CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

1095 meals later...

So I guess the number is a little smaller, like 1080 say, because the actual birthday of this blog is October 3rd. But since I'll be leaving for Kauai tomorrow, I thought I'd leave you with this while I am gone.

I can't believe my little baby bitchfest is already a year old. When I started this blog, I started it for the many people in my life who kept bugging me about where to eat (Shut yer traps already!). I had no idea that anyone else would (or would want to) read it. Fortunately for me, they did. And so, in honor of this momentous day, I've compiled a list of things from the past year:

Highest Number of Visitors in a Single Day: 262

Highest Number of Visitors in a Month: 5800ish

Number of Visitors All Year: As of this moment, 32,835

Total Number of Posts: 103, including this one

Total Number of Mesh Articles: 4

Most Disturbing Search Term: "fuck my dirty whore girlfriend" Nice folks I attract, huh?

Most Unexpected and Welcome Bonus: The incredible friends I've made

Biggest "You've Got to be Kidding Me" Bonus: Brian asking me to write for Mesh

Most Unlikely Reader Demographic: Asian Stockbrokers

Best Meal(s): Almost every meal we ate in Thailand. My birthday dinner at Campton Place. Our anniversary dinner at Cyrus. Every meal at Delfina.

Best Food I Ate Outside of the County this Year: Street Food in Bangkok, hands down. Duh. Like you didn't see that coming.

Pieces of Hate Mail for the Michael Mina Post: 9

Pieces of Fan Mail for the Michael Mina Post: 14 (yee haw!)

Number of Chefs Who Have Posted On the Blog/E-mailed Me: 8, including three from other countries.

Number of Oysters Eaten: Around 157, I would guess

Number of Burritos Eaten: 43

Number of Times My Grandma Has Asked Why I Have to Swear So Much In the Blog: 32

Thing That Makes Me Happiest: Being able to give a little love back to the restaurants that have taken such good care of me for so many years.

Thing I'm Most Proud Of: Staying true to myself and not compromising my style or ethics to please anyone else. I still don't write anything down, I still make friends with my servers, bussers, chefs and bartenders and I still own my opinions, popular or not. Fuck, yeah!

And, finally, my blog birthday wish for this year: To be able to write off some of these meals so I can afford the personal trainer that I so desperately need after all of this gluttony.

Thank you to everyone who has read, loved, laughed, been outraged, paid attention to me, shared a meal with me and put up with my potty mouth. I have adored finding people who get as dorkass excited about food as I do. I love you. Lots.

Happy Birthday, bitches!


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sometimes It's Good to Be Flaky (The 23rd, A Meme)

So Shuna, goddess of the pastries, has tagged me for this meme. Then I got tagged by my part time lover, Fatemeh. It requires me to do the following:

1. Delve into your blog archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions. Ponder it for meaning, subtext or hidden agendas...

5. Tag five people to do the same.

So mine was my Tartine post. And the sentence was:

"And their croissants are so crazy good that you will find yourself eating one in your car because you can't wait until you get to work/home/school to eat it."

I stand by my word that the croissants will rock the world of anyone who lets the tasty treats pass their lips. I also think this sentence shows the profound lack of self control that I have since I can't wait even the 1-2 fucking miles in the car to start eating it. And you people think I don't need a twelve step program. In fact, I think I may have to stop typing and go get myself one right this damn second. Except I'm going to Hawaii in three days and that involves wearing a bathing suit so I think I'll just break out the handcuffs and spend some quality time chained to the leg of the coffee table instead.

At any rate, I wish my sentence was more exciting than this one, but it's not. It really just gives you insight into what the good folks at Tower Car Wash encounter when I bring my car to them twice a year.

So, in conclusion, I tag a bunch of people who probably won't do this (and some that probably don't even have 23 posts at this point, but everyone I know in the friggin' blogosphere has been tagged for this already). Here goes:

1. Sam, because I haven't seen her entry yet so I have to figure she might not have been tagged.
2. Catherine, likewise
3. NS, who is new to the scene but fabulous nonetheless
4. Alice, because she always makes me hungry
5. The Bunrabs, who are unlikely to do this, but I love Chubby so much that I can't resist

There you have it, dolls. Tune in later this week for my *gasp* one year anniversary post. And then I'm shipping my ass off to Hawaii. Anyone that wants to chime in on where to eat on Kauai, go for it. I know about a bunch from my last trip (Kintaro, Bubba's Burgers, Tropical Taco), but if you have any fav's send them my way.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I'm Too Sexy For My Blog

Hey there boys and girls! Check out my new digs:).

That's right, I gots me a new look thanks to my kickass husband and our kickass friend, who also did this site.

This is phase one -- there's more wacky and fun times to come in the not so distant future. Have fun in my own personal candy land here.

Aw, yeah. Rock on, bitches.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Buy the Sea (Sakana -- San Francisco, CA)

I've been on a sushi rampage lately. Just gobbling it up. A kid at the school I work at had a very famous case of mercury poisoning a few years back, so I figure why let him have all the fun? Am I right?

At any rate, we hit up Sakana last week after getting a recommendation from Melissa and Michael. We also read that it's popular among Japanese tourists and figured it was as good an endorsement as any.

We went on a weeknight and had no trouble getting in or getting a seat. We chose the sushi bar. I was in the inaugural stages of my cold so I wasn't extremely hungry. Even so, we showed up like the sluts we are.

We had the toro, or fatty tuna. We were told to order it no matter what the cost. Since no cost was listed, we just took our chances. Holy crap. This was incredible. Melty and succulent and the two pieces we got as nigiri were enormous. Worth every penny, whatever that penny would turn out to be. When we discovered it was only $10, cheaper than a night with the crack ho on the corner outside, we cursed our sorry asses for not ordering more.

Since I loves me my tunas, we also got a seared special. It was coated in sesame seeds, just barely seared, on a bed of greens with spicy spicy love juice on top. It was outstanding. This was followed by a "crispy roll" of tempura asparagus and shrimp, all smothered in my favorite, roly poly tobiko. This was really well done, and satisfying and I loved it. If you are looking for excitement, though, this is not the item to order.

We also had salmon nigiri, which was as fresh as any we've had. Plus the totally balls awesome part is that the Omakase works the wasabi into the rice when he's making the nigiri. As it should be, Mr. Sushi Man, as it should be.

Sakana quickly rose to be in my top 5 of Super Rockin' Kickass Sushi. All that plus a beer and some green tea? $32 before tip. Nice.

If you need me, I'll be working on my mercury poisoning.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Can I Get That With a Side of Nyquil?

Like everyone else right now, I am sick. Yeah, I know, I should just suck it up and deal. Between that and the close of my show (which was asked to be part of Best of the Fringe, thank you very much. Of course, we're not available to do it as a lot of us -- including me -- are not available for the dates, but it's still fucking cool, right?), I have had no time to kick it with the computer.

This has put a cramp in my dining style. Because, really, what do you do when you have to blow your nose a thousand times during a meal? Other than gross the other patrons out, I mean. My appetite has been suspiciously absent as well. This is great if you consider the 2.5 pounds I've lost in the past 4 days, but not so good when you're trying to slut about the town.

I did manage to hit A16 on Friday after my show. It had been awhile since we'd been, and I forgot how fucking good it is. I mean it's just unreal how great that place is. And we had Raymond as a waiter, and, really, everybody loves Raymond. He rocks my world. So did the pork terrine special with chanterelles.

We also went to a birthday shindig at Medjool. First impression is really good food and a really crappy bar (you can't make a bloody mary because you don't have bloody mary mix? What kind of bullshit is that? Buy some freakin' tomato juice, jerkwad).

Between my sniffles, I made a kickass German Chocolate Cake for the aforementioned friend's birthday. Whenever I make it, I realize how very few of the ingredients have any nutitional value. But good God that bitch is moist. And fluffy enough to sleep on.

I've also managed to sit on my ass quite a bit while spending quality time with my couch. I've used this time to reconnect with my Martha, whose new show is rocking my world. I love her. A lot. And I really think prison is the best thing that ever happened to her.

At any rate, I have a bunch of posts burning a hole in my keyboard but I can't commit to them at the moment as I'm still a bit on the ill side. I've gone through more tissues this week than a 14 year old boy.

I'll have more love for you soon.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Monday, September 12, 2005

Margaritaville (Tommy's Restaurant -- San Francisco, CA)

I really should be shot for the title of this post. The fact that I couldn't come up with anything more clever than a Goddamn Jimmy Buffett song is just retarded.

At any rate, let me tell you about Tommy's. Tommy's is located about a half a block away from my weekly dim sum fix. I never really noticed it until about two years ago, when a friend who'd lived in SF her whole life suggested we go there.

Now if you hit up Tommy's on the weekend, you're kind of fucked. There are no reservations and the place gets crazy busy. This is not because they have great food. They don't. It's because they have the best margaritas your money can buy.

Tommy's has a freakin' ENORMOUS tequila selection. Anejo, Reposado, Blanco -- they've got it. We like the Oro Azul. They'll make you a kick ass margarita by the glass or the pitcher, anyway you like it. Rocks or blended? (You'd better say rocks or I'll have to come over there and give you a talking to a la Britney Spears Federline).

It's a hell of a good time with a bunch of people. Just keep downing them there pitchers. They've even got habanero tequila (I've tried it; it's good), which they'll let you drink as much of as you want for free, as long as you go outside to puke. My kinda joint.

So, yeah, the food isn't great, but it's passable. You get a warm basket of chips with two kinds of salsa, all of which is pretty decent, unlike yo' mama. Once you place your order, they'll bring you what Jon lovingly refers to as the "crappy salad." Don't get me wrong -- this is a term of endearment as far as he's concerned. This salad is iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and the dressing, my friends, is mild salsa. I can't get down more than half, which makes Jon's day as he can eat both his and the other half of mine. That's OK with me -- just keep pouring those margaritas.

As for entrees, everyone we know finds one thing that they like and then they stick with it. It's your safest bet. We have a friend who digs the Yucatecan Tamales and Jon recently had a mole special, which was a cut above their usual fare. I always stick with the camarones al mojo de ajo. Them there scrimps are nice and garlicky, and I can doctor 'em up real nice. This is because if you ask nicely, your server will bring you their habanero sauce, which is pretty much mashed up fire roasted habaneros. I just slap my shrimp in a tortilla with a little of this love juice and then I'm all good. You also get some black beans and some inexcusably awful Spanish rice, but again, the habanero sauce will mask any unpleasantness because it really kicks ass. Just know your limits because I don't want any whining about it being too spicy if you've dumped the whole bowl of the crap in your first tortilla as one of my friends once did (it goes without saying that she didn't finish her meal).

All in all, Tommy's is worth a trip, if only to get your drink on. And if you find that thing that you like and stick to it like glue.

Pass the habanero sauce.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Monday, September 05, 2005

You Are The Sunshine of My Life (Cyrus -- Healdsburg, CA)

*** Update on Cyrus here***

Being a restaurant whore does have it's drawbacks, namely, where the hell does one go to celebrate a special occasion? So we were in a bit of a pickle when it came time to decide where to go for our fifth anniversary. Especially because previous anniversaries had gone as follows:

1st anniversary: Aqua, which included free caviar parfaits and dessert as the chef de cuisine at the time lived in our building.

2nd anniversary: Slanted Door, which included sous chef Justine ordering and cooking us two pound lobsters.

3rd anniversary: Fleur de Lys, which was a HUGE let down, but a valuable experience nonetheless, which included us bonding over the sheer preposterousness of the fact that entire parties came and went in the time it took to go from our cheese course to the check (their fault, not ours).

4th anniversary: Our second visit to the French Laundry (yeah, I know, I suck balls for not writing about them yet, but I'm going again soon so I'm waiting). Need I say more?

So what does one do? One reads the trades, that's what one does. And that's how we discovered the gloriousness of Cyrus. I dialed the phone, found us some seats, booked an overpriced hotel room (I was not making a two hour drive home after a meal like this, and it was a good thing, too, as you will see later in this post) and danced around the room like a leprechaun on crack. The excitement of the newness was just too much for me to contain.

Cyrus, which was the name of the man who founded the Persian empire, also means sun. Clever, that.

I knew that it was going to be a good experience when we arrived in Healdsburg and decided to walk by and check it out. We peeked in the windows like grubby little children looking at puppies. And the two members of the staff getting ready for service smiled and waved. My heart skipped a beat.

I have this fantastic dress that is sexy, yet is made of a material that can expand with my waistline (thank God for BCBG's post holiday sale). This dinner was an occasion for such a dress, so I slipped into it while Jon put on his suit that we had made dirt cheap in Thailand. He also put on his orange silk tie that we bought in Como, Italy (it was a multi-national outfit). When he put it on, he looked down and said: "Why do I feel like there has been vomit on this tie?," to which I replied: "My birthday. Last year. After La Folie." "Ah," he said, "thanks." Jon occasionally overindulges at fine restaurants, which leads to an embarrassing cab ride and a trip to the dry cleaners. We've finally figured out that the deadly combination involves red wine, coffee and a creamy dessert. This may not seem important now, but you'll see.

When we arrived at Cyrus for our meal, the hostess practically jumped out of her skin in order to escort us to the dining room. Once you have entered the room, the most brilliant thing in the world happens: they pick up a phone to tell the chef you have arrived, and to send canapes to your table. As in: "Chef, the Restaurant Whore party is here celebrating their anniversary with us. If you could, please send canapes to them at table 43."


Why, you might ask? Isn't it pretentious, one might suppose? Don't you find it silly, you inquire? Here's why: This one simple gesture achieves something that everybody wants when they go to a restaurant -- it makes you feel special. Fuck yes, it's silly and I LOVE that. What other restaurant of this caliber would be willing to risk looking like fools to make a few people feel like it matters that they chose to eat there over somewhere else? Not many. When they called the chef to "announce" us, I swear I smiled wider than an 18 wheeler. I want to go back just for the phone.

We were brought to a lovely corner table arranged so that we were both seated on comfy banquettes. The hostess toured us around the dining room before we nestled into our seats.

Immediately, little canapes appeared. They included a little spoon with smoked sablefish with an herb puree, and a chickpea something. I forget what they called it, but it was a little diamond that was firm and dry (in a good way) on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. I really loved it. I could have eaten a trash bag full. As for the sablefish, neither of us have ever been huge fans of smoked fish in general, but we lapped it up and, *gasp*, enjoyed it. In fact, it may have made me a smoked fish convert.

Since things like this put us totally in our element, we were so delighted that we were on the verge of bouncing on the banquettes. It was then that two completely bitchin' things happened: The first, was Jason Alexander, the sommelier came to our table and introduced himself. He reminded me of someone we know at good old SD, who Jason actually knew as well. And I instantly developed a little crush on this sweet and cheerful man. *Sigh.* And he brought with him the second thing, which was the caviar and Champagne cart. Now we all know how I feel about a cart devoted to just Champagne. So you can imagine the climax I had when this cart also included caviar, along with an antique caviar scale. Little cartoon hearts appeared above my head. When Jason left, I leaned into Jon and whispered, "I know it's horrible, but I might have to leave you on our anniversary for him." To which he replied "No worries at all -- I would, too." Do you see why I love this man?

Now, you'll need to forgive me with the wine. I enjoyed it all immensely (as you will also see) but I don't write when I'm eating. That would take all the fun out of it for me. And since we let cutie pie Jason choose all of our wine, except the sparklies, I don't even have the benefit of having said the names of the wines myself. So while I can recall what varietals we drank, and what it tasted like, I can't tell you the producer or the year. Sorry about that. What I CAN tell you is that everything we had was great.

So we each had a glass of Champagne. Jon is a sucker for the pink stuff, so he went with the one they were offering, and I went for a standard ol' Brut. Both from France, both delish. And to go with that, we got a half ounce of caviar. We went with the Black River Oscetra (as they spell it), because, well, it sounded fucking cool. You see, because the Caspian sea was getting overfished, a bunch of folks decided to grab some of them there sturgeon and plant them in the Black River in Uruguay. The result is equally tasty caviar, for a far smaller ecological price.

They weighed out our caviar on the pretty scale and then the accompaniments arrived. Thinly sliced and fried fingerling potatoes, creme fraiche, egg yolk and chives. We dug in with our tiny little mother of pearl spoons. And it was glorious. We made little towers, careful not to let any of the little buggers roll out of bounds. And when the server returned to clear our plates, he exclaimed "That was record time!" Do we get a prize? It seems we did, as you will later see.

After the couple next to us had wiped the horrified looks off their faces, the meal continued. The next thing to happen was the arrival of an amuse bouche -- a tidbit of shrimp with some red curry atop watermelon and tomato tartare, also on a spoon, except a somewhat larger one this time. Eating it made me smile. Ever since Thailand, I've been a big fan of watermelon mixed into my savory bits and this execution was spot on. The spicy and the sweet got it on in the best way possible.

We opted for the seven course tasting menu with wine pairing. It required no thinking on our part. I did, however, request to substitute one of the lobster preparations (I needed that lobster so I was going to abandon the tasting for the five course if it wasn't a possibility) for the foie gras, and also the pork belly for the veal. I'll try anything once, but that doesn't mean I'll continue to eat it. Foie gras is simply too rich for me, and veal, well, I just don't care for it all that much. I decided to leave those two items to Jon, if the kitchen was willing to comply with my requests. They were. Game on.

A word about the Chef: We've always had a soft spot for Doug Keane. He went to the same school as we did, and is just a great guy. We'd had the pleasure of talking with him when he was doing his thing at Market, and he's super good people. And we spent a good deal of the meal feeling really proud for him, because he truly deserves the success this restaurant will bring him.

On to more food: A blue fin tuna sashimi arrived with lemon cucumbers and basil tomato water. The tuna was flawless and melted seamlessly into my tongue. The accoutrements were awakening. So often is sashimi paired with Asian ingredients that one begins to expect them. In this case, the absence of those flavors and the replacement of the others was really refreshing. It was a great first course as it didn't hamper the appetite one teensy bit. Wicked. The wine here escapes me, but I didn't have a single wine that I didn't like. And I can be a picky bitch when it comes to wine.

Then came our foie gras/lobster. Jon's foie gras came with cherry compote, an almond financier and cherry gastrique. He couldn't quite place his finger on it but while he found it enjoyable, it was not, as he put it, his "favorite foie gras ever." It was seared beautifully, he said, but something felt like it was missing. Maybe, he thought, it needed less tartness, more sweetness. Or maybe it was too, as he put it, "tendon-y." It was very good, he said, but in a contest he'd pick French Laundry or Campton Place over this preparation (FYI: for a supplement Cyrus will do all three foie preparations for you). With this came some liquid candy, a.k.a. Sauternes.

My lobster was a wet dream come true. The Thai marinated lobster was on top of some melon which was on mashed avocado. Fresh hearts of palm were draped on top. The flavors were fresh, alive, and, for lack of a better word, energetic. I simply adored it and almost stabbed Jon with my fork when he went for a bite. But then I remembered it was our anniversary so I let him have some. My crustacean was paired with some lovely Reisling, my grape of choice (I went to school in upstate New York, can you blame me?)

We then got a little taste of some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that was really refreshing. Bottle had a screw cap, too. Is that just awesome, or what?

Next came white bass with sweet corn, sea beans, tomatoes and squash with sherry vinaigrette. This wasn't anything unusual, but it was good. Jon made the wise observation that we shouldn't eat it all as it involved lots of protein and we'd be cursing ourselves later if we did. Smart man. Except he should've mentioned that we shouldn't finish all the wine either. The fish was cooked extremely well and the side bits went really nicely together. Again, nothing extraordinary, but delicious nonetheless. We got a Chardonnay with this, which made me feel a little sad, until I tasted it. It had none of the oak-y, flabby characteristics that I expected. Instead it was light and yummy. Add another point for Mr. Alexander.

Time for some pigeons. The squab was next. This was really great, but having not heeded Jon's earlier advice, I was getting full. So while the squab was tender and juicy with a crispy edge to each piece, I only managed to get down two of the four slices. The cannellini beans, peppers and scallions that accompanied it got slight nibbles as well. Despite my dwindling appetite, it was the best squab I've had. Unfortunately, I don't remember the wine, but there was some.

It was at this point that I got up to pee for the first of ten thousand times. The wine was beginning to take it's toll on my bladder, and I found it more and more necessary to monitor my speech and movements. But I was maintaining for the time being. While I was in the loo, they covered my food so it wouldn't get cold. And offered to cover Jon's if he wanted to wait for me to return. He didn't.

When I returned, Jon had removed his jacket and placed it on the upper corner of the banquette. It was throw down time.

Jason brought us wine, a Cab, I believe, and then realized I was getting the pork belly in lieu of the veal. So I got a California Pinot Noir, which made Jon pout since he didn't get any pinot at all. Now the only smart move I made all evening was to agree to share my pinot with him.

As we began eating, Jon grabbed someone on the arm. I barely had a chance to realize what was going on before I noticed it was Chef Keane. Jon said, "We are enjoying this so much, we are so happy for you. You have a great restaurant." Chef Keane was so unassuming that no one else had even realized he was in the dining room. He was as gracious as ever, remembered us from Market and made us love him even more than we already did. It makes me so happy that good things are happening for this man.

Jon dove into his veal loin with farro, fava beans and chanterelles. You need to understand that farro, fava beans and chanterelles are three of Jon's favorite foods in the world. So he was in complete heaven. And this particular veal loin was awarded the title of best veal he's ever had. Way to go veal! I didn't try it so I have to take his word for it.

I had an award of my own, though, and that was best pork belly I've ever had. I'm a sucker for pork belly. I ADORED this dish. And spent most of my time with it cursing that I hadn't saved more room. And that I was feeling pretty drunk. My little piggy tummy was glazed with bourbon and ginger and came with peaches, grits and a leafy green that I think was spinach. These grits were INCREDIBLE. Best grits ever. So comforting and so good. And the peach was almost like dessert. I almost became a polygamist and married this dish. But I couldn't finish it. FUCK! We couldn't let these go so asked to take them home (Jon had aspirations of having a midnight snack) and they were put in cute little containers in a beautiful bag. Our containers were labeled "for the lady" and "for the gentleman." Ha! I'm a lady!

After they cleared our plates, Jon took off his tie and unbuttoned his top button. No more room for pretense, and the genial staff seemed to be having as much fun as we were. For my part, there was no denying that I was now pretty toasted. If you are counting, we've had eight wines so far. I rarely drink more than 3 glasses on a balls to the wall party night (Yes, I'm a pussy, now shut up). And while these eight were not full glasses, we're looking at about 4-5 full glasses of wine at this point. And I'm turning into chatty Kathy. Fortunately for me, Jon knows to not let me embarrass myself, so he adeptly steered the conversation whenever necessary.

It was then that we were brought the glorious cheese cart. And some more wine (red, but at this point, don't ask me what it was). This is the most impressive cheese cart I've seen. We were given expert guidance by Brendan, who told us he was from Kansas, calls himself a cheese sommelier and that his dad doesn't like that. I let Brendan know that we liked it, and I also informed him that I was having a little trouble maintaining. Nice, Joy, nice. Brendan treated us right and piled on the cheese for us when he saw how excited we were. He listened to our preferences -- he totally got why we didn't prefer goat cheese ("too chalky, right?" he said, in an understanding voice). He was AWESOME. The details are fuzzy but we had a RAW Brillat Savarin which was so nice to try, but I found it to be a bit barnyard-y for my taste. We also had Angel's Feet, a tallegio like cheese that we both really liked. Several pecorinos that I was ready to put in my purse, a goat cheese that almost made us converts. All told we had about eight cheeses. I would go back just for the cheese cart.

We then had a surprise for our anniversary (another anniversary couple across from us had received the same thing). Little shot glasses with gooseberry juice filled about 1/3. Ken, our waiter (who had defected from the French Laundry), then took an old-fashioned seltzer bottle and filled the rest. We sipped out of little metal straws and felt like little kids. It was adorable.

At this point, there is no denying that I am straight up drunk, but I'm continuing to hide it well. So I'm told.

Here comes dessert, and coffee for Jon. He got the ricotta and summer berry tasting and I got baked chocolate mousse, Santa Rosa plums and meringues. I would've liked these to have been more innovative. I didn't have much of Jon's but I know he didn't care for it much. My impression of it was that it was a bit dry and needed a tad more sugar. My dessert was very good and the plums looked like little gems but wasn't anything that got a "wow," which made it seem inferior to the rest of the meal. I was sad that it had been chosen for us; some of the other desserts I saw looked like a lot more fun, such as the caramel soup with kettle corn sorbet. Ay, me. Maybe next time. I got Port with mine, Jon got something golden but I have no idea what it was. It was hard enough to pay attention to what I was getting at that point.

We were brought our bill and little treats, and Jason also brought some delicious fizzy dessert wine. It was scrumptious. Our petit fours were incredible. We got homemade caramels, key lime ices on itty bitty spoons and white chocolate truffles. Clearly this pastry chef knows what she's doing, despite our slightly lackluster desserts. We were also given a box of little treats to take home which included a teeny palmier, a homemade tootsie roll, peanut butter fudge and a marshmallow. Mmmmm.

Jon glanced at the bill and his eyes grew wide. It was either that we got something for free or we were overcharged. When I asked, he said "I'll tell you later" and I realized it was the former. Score!

Owner/GM Nick Peyton came to take our bill, saw our debit card and said "Nice bank." We then launched into an extremely nice discussion with this incredibly nice man who beautifully pretended I was not drunk. He spent quite a bit of time with us. There is something about him that exudes professionalism and warmth at the same time. He's fucking good at his job. You can see why he's been at the top of his class for such a long time. I was charmed. This man treated us like old friends, and I began to understand that Cyrus really dedicates itself to making diners feel like rock stars. They had me at hello.

After the paying (and tipping of 25%) and the thanking, they gave us a custom menu to take home that included our (misspelled) names, that it was our 5th anniversary dinner and the date, plus all the things we ate even though I had made a few substitutions. Righteous. Unfortunately for you, dearest readers, no wine pairings were listed.

I graciously walked out the door. Once I hit the street to walk back to our overpriced hotel, however, I became drunk girl (recount: I had no fewer than ELEVEN different wines over the course of the evening) and we are lucky that I even made it to the room. I made Jon tell me (about 1,000 times, no less) that I hadn't embarrassed myself. If I had, the staff certainly didn't let on. And Jon would have no problem telling me if I had made an ass of myself. I think he would rather have enjoyed it a bit if I had. No such luck for him.

And then he told me what we got for free.


I was sure I had died from alcohol poisoning and gone to heaven. We then got worried that it was a mistake and not a gift. And then started thinking we should have tipped more. Our 25% became about 19% if you factor in the freebies. So we decided we'd go back the next day and make it right.

Then my inebriated state got the better of me. And I did something I am ashamed to admit, but I can't hide it from you, lovies.

I tossed my cookies. And probably the cheese. And maybe (*sniff*) a bit of the pork belly. And then the apocalypse happened because I NEVER do that. That's Jon's job. Mother fucker.

I slept like a babe after that and when we woke (sans hangover, thank you very much), we bought a little wine notecard, thanked the staff profusely for an extraordinary experience, told them the wine pairing got the better of us and threw in a little cash. Thus bringing our gratuity to about 25% again if you factor in the free stuff. Consciences assuaged, all was right in the world again.

FYI, when we saw Jason at Coco 500 two nights later, he thanked us for the "very nice" note. And smiled when we mentioned that we weren't sure if the gifts were actually gifts or mistakes. And he was just as nice as he had been in his own restaurant. I really heart that man.

My verdict: Cyrus kicks ass. Sure, there are a few small things that could use a little work/polishing, but I have faith they'll be corrected in no time. 90% of our food was exemplary and 150% of our service was above and beyond the call of duty (the service there is as good as, if not better than, any restaurant I've ever been to). I can't wait to return. When I do go back, though, I think I'll go for the 5 course where I can pick my own stuff. The seven ended up being entirely too much food, and the regular menu looked so good that I don't think it would detract at all to skip the tasting menu. I think I may even have to order all three of the lobster preparations on my next visit. Why not, right?

I have become a sun worshipper.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Who's the Weenie Now? -- Part 2

Let's continue with food critic Sunday, shall we?

So after rehearsal today, Scott invited me to try out his friend's place, Sea Salt, which was up the street from where we were rehearsing. Now Sea Salt is great, and I'll post on it later (I want to go once more since there is a lot more I want to try before writing about it), but the restaurant itself is not the point of this post.

Now once we were seated, Scott proceeded to out me to everyone he knew, which would have normally pissed me off (and I'm sure Sam is going to want to kill him herself once she reads this), but in this case I didn't mind since *he* already knew everyone and was getting special treatment to begin with. Plus I'm a restaurant whore, not a restaurant critic. And besides, in the long run, who really gives a fuck about me anyway? Yeah, that's what I thought.

So one of the people Scott introduces me to is Jan Newberry, Food Editor for San Francisco Magazine, who happened to be eating there with her family. She is really lovely. And I really wish I had her hair.

Anyway, Scott outs me to Jan, mentioning that I write a column for Mesh, I play it way down as, again, I am but a speck of nothingness on the culinary horizon and she writes about food for a magazine that I do really adore. I mention that I really pissed off her co-worker a little while back, and that I felt like a complete ass about it. And then, wait for it...., she says: "Oh, I know you," and I feel like a total jackass all over again. I'm thinking of changing my name to the Notorious J.O.Y., what do you think? At any rate, after Scott says "your reputation precedes you," we spent the rest of the conversation talking about what a great guy/writer Josh is. 'Cause he is.

Scott says, "Hey, she knew who you were -- any publicity is good publicity." I'm not so sure I agree. Because, really, I love food people, including critics and I'd rather not have them thinking I'm some crazy self important she-wolf. I just really like eating.

Karma is a bitch.


P.S. In a bit of shameless self promotion (but really, when am I ever NOT shameless?), here is the info for the show Scott and I are in. Come see it. It's good. Really.

"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Today I Love Michael Bauer

In the Chronicle today is an article on "The Magnificent Seven," which is about the seven restaurants that they deign to bestow four stars on.

These include Campton Place, Chez Panisse, The Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton, Fleur de Lys, French Laundry, La Folie and Manresa. They reviewed several others when making this cut and found they just didn't have what it takes.

Well slap my ass and call me Sally because that is the best thing I could have woken up to. Sure, I had the most horrible service of my life at Fleur de Lys and I've never been to the Ritz (it's on my to-do list) but I couldn't have picked the other five better myself. I have half a mind to go down to the Chronicle and kiss Mr. Bauer, although I suspect that might get me removed from the premises.

Notice who is missing? That's right, my nemesis, Michael Mina. Pardon me while I do my I-told-you-so dance. Yee haw! Who else is missing? Mr. Gary Danko. I have been meaning to pay him a visit lately as my last visit was years ago. I haven't been able to bring myself to do it though, because when I did go there, I found the food to be well prepared but on the boring side. According to this article, not much has changed. But since I have a mind of my own, I may just have to hunker down and go there anyway. Then I think of what it costs and realize that I'd rather just go back to Manresa.

As for Campton Place, Chez Panisse, French Laundry, La Folie and Manresa, I couldn't be more thrilled. I've had extraordinary meals at all of those places (he also mentions Jon's single favorite dining moment ever -- cutting into a foie gras torchon at Campton Place and having maple syrup spill out). Can I get another Yee-Haw?


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Did You Know That...

...if you go to it will bring you back here?

All you haters out there who complain that my url is too long now have a solution (but really, would it kill you to bookmark it?). Actually, you've had that solution for awhile now, I just never got around to posting it.

If it doesn't work for you, let me know. Sometimes Jon forgets to fix things after he screws around with the computer. This, however, is a forgivable offense in my book as I am technologically retarded.

Hopefully this new development will help those of you that have carpal tunnel or are just too lazy to type out the whole damn thing. Have fun!


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Friday, September 02, 2005

Crawfish and Po' Boys and Beignets, Oh my!

I am back from my camping trip in one piece. Unfortunately, after seeing the news, I can see that others are not so lucky.

It's been six years since I was last in New Orleans, which, in my opinion, is way too long. New Orleans, warts and all, is one of the most unique and electrifying cities in our country. It's one of those cities where you can feel the history with every step you take. I really love it.

And, boy, can you eat well in New Orleans.

Let's help this city repair itself and heal as soon as possible.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld