Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chapter 26: In which Fosco's culinary adventures become ridiculous.

JennyT has the coolest job. As a very important executive in a company that imports bronze Buddhas from Thailand, she frequently gets to visit the SF Bay area. You may recall her previous visits in the last few months, chronicled heah and heah. And remember that time she and her husband, the Swedish Meatball, visited Santa Cruz? Yeah, me too. That was fun.

Last week, she was back! And we spent a drizzly afternoon eating our way across San Francisco. I've mentioned before that JennyT and I both consider eating to be the primary touristic activity, but this time we took it to an absurd level.

We began at Fosco's new favorite place in the whole universe (even more than The Watergarden!): the Ferry Building. This place is a foodie's absolute DREAM! No wonder Rachael Ray began her San Francisco episode of "Tasty Travels" there. JennyT and I started with lunch at retro/hipster burger joint Taylor's Automatic Refresher (and, may I add, James Beard award winner!). I enjoyed my Texas Blue Ring burger (bleu cheese, bacon, bbq sauce, topped with an onion ring) and garlic-parsley fries. I wish my cell took better pix, because those fries were smackin'.

We then browsed through the specialty shops in the Ferry Building Marketplace. However, we kept running afoul of a twenty-person production crew in teal polo-shirts filming an episode of some show called "Take Home Chef." As far as I can tell from my 20 second perusal of the website, it appears to be some sort of cooking show with a chef/gigolo. It all looked a bit dodgy to us in person: the "chef" was wearing pancake makeup and appeared to be a graduate of Handsome Boy Modeling School. And whenever we tried to shop at a store, the crew would show up and push us out of the way. It was so not cool. Who would have thought that you need a twenty-person crew to film a show that I've never heard of?

Eventually, Johnny Fancypants and his cameras left and we were able to get down to serious dessert-hunting. We stopped at Miette for pastries. I had a delicious chocolate cupcake capped by a perfect Taj Mahal dome of marshmallow cream. JennyT enjoyed a dark chocolate tartlette. So buttery was that crust!

Of course, preparations had to be made for future desserts, and Fosco found himself enthralled by the creations of boutique chocolatier Michael Recchiuti. At $50/pound, Fosco was unable to buy the five pounds that he wanted. However, he still managed to buy at least one of almost every assorted chocolate (which he consumed later that evening while in his pajamas). His favorites:

  • Bergamot Tea
  • Cardamom Nougat
  • Tarragon Grapefruit
  • Honeycomb Malt
and, although it was a little strange, Fosco is still a bit haunted by the Star Anise and Pink Peppercorn chocolate.

After leaving the Ferry Building, we realized that it was time for a second dessert and so we headed over to SoMa to enjoy the brilliance of Japanese creampuffs at Beard Papa. I had never had a Beard Papa cream puff, but nothing says delicious like beards... Have you seen this Beard Papa guy? Clearly, this is a gentleman who enjoys cream puffs.

Will it surprise you that they are delicious? They are, although the best thing about the whole experience may be the whiff of fresh creampuff that greets you at the door.

Although they are a franchise, it seems that you're out-of-luck unless you live in the Northeast, California, or Hawaii. Or Japan.

Next, JennyT and I did our only non-food-related activity for the day: we paid our respects at the Tower Records Wake/Going-Out-of-Business Sale (at the oldest Tower Records in San Francisco--since 1968). On the day we went, the CDs were 70% off. The DVDs were even cheaper. I bought that Radiohead documentary and a bunch of emo-ish CDs (how is it that they were still on the shelves? Oh yeah, everyone but me hates emo.) The nearby "Classical Annex" was already shuttered--classical fans had cleaned it out weeks ago. I think JennyT bought some store fixtures. This was a particularly poignant activity for me, as I spent probably thousands of dollars as a college student at the Tower Records in Harvard Square. Probably half of my classical CD's are from that store. Alas.

Shopping made us hungry. And so, we headed for dinner at hole-in-the-wall hipster hangout Emmy's Spaghetti Shack in the Mission District. It's really pretty brilliant, actually. The spaghetti with meatballs is killer--and I mean that. Spaghetti is not an easy dish to make interesting/memorable at a restaurant, but Emmy's does it exceptionally well. I also enjoyed a delightful Lime Basil Mandarin Martini (pictured at right, a la John Mackey): Ketel One, Lime Juice, Basil Simple Syrup and Orange Water. Yum! The one drawback with this place was that JennyT and I were seated between two tables of foul-smelling bohemians (you know, like the characters is Rent). I have written at length about the problems I have with the Left's lack of hygiene, but this was just gross.

And just think: if I hadn't had to rush back to Santa Cruz for a social engagement, JennyT and I might have been able to have Second Dinner together as well!

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