The Romantics of San Francisco

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. It brings out certain emotions in all of us. For those that are single, there are feelings that may be a little painful or sad but today I saw a man that took being single on Valentine’s Day and made it into his own!

I saw him from across the street, standing on the corner. Everyone that passed by him glanced at his sign. At first, all I could read on the bright pink sign was “Just Say Hi!” so I did. I told him I had a Valentine and he said that was good. He explained that starting with Halloween, a five holiday season began that was not so pleasant for single people. At Thanksgiving all the family asks when are they going to meet someone. Christmas, more of the same. New Year. Finally, Valentines Day is the last holiday. He was very good about and said he was a very romantic person and to make sure I really made my Valentine feel special. Good advice! We went our separate ways but then I thought he would make a good subject for a photo!

Valentine Romantic

He called himself the Hopeless Romantic.

Valentine Romantic 2

There were more romantics along the way. A long line formed at one of the flower shops along Montgomery Street. A man pushing a cart down the street remarked jokingly to the man with a pink sign, “There’s a line of men that can’t go home until they get some flowers.”

The flower line

I walked past a woman with hair the color of a Valentine. I almost didn’t stop, but I’m so glad I did. I told her I loved her hair color and would she mind if I took her picture. She was so happy to oblige!

Valentine Red Hair

Down the street and around the corner was another flower shop with a queue.

The flower line

An amazing day, in an amazing city, filled with amazing people. Making every life meaningful.

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Campton Place – Dine About Town

Our next Michelin Guide location was Campton Place. The Michelin Guide rates Campton Place with one star and it was well worth the visit!

The gracious lobby is decorated with beautiful orchids.
Campton Place Orchids

After being seated in the dining area, I noticed the lovely sculpted calla lilly light. It was so beautiful and provided such a lovely glow to the room.
Sculpted Calla Lilly Light

The prix fixe menu for the Dine About Town event offered a two course menu for $18.95 or three course menu for $25.95. We all decided on the three course menu.

Campton Place Lunch Menu

Maria and Irise selected the Winter Salad with goat cheese, almonds and olives with a Meyer lemon dressing. The salad was fresh and beautiful and this image does not do it justice.

Winter Salad

The greens were crisp and the salad was filled with thinly sliced carrots, radishes, fennel, and cucumber. The tomatoes were sliced and seeded. The dressing was refreshing and slightly tart.

Sandra and I ordered the Sunchoke Veloute with heirloom grapes, hazelnuts and beech mushrooms. Traditionally, a Veloute is a creamy sauce, but in this case, it was a creamy soup. The bowl was brought to the table with a delicious mound of mushrooms and raisins in the middle. The soup was poured, tableside, from a small pitcher around the mushroom and raisin mixture.  Its texture was smooth and creamy. The tiny beech mushrooms are best described as cute! So tiny, like the ones you see in a fairy story.

Sunchoke Veloute

For the second course Maria and Irise ordered the Slow Roasted Pacific Bass with Cauliflower, Raisins, and Cilantro. The cauliflower was served at least three ways; raw, roasted and pureed. The sauce served with the cauliflower had a mild curry taste that was an unexpected delight on the tongue. Thinly sliced radishes were placed atop the cauliflower and bass. The fish was moist, with a crisp top.

Slow Roasted Pacific Bass

Sandra and I ordered the Braised Beef Short Rib served with Black Truffle Potatoes and Kale. The short rib was so tender you could cut it with a fork. It was so delicious paired with the black truffle potatoes. The texture of the potatoes were smooth, like cream!! Two The trumpet mushrooms were on the plate with a single mushroom perfectly placed on the top. The mushrooms provided an earthy flavor to the dish. The kale was finely chopped but had plenty of texture – and flavor. The Braised Beef Short Rim  is currently my favorite entree in the last three Michelin restaurants we’ve enjoyed so far.

Braised Beef Short Rib

Last, but definitely not least, was the Citrus Panna Cotta! Panna Cotta is a dessert made with milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and gelatin. The citrus, comprised of pink grapefruit, blood orange, mandarin, and orange was perfectly sectioned, juicy and sweet. Placed on top of the panna cotta was a sprig of mint and a graham cracker garnish. The panna cotta was so smooth and fabulous. Maria said it was better than wine!

Citrus Panna Cotta

Delicious Panna Cotta

We are all looking forward to our next time at Campton Place and we will most assuredly be back!

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Lunch with the Michelin Guide – Michael Mina

Last year my co-worker Sandra and I decided to make a goal of eating at all the restaurants in the Belden Alley in San Francisco. We did it! It was a fantastic goal, but once we were done, what else could we do? We thought for a long time and then, one day it occurred to me! Lunch with the Michelin Guide! There is a special section of the Guide for San Francisco, specifically the Financial District which is where we work. Our plan is to go to a different restaurant once a month near our pay day and see what happens. For our inaugural outing, we opted for Michael Mina. Michael Mina has one star in the Michelin Guide and has a wonderful reputation for food excellence and impeccable service. A group of six of us went, which is almost too many, but we ordered almost the entire menu.

Butter served in a hand thrown ramekin was the first to arrive at the table, followed by some delicious sourdough bread, served warm.

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Our first starter of three was Michael’s Classic Ahi Tuna Tartare. Habanero infused sesame oil, pine nuts, and quail egg yolk. It is prepared table side and is served with toast points. It was sublime! The quail egg provided a creamy texture to the tuna along with the slightly spicy oil and crunch of the pine nuts was a great combination in your mouth.

Michael's Classic Ahi Tuna Tartare

We also ordered the Warm Kale Salad with baby beets, turnips, and marcona almonds.

Warm Kale Salad

The third starter was the Squab Leg Confit with creamy polenta, shaved radish, and chickweed. You would think a leg of squab would not, could not be distributed among six people but a total of 3 legs were served on the plate. The confit melted in your mouth. Crisp skin on the outside, tender, fall-off-the-bone meat on the inside. Rich flavors coupled with the creamy polenta was close-your-eyes delicious. In spite of a few little tendons, this dish disappeared quickly.

Squab Leg Confit

The fourth starter was the Morro Bay Abalone with matsutake mushroom puree, apple, and curry oil. The abalone was tiny, about the size of a mandarin orange. It was chewy and to be truthful, it was difficult to get a really good taste since it was divided six ways.

Morro Bay Abalone

Lastly, for the appetizers, was the Squash Tortelloni with brussels sprouts, chanterelle mushrooms, and pomegranate. These were cooked perfectly with the seeds in the pomegranate providing a nice little explosion of flavor and crunch with each bite. It was a beautiful mingling of creamy and tart.

Squash Tortelloni

For the entrees, we went wild! Out of seven on the menu we ordered 5 plus the special.

The first entrée was the Pan Seared Dorade with a baby leek sauce, Brussels sprouts, and pickled carrot relish. The fish had a very crispy skin and flaked nicely when placed on the fork.

Pan Seared Dorade

The prawn and mussel pasta was delicately flavored with saffron. The mussels and prawns were cooked to perfection, and the pasta was al dente.

Prawn and Mussel Pasta

The most disappointing dish was the Vegetable Risotto, due to the hair in the dish and the fact it was cooked improperly. The rice was still crunchy. :-( I’m sorry to say the only photo I have is terrible.

Vegetable Risotto

At the end of our meal, Executive Chef Ron Siegel came out and was kind enough to take a photo with us.

Michael Mina Executive Chef Ron Siegel

In spite of the hair in the risotto, we all enjoyed our lunch at Michael Mina’s

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Lunch With the Michelin Guide – Brasserie S & P

Lunch with the Michelin Guide went to Brasserie S & P.

Originally, we were going to go to Bocadillos. I had called Bocadillos a day ahead and told them I would like a reservation, but was told they only take reservations at dinner. So I told them we would be there the following day at 11:30 if that was a good time. The woman on the phone said that was a good time, but get there early because they fill up quickly. We arrived at 11:30 only to find a note taped to the door stating they were closed for a private party! You would think they would have said something about that over the phone the previous day. Strike 1 for Bocadillos! One of our group wanted to cross them off the list for that because we had to walk a distance in the cold. We’ll see if we make it back there… Fortunately, I had the Michelin guide with me so we skipped to the next restaurant that was close by.

Brasserie S & P is located inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The Executive Chef is Adam Mali. When we arrived, the place was pretty empty and we asked John Burke, the Brasserie S&P Maitre’d if we could be seated. Reservations are recommended, but John was happy to accommodate us.

Mandarin Oriental Exterior Mandarin Oriental

The menu was quite nice with something for everyone. The Michelin guide says to try the clam chowder (we didn’t try it) as well as the lamb sliders and Vietnamese pork burger. The sliders and pork burger are only available on the dinner menu.

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Our server recommended the House Made Hot Apple Cider. Since it was a very cold day we each decided to try it. Served with a large stick of cinnamon and fresh apple slice, it was a big hit.

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Some very delicious hot bread was brought out with butter and olive oil. It was a sourdough bread made with potato flour from Petaluma. Someone mentioned gluten free, but I’m sure there was some flour in the bread. There were some delicious herbs on top with large flecks of salt. The crust was crisp and the bread had a nice, chewy texture.

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We ordered two appetizers to share. Roasted Baby Beets with baby arugula, fennel, Bellwether Pepato, a sheep milk cheese and Banyuls vinaigrette, an aged vinegar made with sweet wine from the Grenache grape and produced in Banyuls-sur-mer in southern France. The beets were sweet and had a good, firm texture, and were complemented by the cheese and Banyuls vinegar.

Roasted Baby Beets Salad

Our second appetizer was Liberty Farms Duck Liver pate. It is one of the chefs signature dishes and absolutely delicious. Served with red onion marmalade and Della Fattora Levain. We had an issue with  some of the bread as it was badly burned. The pate was the kind that after it touches your tongue, you just sit back and close your eyes, savoring all the flavors. The onion, the bread, the pate – all of it was just so smooth and rich. Savory. Heaven.

Liberty Farms Duck Liver Pate

For the entree, I ordered the Mary’s Chicken Paillard with anchovy garlic crust, Marcona almond pesto and Blue Lake green bean salad. There were also some delicious roasted vegetables on the side. Everyone said this was the best and tastiest entree. The chicken was tender, the crust was a blend of crispiness, crunch, and mild garlic. The vegetables were roasted to perfection.

Mary's Chicken Paillard

Sandra and Maria ordered the Grilled Local Albacore Tuna with Romesco sauce and roasted cauliflower. It is served rare, and Maria requested slightly less than rare. Sandra’s arrived over-done, and dry, but Maria’s was cooked perfectly. The sauce was a delicious paring with the moist tuna.

Grilled Local Albacore Tuna

Irise ordered the Bento Box – Napa cabbage slaw with miso vinaigrette, grilled soy glazed coho salmon, pickled vegetables, ginger brown rice with furikake (a Japanese condiment made with seaweed), and a TCHO Brownie and fruit.

Bento Box

The sauce on the salmon was sweet and a bit thick. The slaw was fresh, but the dressing was a little hard to detect. Irise enjoyed the pickled vegetables, which included a slice of persimmon. Since the brownie came with four pieces, we each had a small piece, which was the perfect ending to our lunch.

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August 2013 Full Moon – Moonrise

The full moon rose just beyond the hills near our home. This was to be a blue moon – not the second full moon in a month, but rather the 4th full moon of the quarter. I think.

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August 19 – National Soft Ice Cream Day

Soft Serve Ice Cream

Today is National Soft Ice Cream Day. When I think of soft ice cream, I think of Fosters Freeze. Their soft ice cream is so creamy and smooth. Dairy Queen was the first to create soft ice cream, but Fosters Freeze was the first in California.

This lovely evening we enjoyed a hamburger, fried zucchini, and then a cone.

It’s a wonderful way to celebrate a very special food day.

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Exterior of the Quadriporticus in Pompeii Italy

Before we left for our vacation, I felt as though I should focus on arches, specifically those with cornerstones. Jesus is“‘the stone the builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Acts 4:11

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