Tuesday, December 10, 2013
have you ever come across someone who's laugh never seems truly genuine? like...this or that is clearly hysterical but their laugh seems contained? this might look like shoulders hunched with a hand clasped over the person's oral region but there is a lack of sound. or a mousy little "hehe" type giggle. it could even just be a series of smirks and slight side mouth curls. i've come across some people who i find never let out a hearty guffaw and it makes me wonder if they are happy people in general. it also makes me wonder if they just think i'm an idiot and don't find me funny. who am i kidding? of course they find me funny! right?.....riiiiiight?? i'm of the belief that nobody should endure life without frequent chuckle-from-the-gut type laughter. it's true that laughter is the greatest medicine. it's also true that laughter burns mad calories. well...i don't know if that's any sort of factual but after a bout of what seems to be never ending 'haha's i definitely feel like my abs have done some work. it's stress relief. it's a way to connect with people. humor is naturally inherent in people. sure it looks different to each being but something has to push that holy-crap-i-might-pee-my-pants-from-all-of-this-hilarity button. a lack of laughter is a lack of happiness. all i'm saying is that people should have a life full of laughter and if that's not currently the case, it's time to start seeking what makes you truly smile and allow yourself to relax, let go, and laugh so heartily that you accidentally snort.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Helen and i decided to indulge in a fancypants wintertime meal for no reason other than we just really enjoy spoiling ourselves silly. we opted for Acquerello because it's been on our list for a while and we'd thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at their sister restaurant, 1760, not too long ago. i consider Acquerello sort of a hidden gem. while it's got great reviews, service and food, it's somehow not as well known as some of the other San Francisco restaurants of the same caliber. i feel like it's understated and i'm not sure why as my experience was truly memorable and noteworthy.
Acquerello offers pre fixe menus in your choice of 3 ($82), 4 ($96), 5 ($110) courses or their tasting menu. we opted for the Truffle Tasting Menu ($195), hence the sleepy eyes in the photo above. all of that rich truffle will surely put you in the most wonderful version of food coma you've ever experienced, not to mention the tasting menu consists of ten well (and hearty) portioned dishes to make you an instant few pounds heavier.
service is stellar here. you should expect that you will not be opening any doors during your visit (but expect it because their standard of service is well above average and not because you're just a diva/o that doesn't open her/his own doors in general). this is the kind of establishment that places a white or black napkin on your lap in accordance with the color of clothing you've chosen to wear at mealtime. everybody whom you are approached by speaks in a pleasant tone and makes eye contact with all parties at the table. they gave Helen a short stool to place her purse on. did you read that? a stool for her purse!! that's definitely the first time i've seen that. though because of short-people-syndrome, it was more desirable to use the stool as a foot stool. but don't worry, she refrained so as not to be an embarrassment. from the moment i walked in through the doors of Acquerello to the moment we stepped out was one of the most pleasant dining experiences i've had.
Truffle Tasting Menu
orange and bergamot juice
a refreshing, vibrant start to the meal with seasonal citrus
cheese/herb puff and gravlax over crostini
they actually called these 'chef's surprises' instead of 'amuse bouche.' both tasty little bites.
parmesan budino with truffle perlage
creamy and rich with truffle, though light in density. the caviar gave it some texture and the acidity of the salad cut through some of the richness.
olive oil poached egg yolk with potato foam and black truffles
there's never a time where delicately placed shaved truffle isn't welcome by me. add a sous vide egg yolk and crisp breadcrumbs and you've got the most winning dish. there was nothing not delectable about this.
truffle risotto with shaved white truffle
aaahh the beautiful white truffle! expensive as all hell (they offered shaved white truffle on each dish in place of black truffle for $65/dish. cray, forreal.). this dish was generous with the quantity and quality of risotto and fresh shaved truffle. another ultra rich plate that i savored happily.
poussin, celery root puree, apples, escarole and truffle foam
the chicken was cooked nicely and seasoned perfectly. the apple was a nice pairing. but the celery root puree is what stood out for me. it was creamier than i could imagine celery root could ever be. it's hard to describe but for it's density it surprisingly held great smoothness. i'm not sure that makes any sense to you, but it does me.
ridged pasta with 'foie gras', black truffle and marsala
i'm not sure if the 'foie gras' was indeed faux or whether it was written that way so as not to be informant to regulators considering foie gras is illegal in california. either way, 'twas delicious. the marsala was a tad bit sweeter than i wanted it to be but still a verrrry enjoyable dish. best believe i cleaned up every tiny speck of that sauce with rosemary bread.
Snake River Farms NY steak, chantrelle mushrooms, confited potatoes and bone marrow sauce
well cooked tender beef and good accompaniments but nothing special about this dish.
Cusie 'al malto di Orzo e whisky' with bourbon caramel semifreddo, Red Britton shiso and candied olives
this was surprisingly my favorite dish of the night. it was SO good that i would apply the cheesy (pun accidentally intended) phrase "oh my heavens" to the way i felt about this combination of flavors. the cheese was sharp and fragrant. the bourbon caramel semifreddo was the perfect amount of sweet and creamy with a very slight bitter note to it. the candied olive's brine added an interesting saltiness. these tastes in combination might not seem like they would marry well but good god was it magical all up in my taste buds! i could eat this all day!
vanilla-rose chantilly cream, nasturtium granita, compressed blueberries
a refreshing segway into sweet courses. cool. creamy. floral.
white truffle gelato, cocoa crumb and shaved Valrhona chocolate 'truffle'
not overly rich, which was a positive thing. the truffle in this was subtle but still made it's statement. the chocolate cocoa crumb had a salt component which enhanced the sweetness in a good way.
black truffle macaron
like, seriously? black. truffle. macaron. are there better things in this world? i'm not sure. the truffle flavor was amazing and potent. i really didn't want to part with this. like, seriously. i stared at it in awe of how it surpassed any expectation i had of what a truffle macaron could taste like. but the inevitable last bite came along and though i will likely never encounter the Black Truffle Macaron again in my lifetime, i'm so happy to have at least met it and experienced it. it's almost like 'the one that got away.' le sigh.
server: we'd like to finish your night with a sweet bite. what would you like?
me: selfishly, every sweet bite except the gelee, please!
"and a little something for breakfast."
from start to finish, everything about Acquerello was on point. this has been one of the best meals i've eaten in a while. and that's saying a lot because i just ate at Per Se not too long ago. fellas, if you've got a special occasion coming up with a woman you want to keep, take her here!!
Monday, November 25, 2013
on my way back from Kenya i stopped over to Manhattan for a very short day and a half to visit Leslie. on my agenda was 1) hopefully have a meal and catch up with the ever so busy Dr. Wong and 2) eat at Per Se. lucky for me Leslie somehow magically finagled some vacation time during my stay so i got some actual qt in with her.
walking around Central Park. in a park full of leafless trees, one bright red tree stands alone. i'm curious about how this happened.
pretty! also, Leslie's favorite chill spot.
prior to my trip to NYC i'd been to all of ultra acclaimed Chef Thomas Keller's restaurants except for Per Se. it's been a sort of goal of mine to dine at all of his restaurants so i finally made that happen last week. unfortunately i couldn't get a reservation in the dining room for the full tasting menu, but we at dinner at the Salon where there is a selection pulled from the tasting menu and is offered a la carte. we did a three course meal each and shared it all, allowing us to try a good number of the dishes.
a ton of bread for the two of us. a little excessive i think, but i'm not complaining. all very good and i imagine they were made at the Bouchon Bakery
foie gras with hazelnuts and apple.
served with quite possibly the best brioche i've ever had. ah how i miss thee, Foie! rich and buttery!
chestnut agnolotti with white truffle
rich, soft pillows made of fragile pasta and filled with fluffy whipped chestnut. holy yummmm
seared scallop with sunchoke
perfect scallop. this was probably my favorite dish of the night.
pork jowl with bacon and apples
mMmm. it's hard to go wrong with pork jowl. tender and super flavorful.
rib cap. i forgot what the other components were, but delicious! perfectly cooked and tender
green apple macaron
this was okay. i'm typically unimpressed by fancy pants desserts so it's just about what i expected.
the oh so famous coffee semifreddo and donuts
light and soft, my kind of donut...paired with a light frothy semifreddo.
Leslie wanted to check out this "play type thing where you can follow the characters to different rooms and see different scenes. oh and it's based off of Macbeth. and you have to wear a mask. oh and it's silent too. " that's all i knew about Sleep No More before we entered an unmarked warehouse in Chelsea. it sounded confusing but i'm usually game for anything so i figured 'why not.' but if you only knew what i saw or what the full experience is, you'd understand why it's appropriately called Sleep No More. they aren't joking. it's quite nightmarish BUT is also crazy awesome and each individual person's experience is completely different.
the gist of it is that the audience wears a masks. when you exit the elevator you're free to roam the warehouse which has been transformed into many rooms and levels of very intricate and detailed scenes varying from bedrooms, the woods, a cemetery, insane asylum, bar, etc. you can touch, move and read things. somewhere while you're discovering the scenery you run into a character and you can choose to follow the character or roam around. it's best to follow a character for a little while and then eventually move on to another character to get as wide range an experience as possible. if you're 'lucky' you get a one on one interaction with one of the characters. i was one of the 'lucky' ones and all i'll say is that it was a creepy as f*ck, absolutely haunting experience, though still awesome and sort of mesmerizing. i'm not sure if "lucky" is the word but i guess so since it's rare to get that interaction. i actually got it twice and was creeped out of my mind when the dead looking nurse grabbed my hand towards the end of the show. don't expect to watch a play from start to finish. that's not the point. gory and intriguing. mind altering and insane. awesome and mysterious.
if you can handle the sight of blood and nudity, you should give this a shot if your'e in NYC. don't look up the details too much or you'll spoil your experience. just go. and have no expectations. just let it happen and you're sure to come out of it feeling like you've been in another world for a couple of hours of your life. you'll also be happy to return to normalcy afterward. worth the experience for sure!
aaaaaand before i left to the airport back to SF a pigeon pooped on me for the first time in my life. so gross, but supposedly good luck. i don't really think i need luck in my life (it's pretty great already) so i'd appreciate the lack of crap on me next time, mmmkay Pigeons?
thanks for an awesome time in NYC, Les!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
i've done a fair amount of things in my life thus far but i'd say going on safari is at the top of that list. above finding my career early, skydiving, buying a house, shark cage diving, and (dare i say it...) dining at all of Thomas Keller's restaurants, safari has surpassed those experiences. it was a ridiculously incredible experience that i can't even put into words. there's something about nature that really gets me. i think it's the lack of control or enforcement. whatever happens happens. if a lion is hungry, it goes on a hunt. if it doesn't catch anything for an extended time, it dies. nobody is feeding it or making sure it gets it's daily dose of nutrients. to hear a lion's roar in the wild is exponentially more genuine and ferocious than hearing it when a trainer signals it at the circus and then tosses him a morsel of meat. aside from seeing the animals, there's also something about the chase while on safari. you never know what you're going to see or miss. you could drive by ten cheetahs without ever having known it because they were hiding in brush, so when you finally spot one your heart beats quickly and there is no greater satisfaction. here is a sample of just a glimpse into what i saw while on safari in Maasai Mara, Kenya.
the wildebeests were supposed to already have migrated but this year they stuck around for a bit longer. we were lucky enough to catch them while they were still here to see some of the migration.
like, is there anything cuter? (answer: yes, lion cubs are far cuter)
Hyena family! first we just saw the two hyenas and then this little guy popped up out of nowhere. SO cute and unexpected.
the mysterious Leopard. this was so damn cool to see!
zebra and child. notice the adult is quiiiiiiite excited to see us. haha!
Masai Giraffe. the pattern is different from the giraffes i'll bet you're used to seeing at the zoo.
amazing sunsets in Africa. seriously, the flat plains make for some awesome unobstructed shots of the sky
aaaaand the money shot! this is pretty much exactly the shot i wanted to get while in Kenya. it'd be even better with a silhouette of a large animal but this'll do. plus, thos little specks you see over yonder are likely wildebeests anyhow.
sunrise hot air balloon ride!
gross pic of me but i had to have one shot.
the dark lines you see forming on the bottom portion of this image are a line of wildebeests
wildebeest tread. they pave patterns while walking in lines behind one another
lion cubs!!! wish i were closer but they were adorable.
don't they look regal? or maybe that's the Lion King thing conjuring up ideas in my brain.
mom, lookin out.
jackal pup! soooo effing cute! i want.
so romantic, guys! i mean, get a room! i'm gonna go ahead and say that i witnessed Simba and Nala when he finally made a move.
all sorts of awesomeness.
why so smug? but seriously, male lions look like they just own the place.
cheetah! i was SO happy i got to see a cheetah. didn't think it was going to end up happening.
i'm going to pretend this is mid-roar but he's just yawning
doesn't this look like a 70's painting?
i <3 kenya="" p="">