A Couple of Tarts

We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf. ~ Epicurus

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Golden State

It's hard to believe, but we made it to California. After many miles (3400 to be almost exact) we rolled up in Petrolia, California. You might be wondering where this is, even if you have lived in CA all your life. It is pretty much far away from any kind of city or town (Eureka being the closest) but right smack dab in the middle of amazingly beautiful countryside. A friend of RFC's lives there and we took a very windy road to spend two days with her. We went for a bike ride by the ocean and spent a day by the river, swimming in a real swimming hole! Because the town of Petrolia only has one little general store that closes at 5 pm, cooking at home was the plan for each day. RFC's friend was a wonderful hostess and prepared fabulous spreads at meal time. Our first morning, we feasted on banana stuffed pancakes laced with local currant jam eaten out on her back pork amid the butterflies and hummingbirds. She also made kickass salsa. At night we threw salmon on the grill and made our own eel sushi. I even got to pitch in and put together a crisp using cherries and local blueberries. We had such an amazing time that it was very hard to leave. The only thing that made it okay was that the next stop was San Francisco!

This has been RFC's first trip to the Bay Area, so I have been having fun taking him to all my favorite places, On the way down Highway 1, we stopped for lunch at the North Coast Brewing Company. My dad had recommended the beer battered fish and chips and he was right on. The coating was just enough to make it feel decadant but didn't overwhelm the fish and the fries were the perfect crispy consistancy. Their kobe burger was also great, especially when paired with their garlic fries. The first morning in San Francisco, we met one of my old baking buddies at Tartine Bakery in the Mission. So many things to try and after discussing with my friend what we recipes we had tried from their cookbook, I settled on a slice of their olive loaf and a straight-up croissant. They were both fantastic. The olive bread was loaded with olives (of course) and bits of ham. It was almost custardy inside. RFC ordered one of their croque monsieurs. Now that was rich! They had just come out of the oven and were overflowing with gooey cheese. I wanted to get some sweet things, but we were so full (and I felt a bit gluttonous) that we passed and took a walk to Dolores Park. We did make one little stop at the Bi-Rite ice cream shop. The counterperson was kind enough to give us tastes of a number of ice creams. I don't know if I will be able to go back this trip, but if not it is going to move to the top of my list.

Of course RFC had to have the SF taqueria experience, so I took him to my favorite: El Torro. My brother and I talked him into getting a burrito. He thought it was ridiculous...rediculouly good. We stuck with more low key tacos. I know that some people prefer Pancho Villa and they are owned by the same people, but I like the intimacy of El Torro. Plus it is the scene of one of the craziest things I have ever seen happen in SF involving shouting and a flying plate of food. And obviously I love the food.

One highlight has been dinner at Firefly Restaurant in Noe Valley. There is a soft spot in my heart for it and I haven't been there since I moved away four years ago. It was a treat to go back. The style of food has remained the same...their logo used to be home cooking with no ethnic boundaries. We had grilled romano beans with truffle oil, a tempura tuna roll, and entrees that included a veggie tagine, salmon with pesto potatoes, and sea bass with avocado and quinoa. Desserts are as good as ever. Simple and homey and filled with flavor. Creme brulee is no longer on the menu and neither is a flourless chocolate cake (probably for the best and the sanity of the pastry chef) and we enjoyed an apricot turnover and a chocolate truffle tart.

One more treat was to have afternoon cocktails at the Orbit Room. Drinking a mojito, the breeze blowing through the window, sitting with people I love...now that's pretty close to perfection.

More soon!
NYC Tart (from the Left Coast)


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