet, by chance, a member of Switzerland's Royal Family...the Prince himself...)

Aw....c'mon...who am I talking about?
IT'S SO TIME FOR BED!

Later....








Time for a sweet dreams........Later......