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Monday, October 10, 2011

san francisco trip, day one

Thursday was filled with running and almost-lateness and anxiety sweat. Let us not speak of it, other than to say that traveling with John is powerfully frustrating and stressful until you get to a place on your itinerary where there are no hard stops. If we were on Amazing Race together it would be the death of our marriage.

We dropped our things off at the hotel, which was like a Victorian Motel 6, with shared bathrooms and cupboard-sized rooms (I didn't mind it and would stay there again, and hence spend more money on food and clothes, as long as there are no bedbugs, knock on wood). Then we took a cab down to the pier and boarded our ferry to Alcatraz. It was Fleet Week, so on our trip there and back we watched the Blue Angels perform death-defying stunts in their jets, and John nearly had a joy seizure. We wandered around and admired the accommodations on Alcatraz, listening to the audio tour. We had to keep skipping ahead because we were trying to make the ferry back to San Francisco so we wouldn't miss our dinner reservation, which bummed me out. Some of Thursday's stress can be blamed on me, since I put Alcatraz and Chez Panisse in the same day, with not a lot of time to spare.

John is thinking, "What a great view!"

I am learning what happens when people get sick of spaghetti (hint: riots).

I wish I had been able to spend four hours at Alcatraz, it was so fascinating. I would go there again tomorrow if I could. Very interesting.

Against all odds we made our reservation, and our perfect dinner began.
I don't look like I was just fretting in the cab, plucking at John's sleeve and begging him to call the restaurant and hold our reservation, do I?

Everyone from the hostess to the servers to the kitchen staff was friendly and gracious, and the hostess took us on a tour through the kitchen, and showed us their meat locker. The kitchen is incredibly calm, with nobody swearing or throwing things, or even sweating perceptibly. Everyone was working quietly and efficiently at their stations, but they smiled and happily answered questions and talked about their dishes. I was overwhelmed by it all, to be honest. It was one of those experiences where after the fact you think, "Oh, I should have said that!" But it is too late now, and they'll never know how impressed I was. Not that they will suffer. The way I have described it so far is thusly: I have had dishes as good as those I ate at Chez Panisse, but never better, and never an entire, impeccable, flawless meal. The pictures were taken with our primitive camera and do not do the food justice, but I have no interest in lugging around one of those albatross cameras.
Figs and house-made prosciutto.

Onion tartlet.

Halibut.

Lamb with ratatouille and onion rings.

We forgot to take a picture of the granita with peach sherbet and peach slices. Oops, accident. And I will say that the peach was not as good as a Brigham City peach, but since I had been eating Angelus peaches the day before, and Canadian Harmony peaches the week before that, it was a competition they had no hope of winning. They can't help it that California peaches are inferior.
Everything was perfectly cooked, seasoned, sauced and garnished. I really can't describe it properly. There was very little conversation at our table, because John and I were just making food noises most of the night. The people at the tables near us were all eating like, "This ain't no thing," and I guess it's nice for them that they've eaten there and at similar caliber restaurants enough times that they're unaffected, but I feel sad and irritated that they take such gorgeous food--food into which such careful thought and preparation has been put, food that many people are not lucky enough to eat--for granted. I guess I have an immature palate.

Then we went to Andronico's, and I was envious of the variety of cheeses and bought some sheep's milk yogurt.

3 comments:

Tori said...

I love San Francisco. Jealous. Also jealous of Chez Panisse...the last destination restaurant I went to was The Lady & Sons. I am ashamed to admit that.

tipsybaker said...

Onion rings? Hmmm.
But Alcatraz and Chez Panisse -- really, a perfect day.

Tori, I would like to eat at Lady & Sons.

All8 said...

I'm officially jealous, just so you know.