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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A lovely Zuni lunch and a honey of a find at Yum

I had a lovely lunch today at Zuni—it reminded me how much I like lunching there. I was having one of those days when I simply couldn't really focus and get anything done so I just gave up and took the afternoon off. I ended up at Zuni and got a nice table by the window. It was a perfect San Francisco afternoon, Zuni's bar area where I sat was airy, drenched with light and just crowded enough to not feel lonely but sparse enough to still be able to pretend you're in your own space.

I decided on some oysters, a starter of house-cured anchovies, and the famous Caesar's salad. I had an Olympia from Washington, and Kumamoto and flat oyster from Hog Island. They are all great but the Hog Island flat oyster was particularly fabulous. Zuni remains the best place to have oysters in town in my opinion, unless you're willing to crack them open on your own (which I'm not particularly fond of doing), in which case the Hog Island stand at the farmer's market would be.

The house cured anchovies were great--briny and sweet, the perfect middle ground between the dark oil-packed anchovies and the vinegary Spanish cured anchovies. The anchovies were served with Manchego cheese, nicoise olives and thinly sliced pieces of celery, all doused in olive oil and sprinkled with cracked black pepper. Each bite of the briny anchovy with a bit of the salty and creamy cheese and fresh crunch of the celery made for a wonderful flavor and texture combination.

Then the salad arrived. What can I say about the salad? I know a lot of people thought it was overrated, but I've always loved it. It definitely is the perfect ceasar's salad in my opinion, freshly done, ample anchovies, and oh, simply perfect. I am biased, what can I say?

I had a glass of Semillon that was rather pleasant but nothing to wax poetic about.

For desserts, I decided on a tart of Roysum plum which was served with vanilla ice cream. The tart was delicious, nice balance of sweetness and acidity, and the crust was fabulously buttery and flaky. I was less impressed by the ice cream, which was obviously not homemade and left pretty much the whole scoop untouched. I would have preferred a simple whipped cream with the tart rather than the slightly mediocre ice cream. I ordered a pot of Assam tea to accompany the dessert. I should have known better than to order tea in restaurants, they are almost always mediocre, either over brewed or bad quality leaves. The leaves weren't so bad here actually, but my waitress used far too large a quantity of leaves in such a tiny pot, the tea ended up bitter and over-brewed. Oh well.

The bill came to be just about 50$ without the tip (I also had a bottle of Panna). It was a bit of an indulgence for lunch, but the room was very pleasant, the service very friendly, and I was perfectly happy with the meal.

On the way home I walked by the tiny shop Yum and decided to stop by. Every time I go there I tell myself I should go there more often. It is really a lovely shop, the selection a bit sparse but well chosen. I left with a jar of fleur de sel of which I am almost out, and a small jar each of sourwood honey and tupelo honey. They are both by the Savannah Bee Co. and are raw and unfiltered. The Tupelo honey is light gold in color, tastes buttery and mild, with a very strong floral note at the end that is a bit stronger than Jean-paul Couto's Miel d'Acacia I brought back from Paris. The Sourwood honey is stronger, amber in color, and is absolutely delicious. The taste is a bit like burnt caramel with an ever so slight bitter edge at the end. I can't wait to have some tomorrow with my Strauss yogurt.

And now, home to pick up work where I left off. I think I'm going to be up pretty late working, oh well, at least my afternoon was lovely. :-)

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