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Monday, January 17, 2005

10 reasons why I love being a foodie in San Francisco, Part III

4. In the lap of luxury at the French Laundry.
092604lobsterpommesmaxim_3What more can I say about the French Laundry? It is great to have one of the best restaurants in the world practically in my own backyard (well I am speaking on a global scale here). The precise cooking, inventive –at times even whimsical- menu, perfectly inconspicuous service, and luxurious ingredients combine to create one of the best dining experiences anywhere in the world. I really should make it there more often.

3. Discovering Manresa.

Going to Manresa is more like visiting old friends than going to a restaurant these days. I’ve become such good friends with everyone there that Manresa is always a delightful experience, but it is clearly the food that keeps drawing me back over and over again.

070904anchoisterrineLet me tell you why I like Manresa so much. The entire restaurant inhabits the space, the terroir –to borrow a wine term- of the Santa Cruz mountains perfectly. Most of the exemplary produce is supplied by local farmers with whom Manresa has cultivated relationships. David Kinch is using the best ingredients that he could source, within the bounds of the price range of his menu. The service has a warmth and cheerfulness that is distinctly Californian.

David’s interest is to make the food taste the best it could, coaxing each ingredient to be the best expression of itself, and, in combination with other elements, to bring out the hidden facets of flavors or textures in one another. That is –to borrow yet another wine term- finesse, in every sense of the word.

2. Cowgirl Creamery.

I’m sure some of you have been amused by my reference to Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery as my “cheese godmother”. We met when she first opened Artisan Cheese in the tiny space next door to Curbside Café on California St. in my neighborhood. The darling little shop opened my eyes to a whole new world of cheese, from artisanal American cheeses, to amazing French cheeses aged by the wonderful Jean d’Alos in Bordeaux, to the British farmhouse cheeses from the impressive Randolph of Neals Yard in London.

Artisan is now closed, replaced by the wonderful Cowgirl Creamery, in a massive space whose cashier section alone is almost bigger than the whole of Artisan. Happily, the love and care that she and her partner Sue created Artisan is still evident today in everything at Cowgirl Creamery, and in an even grander scale. I love going there, looking, smelling, and tasting a growing array of artisanal cheeses from almost every conceivable corner of the globe.

(to be continued)

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