after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Napa/SF: Days 6 and 7

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t says: A long time ago, g and I cataloged our adventures in Napa and SF.  However, we left out days 6 and 7.  Half of this was due to our laziness, and 49% was due to our fear that readers would have heard enough about California.  The last 1% was a more of a “test” to ourselves – could we remember what we ate?  As I recall, we did do some very fun and exciting things on these final days.  We visited SFMoMA and Yerba Buena Gardens.  We went shopping.  We ate at the Samovar Tea Lounge for lunch, which had surprisingly good food – I wish we had a comparable teal lounge in Philly (or maybe there is one and I just don’t know about it?  Does Tbar have good food?).  But really, the grand finale of eating for those final days was a trip to Range for dinner on night 6.

Range was a significant meal for us, as it’s a Michelin one-star restaurant in SF, and it’s probably the only starred that we could afford to go to.  Located in the Mission, it was a little further to get to than our other dining destinations that trip, but it didn’t matter to us because we were so jazzed to be dining at our first Michelin starred restaurant!!  But, as I sit here now, 9 months later … I can’t remember much about it at all.  I do remember that they didn’t have the wine I had originally ordered from their list … but as far as the food went – I am drawing a blank.  So I pulled out the receipt that I had annotated (I do this a lot) and here’s what we had.

1 salad: bacon, little gem, radish, peppercorn
1 pasta: goat cheese, sorrel, lemon-butter, chive
1 steak (g got steak … surprise!)
1 pork: pork shoulder and sausage
some wine … which wasn’t my first choice … and
1 souffle: chocolate, raspberry, tea leaf

And then my memory finally started to work … a little.  I recall the pasta appetizer – I remember it being very rich – with the goat cheese overtaking a lot of the taste and texture (it was ravioli I believe).  It was one helluva brick of an appetizer – it could have been a full meal if they doubled the portion size.  I distinctly remember asking the server if it was going to be “too heavy” or not (it was a hot day outside, so I wanted something “Springier” – if that’s a word) and she said that it would be hearty, but fit to start a meal.  Methinks she was a bit misinformed.  But that’s ok, because I now remember my pork.  It was the superior dish of the two.  Actually, it was like a different chef conceived of this dish.  There were some beautiful flavors hidden in a piece of pork shoulder that was very tenderly cooked.  And while I forget the details, I recall that the dish had balance, quite unlike that appetizer.  It was accompanied by some house made sausage, but to be honest, that was only “good” – I can remember no more about it.

And then there was the souffle – only notable because the “tea leaf” was this kind of sauce that you could pour into the souffle.  I’m not sure if this is sacrilege for souffle enthusiasts, but I recall the tea flavor rather nicely accompanying the dark chocolate and hint of raspberry.  Actually, of all the things I ate that night, this perhaps was the one taste I can remember the most vividly – it was new and different and made me think a little.  I liked it.

In the end, I guess I failed the test of memory – I simply could not remember what I ate before pulling out the receipt.  However, there are countless meals on the trip where I still remember quite a bit – from our stops in Napa to those in SF.  So for some reason Range failed to make a lasting impression.  I put forth then that maybe that was the real test: could SF’s one-star restaurant give me something that would stay with me?  So it was not I who failed, rather Range failed.

But this got g and I thinking …  Would any of the restaurants around here be able to compete for a sacred star?  If Range earned one, surely some Philly restaurant could pull one off, right?  Is this such a ridiculous thought?  Those who are critical of the whole star-endowing system claim that it’s not just about the food, but also about the cost, ambience, and service [and politics] … So does that mean that it must be hoidy-toidy like Lacroix? Or could a tiny BYO like Bibou nab one?  Or do you need a taste of something different, like Zahav?  Beats me.  There’s some food for thought.

On our last night there, g and I split a custom-built burger Burger Bar.  Sadly, g did not see Hubert Keller there.  Oh well.  The burger was executed well, but the real shining star was the cookie dough milkshake … oh, and the view of Union Square.  It was a comfy end to a long trip.  We bid adieu to SF.  We’re sure we’ll meet up again in the future … just maybe not at Range.


Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 May 2011 at 11:47pm

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