Friday, March 20, 2009

Lunch with David

"Foodie Friday" is the name of the game today.

Last weekend, Fosco's well-connected and entertaining college roommate David was in town for a brief spring vacation. David and I were able to have a lazy lunch on Friday at San Francisco culinary fixture, The Slanted Door. As you may recall, Fosco is a fan of Charles Phan's local/organic Vietnamese; however, dining at the flagship (as opposed to one of the much cheaper Out the Door takeout spots) is a treat that Fosco generally reserves for special occasions (like his birthday last year, when Oz took him to Slanted Door for dinner).

Slanted Door is an excellent place to take an out-of-town guest. The dining room (as seen above) may be understated and casual, but the real attraction is the floor-to-ceiling views of SF Bay, the Bay Bridge, and Yerba Buena Island (view at right). There is probably no better restaurant view in the city, especially on a sunny day. Add an appealingly casual waitstaff (t-shirted with many tats and pierces), and you have a laid back atmosphere where you can pay attention to the important things in life: visual and gustatory pleasure.

At midday, neither David nor Fosco felt like a cocktail. However, David was intrigued by the appearance of the adjective "biodynamic" attached to the (non-alcoholic) Elderflower spritzer on the beverage menu. Our waiter was only too happy to explain that "biodynamic" refers to a specific organic agricultural method developed in the nineteenth century by Rudolf Steiner. As the waiter explained, it involves treating the farm like a completely closed system. Or something like that. The waiter also noted that "biodynamic" has "metaphysical and astrological connotations," but (thankfully) he declined to elaborate. An organic spritzer with astrological/metaphysical properties? Welcome to San Francisco, David! Actually, both David and I ordered the Elderflower spritzer and it was quite enjoyable (I tasted citrus, David tasted lychee).

Ever since Fosco's birthday dinner with Oz last summer, Fosco has been obsessed with Slanted Door's yellowtail sashimi. It is absolutely exquisite. It comes topped with crispy shallots (like high-end french-fried onions) and Thai basil. I can say without exaggeration that it is a true metaphysical and astrological experience. So of course David and I ordered it. Isn't it gorgeous?

I could eat it once a day. At least.

Slanted Door is family-style and the rest of our meal was a bricolage of yummy Vietnamese specialties, including

  • honey-hoisin pork shortribs (accompanied by extremely hot towels for washing your fingers after)
  • Fosco's favorite green papaya salad (which he's discussed before)
  • the shaking beef--made with tender filet mignon
  • sadly, some very forgettable noodles--why aren't the noodles at Slanted Door better?
Other than the shaking beef, Fosco thinks the best strategy at Slanted Door is, as recommended by No Salad As A Meal, an entire meal of appetizers. Damn, those honey-hoisin ribs were good.

Because it was a special occasion, desserts were ordered. We had beignets with a cinnamon sabayon (are doughnuts ever bad?) and the intriguing "black cardamom tapioca, kumquat geleé, black cardamom pudding and tapioca." Fosco is a big fan of cardamom (even for dessert) and this pudding did not disappoint. It was surprisingly elegant, actually.

After lunch, because Slanted Door is in the gourmet mecca of the Ferry Building (seen above), Fosco and David dropped by Michael Recchiuti for some boutique chocolates. Fosco's loves Recchiuti's rose caramels and bergamot chocolates. Mmmmmmm...

As we left the Ferry Building, the lunchtime line for high-end burger palace Taylor's Automatic Refresher was getting a bit out of hand:

Alas, we had no room for garlic fries.

[Several of these photos (guess which?) were taken by David himself.]

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