My Heart's Desire (Desiree Cafe -- San Francisco, CA)
***DECEMBER 23, 2005: I am so, so, SO sad to report that Desiree has now closed. There is hope since Anne plans to start something else up soon...stay tuned...***
Due to the fact that October is jam packed with Jewish holidays, and I happen to teach at a Jewish school, I've got a fair amount of time off this month. This is totally sweet and makes up for the fact that I went back to school in the middle of fucking AUGUST. And since Jon had jury duty in the morning and a fun work event in the city in the afternoon yesterday (I know, I know, he's spoiled as hell), we had an opportunity to grab a quick lunch together. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to try out Desiree Cafe.
Desiree Cafe is only open during the week, and they only serve lunch (Monday - Thursday) and brunch (Friday). So our opportunities to try it have been limited. After eating there yesterday, I think we both may have to start cutting work so we can keep going back. Seriously.
Anne Gingrass decided that after years of kicking ass and taking names at spaces such as Spago (Hollywood), Postrio and Hawthorne Lane (where she was chef and owner), she wanted to settle down and start making the kind of simple lunches that your mom might make you. If your mom was a celebrated chef and not the skanky ho that raised you in a trailer park, that is. Thus, Desiree Cafe, in the SF Film Center in the Presidio was born.
We looked at the menu and just started a Tourette's like stream of ordering. Jon got the chicken club and I got the ham and cheese. Oh, and we'd like the soup. And a strawberry lemonade and an iced tea. I know you already rang us up, but can we get a peanut butter cookie? And some orange poppyseed cookies? Thanks.
You can also sit down, but we didn't have time for that. Plus it was gorgeous outside so even if time had been plentiful, we wouldn't have been seduced by the adorable dining room. As Anne herself packed our bag ("Going on a picnic?," she asked), we giggled with anticipation over the goodies that awaited us.
We took a seat on the steps outside, and dug into our paper bag. Both sandwiches were wrapped in paper, sliced in half, and then wrapped again. Jon's was a sexy tower of pain de mie, homemade mayo, chicken breast, avocado, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce. This was maybe the most beautiful sandwich I'd ever seen. Jon took one bite, his whole face lit up and he exclaimed "it's like the PERFECT homemade sandwich!" And it really was. The ingredients were all the most high quality you could find, and the whole thing just felt so right. I've got some drool dripping down my chin right now just remembering the whole thing.
My sandwich was equally incredible. Composed of St. George cheese (let's all take a moment to lick our lips at that one), honey roasted ham, a kick ass Dijon mustard and all on perfectly grilled bread, it was a complete and total foodgasm all the way. The crunchy bread mixed with the soft, melty cheese provided a textural orgy. That coupled with ham that rivals that of Jon's pig farming uncle and we had ourselves a party.
The tomato and parmesan soup with garlic croutons defied expectations. Instead of being the creamy concoction that one expects when they see "tomato soup," it was a thinner soup. This made it no less delicious. It actually was very pleasing to me, as overly creamy soups do not do it for me. On top of that, we were given a slice of cornbread to compliment the soup. I'm picky about my cornbread, because I really love cornbread. This cornbread was delightful. The perfect balance of sugar and salt with the nice fluffy texture without being too cake-y. Too bad you can't order it on it's own, because I'd be buying truckloads of it.
I then reached in the bag to deposit one of the paper wrappers when I discovered a surprise. With our sammiches, we'd been given little bags of homemade seasoned popcorn. Hooray! I felt like a child reaching into their lunchbox and discovering that Mommy had included a surprise (again, we're talking about "good mommy" and not "crack ho mommy"). This popcorn was air popped and had a tasty combo of (I think) celery salt, paprika and perhaps nutritional yeast. Dude, I totally love surprises.
The peanut butter cookie (eaten today, as I had no more room left from yesterday; seriously, the meal lasted me all day) was, again, like a great home baked cookie. I have not yet busted into the orange poppyseed cookies, but I can't imagine that they'll disappoint.
Jon was thrilled with his iced tea. My strawberry lemonade was the only misstep. It didn't seem to have much lemon and tasted more like a watered down strawberry agua fresca. Oh well, we can't all be perfect like me. I'll wait for you to stop choking on your beverage with that one.
Desiree is known for their egg salad, but since Jon whines like a baby if he even has to smell a hard boiled egg, and I throw a giant tantrum when confronted with large quantities of mayo, that one was out of the question for us. I trust it is excellent, but I think it will be awhile before we give into the egg salad siren.
What did I like best about the whole experience? This simple but exquisite food was quite clearly prepared with a whole lot of love. And when I can get me some lovin' with my food, I'm one happy whore.
"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."