Solidarity Luncheon

Today i decided i’d treat myself to lunch at One Market, one of San Francisco’s Michelin-starred restaurants, albeit only one star.  Hadn’t eaten here since Sybil and i met here for lunch about four years ago, and the only time before that had been when i took my cousin April here for dinner back in the nineties.

A couple of blocks before the restaurant i rolled past the Federal Reserve Bank, now guarded by a swarm of cops and protected by an intricately interwoven set of metal barricades against the possibility that the sight of an Occupier out front might offend one of the banksters who’ve looted our country and then battened on taxpayer bailouts when their Ponzi scheme collapsed.

The restaurant is a lovely space, warm and comfortable with enormous windows opening onto the Ferry Building and the bocce courts of Justin Herman Plaza.  The seating is very comfortable, and the tables are set with heavy white napery and handsome place settings.  When you sit down, they bring you a ramekin of soft butter alongside a plate of hot epi bread wrapped in a napkin, and i ordered a latte to sip while i perused the menu.

There’s a prix-fixe lunch for $25 that allows you several choices of an appetizer or soup and an entree, and i chose the appetizer of Pig’s Head Terrine with Boudin Noir on a bed of lightly vinaigretted baby arugula.  The terrine is garnished with translucently thin slices of pickled radish and the plate is dotted with dabs of a good Dijon.  Scrumptious.

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My entree is good grilled yellowtail with Romanesco broccoli as delicious as it is gorgeous, sauced with a reduced port emulsion and a yellow squash puree.  A plate of toasted baguette slices on the side.  No trace of any of it remains.

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For another four dollars, you are offered your choice of a half-dozen desserts, and i wanted five of them but settled on the Valrhona pudding with almond streusel.  I don’t think i ever ate a better chocolate pudding, and i’m quite certain that i never made a better one.

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I’m actually here because in many cities businesses have complained that nearby Occupy encampments have impacted them negatively, and i wanted to do my part to throw some custom to One Market because of the nearby encampment, which you can look out the window and see across the street.  The great majority of tables were occupied when i was there today, so the lunch business here cannot be down all that much although it could well be down more at night.  I remind myself, though, that for political reasons the business community would say that the Occupy folks had hurt business even if business had improved.

So afterwards i unchained the Segway and rolled over to the encampment, where i talked with a couple of the young women.  The first one told me that an increasingly pressing issue for them was that they were attracting more and more hard core homeless and street people who not only had little interest in financial regulation and income disparity, the political issues that drive the Occupy movement, but worse yet they created a host of internal problems and were absolutely horrible for the movement’s image.  When i pointed out that certainly the homeless were serious problem faced by the nation, she countered with the unassailable point that yes, they’re a problem, but they’re a minuscule problem compared to the numbers of the unemployed, many of whom will soon be swelling the ranks of the homeless unless something can be done.

I talked to the other young woman, who mainly ran the information booth, about my desire to participate in a march or rally but tended not to know about them well enough in advance.  Yes, she agreed, it’s a  problem, especially with an organization so loosely structured and dependent entirely on volunteers.  She says she could update the occupysf.com website since she’s pretty much at the nerve center, but alas the Information Booth does not yet have a laptop.  Anybody around SF have a working one that they’ve obsoleted and want to donate?

Here’s the camp this morning:

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I had planned to make this one funny, but something happened.

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