February Food Notes

A few days ago I did a spur of the moment solo visit to Company when they opened at six and had my first disappointment there.  That gin and bitter lemon cocktail is still delicious, and i had decided i was just gonna wolf their hamburger and dash back home, but i hadn’t looked at the menu all that closely and when the waiter asked whether i wanted the regular hamburger or the deluxe, you can guess my response even though i didn’t know what the difference was.  Turns out the deluxe includes both bacon and cheese, which do not create a carbohydrate problem, but also a small mountain of french fries, which does.  Worse yet, since i didn’t get into them at the end of a too large meal, as i did the last time, they tasted even better than the previous visit and i ate every last one of ’em, including the tiny runts.  I am retracting my previous supposition that the Parmesan truffle oil fries at the Mission Beach Cafe are better, at least until i can get back there and give them another try.  The hamburger was good, and would have been even better if it hadn’t come out medium, rather than the medium rare i’d asked for.  Not that i left a single scrap of it.

The disappointment?  Well, i spotted a new item on the menu, a cranberry bean and kale soup, and since i just love cranberry beans i couldn’t resist.  I should have.  As i readily admit, i’m a bit of a cranberry bean fanatic and go to such great lengths in preparing mine that i should have been nervous about eating somebody else’s.  The stock was good although the soup could have benefited from more kale, but the problem was that the beans were not sufficiently soft for my delicate tongue.  Maybe just me, but if y0u like your beans soft and creamy, don’t order this soup.

 

I rode way out to Children’s Hospital on California Street the other day to check into how come i wasn’t healing as rapidly as i’d hoped from my spectacular December face plant and was reassured that my upper lip would eventually return to normal.  And since even now it doesn’t get in the way of my eating, i decided to celebrate by riding straight east on California and stopping just before Divisadero at B Patisserie.  You can’t go wrong in there  (Well, except for the carb0hydrates), and the Kouign Amann remains perhaps the finest pastry i ever ate, certainly the finest that wasn’t chocolate.  The only real competitor i can think of in San Francisco is the Pomme d’Amour at Knead on 24th Street off Folsom.

The Kouign Amann is a Breton pastry, and like anything Breton, it isn’t pronounced like it looks but rather, in this case, as if it were spelled “Queen Ahmahn”. That said, you don’t eat it for the pronunciation. When i got there this time i discovered that they were offering a chocolate variation on the original and of course i had to try it even though i feared they’d just be sticking a chunk of semisweet chocolate in the middle of the dough the way many bakeries do with croissants and which frankly is not really an improvement. Shoulda realized B. Patisserie would be more imaginative, and sure enough, they squirted some semisweet ganache in there. Yes, good ganache. But did it make the pastry better? Not really. Stick with the original, but for goodness sake, if you can find an excuse to be anywhere near California at Divisadero stop in and try this splendid pastry….and maybe even one of the other fine offerings.  That B in the name stands for Belinda, and she’s a genius.

 

My newest discovery worthy of  mention is Proposition Chicken on Market at Valencia.  Great name, entertaining website, good cole slaw, good chicken, and spectacular art inside.

Proposition Chicken

I had the roasted, and i’ll stop again to try the fried when i’m struck with a great hankering for chicken as i pass by.  But not until then because it somehow seems a bit pricey for what it is.  Faint praise?  We calls ’em as we tastes ’em.

 

A recent disappointment was Dante’s Table on Castro.   It’s in a good location, and i’ve been eating at this site since it was Luisa’s in the early eighties.  I liked it very much when it was Nirvana just four years ago and was sorry Something Happened and it swirled rapidly down to closure.  Nirvana was replaced by the Dancing Pig Barbecue, which i was not sorry to see fail since it had a deadly combination of shabby barbecue and surly service.  But now it’s Dante’s Table, and Jeff and i gave it our first try last week.  The three owners were all there, and they are gracious and charming guys, so it grieves me to write about the food.

The meatballs at the beginning were good, as was the flourless chocolate cake at the end.  But in between?  Well, Jeff gave me a taste of his paella, and it was pretty good, but my entree, a special described on the chalkboard as a chicken saltimbocca, wasn’t.  It was neither a real saltimbocca nor was it good, consisting of a large chicken breast half into which a bit of proscuitto and pesto had been stuffed before the whole thing was cooked until completely dried out.  And our appetizer of a grilled squid salad had good flavor, but the raw red cabbage had been roughly sliced rather than finely mandolinned and thus was really tiresome to chew up.  Besides, the squid was overcooked and pretty hard to chew itself.

This is a warm and friendly and inviting place with a great bar, and they’re working on getting that garden in back into shape, so i want the enterprise to succeed.  I’ll go back in next week with my fingers crossed, hoping i can report that the squid salad and chicken saltimbocca were aberrations.  Meanwhile, if you beat me in there, eat something else.

 

And while i’m whining, i’ll go ahead and mention that this year’s mandarin orange crop has been a great disappointment.  Surely it can’t be something to do with two years of drought and hotter than usual weather year round.  For whatever reason, the ones at the beginning of this season have tasted like the dried up ones at the end of a usual season. None of my vendors has been up to his usual quality this year, with the possible exception of Schletewitz at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market, and i just learned the other day that his well has gone dry.  Gasp.  And global warming’s barely got started.

On the other hand, it’s green garlic season, and somebody’s selling it at all my farmers’ markets, the best being the Herr’s at the Noe Valley Farmers’ Market.  I’ve made a potato salad using lots of it instead of the usual onion.  Can’t get enough of that stuff.

And Glen Tanimoto’s kiwi fruit are better than ever.  Wednesdays and Sundays at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market and Saturdays at the Alemany Farmers’ Market.  Let us be grateful for what we have.

 

And that said, what i have no longer includes a memory, as i have forgot the name/artist behind this famous sculpture on Market Street.  Help me, somebody.

 famous sculpture

 

 

 

 

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