low-key dinner-during-daylight with family and a few friends.
various pasta including this green garlic one (and an amazing asparagus ravioli):
grilled sardines with perfect asparagus and peas:
desserts including a pea leaf panna cotta(!)
Cross-posting from a tour of San Francisco dumpling shops by bike (highlights: pork+chive dumplings with orange curry sauce from Kingdom of Dumpling, and pan-fried pork buns from Dumpling Kitchen).
After a month with almost no starch, the pasta tasting at flour + water seemed appropriate.
A friend and I were there for a long, leisurely dinner past 1AM, as the staff were eating post-shift meals and generously not kicking us out.
And it was one of the best pasta tastings I’ve had there. Their classic agnolotti dal plin was as good as I remembered, the fava radiatore with quail was soft, delicious, and different with every bite (with a bit of nice acidity from something?), and the combination of lamb, cocoa, and beets really worked. They even humored our hungry eyes with bread to mop up leftover sauce.
I filled in at the last minute for a space in an Ad Hoc brunch reservation with friends (this seems to be a running theme for me and Yountville restaurants).
It’s a fixed you-don’t-know-what-it-will-be-ahead-of-time menu, and I really lucked out– it hit all sorts of favorite ingredients for me (anise, cured fish, egg yolk, spicy greens, pickles, etc).
We started with bagels with good salmon cured with fennel/Pernod(? — I think that’s what she said), fried capers, and a beet and spicy watercress salad. Unfortunately, the bagels were mediocre– a texture more like a dense bread, not chewy or lactic-acid-fermentation flavorful the way a bagel should be. But as vehicles for the salmon and cheese they were fine.
Beef hash- delightfully tender large chunks of beef (not small-overly-fatty-bits, the way I think beef in hash often is), soft potatoes, rich egg yolk.
We also tried the sweet potato pancakes (good but not great), and a very good bloody mary with olives and pickled pepper.
Overall, it was a delicious brunch, though not inexpensive. As an extra bonus, it was beautiful sunny day to be driving and walking around in Napa Valley.
After working late, I dropped by flour + water on my way home to see if there was a seat at the bar, sat down within 15 minutes, and had one of the better meals I’ve had there:
roasted duck breast with chestnut, roasted squash, walnut & pumpkin seed
I do like the time of year when chestnuts make an appearance in food. And this dish was phenomenal– juicy, tender duck with a slightly sweet chestnut puree and a lot of mellow, well-blended supporting flavors.
black pepper tagliarini with tesa, broccoli di ciccio & soft cooked egg
This was one of my favorite pasta experiences here, up with the carrot caramelle and radiatore with whey-braised hen.
The pasta was just so tender and perfectly cooked, the egg was exceptional (and mixing it in distributed rich, dark yellow, runny yolk over each strand of pasta), and the tesa (cured pork belly) was intense, like a concentrated less-salty bacon, but used in moderation and didn’t overpower the pasta.
Quite a dinner.
And while I rarely have anything to say about wine, the De Forville Barbaresco, Vigna Loreto 2008, Piemonte was also one of my favorites in quite a while– a taste almost like swimming in a gravel-lined, fresh mountain stream– in a good way (I think the oenophile-approved adjective is “mineraly”).
Fantastic thin-crust pizza. The toppings and flavor on the Bianca (“onion crema, shaved garlic, preserved lemon, aged provolone & wild arugula”) get an A+, probably the best Bianca I’ve ever had. I went into an almost “truffle-style coma” from the flavor combination of cheese, olive oil, and preserved lemon.
The Amatriciana (“tomato, pancetta, chilies, pecorino, oregano & an egg”) was also quite good, though not as amazing.
The crusts were thin, floppy, a bit less char and crunch than I like but still excellent. Ragazza has climbed into my pantheon of good pizza with good ingredients, along with Pizzaiolo, Boot & Shoe Service, and Una Pizza Napoletana.
Another quick and grainy cell-phone photo:
I have a new favorite place to get Dim Sum in the bay area, edging out my previous favorite (East Ocean Seafood in Alameda): the Hong Kong Lounge, in San Francisco at Geary and 18th Ave.
There were about 60 people in line, but a friend got there an hour early to put our names in:
The food was remarkably delicious and not heavy. We filled up this table with dishes three times over the two hours we were eating there:
I’ll especially praise the addictive taro cakes (rice flour, taro, and bits of pork, soft on the inside and slightly crunchy on the outside), the chive dumplings, another fried gyoza-like pork dumpling (not sure exactly what it was), a mushroom dumpling with a translucent wrapper (wheat starch without the gluten?), and the best dessert custard bun I’ve ever had. The chili sauce was also excellent, and many people loved the chicken wings, but I thought they were only “quite good” — after having had the San Tung dry-fried chicken wings it’s hard to give any other wings the time of day.
Here’s the dim sum equivalent of the obnoxious rich celebrities who post photos of their $50k caviar-and-champagne bar tabs online: 51 dim sum plates split between 13 serious eaters…
Among other food adventures last weekend, I went to Noisette, a mix of Noisepop-curated bands (I really enjoyed the new-to-me Pillowfight with Dan the Automator, Kid Koala, and Emily Wells… but I digress from food), Speakeasy beers, and delicious small plates by nine local restaurants.
One of my favorites was the rabbit sausage with liver and peaches on a homemade cracker, by flour+water. I’m also a sucker for edible nasturtium flowers.
And the most memorable was (no photo) the pork shoulder with mustard sauce by Namu. I was surprised, as I didn’t really like Namu when I ate there once before (granted, I ate there as a consolation prize, after not being able to get in to my favorite sushi place a few blocks away), so this must have been really good to knock down my preconceptions. Now I have to go check out their new space in the Mission.
Gratuitously, there was also a hog butchering demo with a mirror for multi-angle viewing:
A fine overcast day to spend the entire afternoon eating, drinking, and listening to music.
(a post without a photo of food?!)
A link from my father: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/06/opinion/terms-of-service-in-new-york-restaurants.html