Thursday, October 2, 2008

Meal of the Month: September

I'm sorry September. It really wasn't much of a contest this month--I don't even know why I kept a record of the meals I had. On the 3rd day of the month, I had my meal of the month. And the second we finished, I knew that was the case. I think we have a new record on our hands.

So first--there were many meals this month. I went to some of my favorite spots (NOPA, Beretta, SPQR); also seemed to have a lot of home-cooked meals (thanks to friends like Rob, Bryan and Roby, Michelle, Matt--and Mama Maureen!); hit up some of my neighborhood spots (Frascati, Amelie and Street), and checked out some new/newish places (Chez Papa at Mint Plaza, Urban Tavern, Nettie's Crabshack and the new Pizzeria Delfina). All in all, another yummy month!

Now, onto the winning meal!

A friend of mine, Marshall, was in town from New York. He's a mixologist out there, a cocktail and spirits expert- and somewhat of a foodie himself. While he and his girlfriend Samantha were out here for a vacation, he gathered up all of his random San Fran friends for one fine meal.

Turns out it really is a small world. And the SF restaurant biz is an even smaller world. Finding out there were multiple connections our random group of eight gathered. We decided to eat at Boulevard-where our friend Ravi is a chef. As we piled into the restaurant, it was fun to see everyone again, and to make some new friends too. Our group consisted of three 'non-industry' friends (but major foodies!), a server, a mixologist (bartender, whatever!), two chefs, and me!

After trying to order everything on the menu, we changed our minds. Return the menus. Leave it all in the hands of the chef. He'll know best. We never looked back.

We started out with an amuse, then moved onto a special chef's plate with a crispy Maryland soft shell crab (with shiitake mushrooms, pickled cucumber and a ginger miso mayo), ahi tuna tartare (with a sesame rice cracker, jalapeno and ginger, avocado, miso eggplant). The crab was one of my favorites of the night!

We moved onto Monterey Red Abalone (served with a fried green tomato!), and then onto the fresh heirloom tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad.

There was a mid course of a fresh fish wrapped in bacon (to be honest, I was focused on the bacon!), then another highlight of the night. A scallop, served side by side with pork belly. Perfect. So delicious. We finished off our savory experience with crispy veal sweetbreads and a perfectly poached egg. We all exclaimed like little children as we pierced it. It was gorgeous.

It was one of those meals when ever course was a surprise. And every course was executed perfectly. We were all full, although not stuffed.

Good thing. Because that's when the cheese course hit. Perfect timing. Great cheese, yummy figs, and oh! My madrona almonds! There was also this incredible white honey comb. Sarah and I enjoyed that the most I think!

And the best part of our dessert course? Hmm. Let's see. The bourbon ice cream? The mini cupcake? Oh no. I think it was the ice cream cake!!

The best part? When eating with foodies and so many people, you're able to try a lot of wines. We each had the perfect little taste, and had the perfect pair with each course. We had many great wines, but my personal favorite? The Scherrer pinot noir from Russian River.

Other highlights? Hearing chef Evan make fun of me snapping photos as each course came out. According to him he doesn't like taking photos of the food. He likes to remember them in his head. The smell. The taste. Sorry Evan. I disagree. Seeing photos of the food only helps me remember all of those things, and brings me back to that exact spot. Not sure I'll get away with it when I'm eating in his restaurant, but oh well. We'll cross that bridge when we get there!

And on the topic of photos, Marshall PROMISED me the photos he took--with his real camera. But this post couldn't wait any longer, so unfortunately you'll just have to look at the photos I took with my camera phone.

One member of our group had a food allergy. And as a truly amazing chef, Ravi sent out slightly different versions of all of our dishes-most even looking the same. Samantha was a happy gal. Poor thing. Life without dairy and nitrates. Hmm, wonder if this is a good time to share my Food Sins posting with her? (Although, I did come to the conclusion-food allergy, that's one thing. You didn't choose it, it chose you. But choosing to be a vegetarian, or worse yet, a vegan? I don't think so!)

Something fun from the night? Our server for the night, was actually from the same town in Ohio Marshall's from, and they know each other! Nuts! (See here for my thoughts on Ohio.)

Another highlight of the night was having Ravi come out and sit, drink wine, and talk with us.

And last but not least? You can't get a group like this together without talking about rumors in the industry. Any interesting story came out about the pardon pepper and our very own friend Chef Chris here for some background info.

As if that experience alone wasn't enough, we went out afterwards. (You knew we would, right?) We made an appearance at Cantina, one of my favorite SF bars, and it was a who's who of the SF mixology scene. From Duggan to Jacques, to Ryan to Todd...I think Marshall was in heaven.

The perfect end to a perfect evening. The best news of all? Marshall and Samantha are coming back for another visit soon! You can bet we'll have another great experience!

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