Came to the Bay Area last week on business, and to visit daughter, SIL, and new grandson, and (not entirely incidentally), to eat some great food.
Day 1: Mostly driving from Vegas, with lunch brought from home. Arrived at daughter and SIL's house mid-evening, in time for grilled burgers (made from 28-day dry-aged steak trimmings) stuffed with our choice of add-ins -- in my case, sauteed onions and aged Gouda. Excellent start to several days of debauchery.
Day 2: Adequate but unexceptional brunch at Broadway Grill, Burlingame. Eggs Benedict, with perfectly poached eggs (I like mine with the yolks just set), and mediocre hollandaise, which was a bit of a deal-killer. Daughter also had benedict; SIL had the roast beef hash, which he thought was fine.
On our way down the coast, we stopped at Creekside Smokehouse in El Granada, picked up some smoked salmon and albacore to take back to Vegas; also got some albacore spread. Early afternoon light picnic at a beach near Pescadero, including aforementioned albacore spread w/everything crackers, and big hunks of an artichoke/garlic/herb loaf, hot out of the oven from Norm's Arcangeli in Pescadero. Washed down with Bundaberg root beer.
Then after a brief stop at Swanton for tiny and flavorful strawberries for the next day (they were out of shortcake, dangit), on to Los Gatos for dinner at Dio Deka, compliments of SIL. Wow.
Started out with some shared apps: Spanakotiropita (very good); Dolmathakia -- grape leaves stuffed with, in this case, braised beef cheeks, mushroom puree, etc (incredibly good); SIL ordered an octopus app, which just isn't my thing.
Main: Ippoglosos (Alaskan halibut, served with summer squash and zucchini fritters). Excellent. Perfect, flavorful piece of fish. Daughter and SIL had braised lamb shanks and grilled lamb chops, respectively.
Dessert (shared): Baklava, Loukoumathes (Greek beignets in thyme-honey syrup with cinnamon), and some sort of ice cream. I really liked the loukoumathes, as did SIL.
Outstanding and memorable meal all around. Wish I could eat like this regularly.
Day 3: Breakfast of Swanton strawberries, then off to work, at a conference in a downtown hotel. Due to a procedural issue, I was unable to go out to lunch as planned, and had to settle for a very rushed hotel-banquet lunch. To be fair, it was better than the usual banquet fare, but was still the low point of the trip as far as food goes.
After work, off to daughter and SIL's house for a pre-dinner informal aged Gouda tasting:
1. Vintage 5-year triple-aged: Crumbly, caramelly and just great -- among the best aged Goudas I've had -- and I've had some good ones
2. Prestige Brugge: also excellent
3. Sbrinz AOC /Rolf Beeler: Tasted more like a super-aged Swiss, and there was nothing wrong with that.
Started out again with some shared apps: Crabcakes (decent, but having had the very best Maryland crabcakes last year in season, I'm spoiled); crab crostini (good)
Main: Probably the best steak I've had in years. 21-day dry-aged bone-in filet, perfectly done, topped with nicely-browned grilled onions. I usually order ribeye, but the bone-in filet came highly recommended, and I was not disappointed. Far better than the ribeye I had last year, when taking a client out to the highly-rated Bern's in Tampa. Daughter and SIL had bone-in filet, and 6-week dry-aged ribeye, respectively.
Sides (shared): Twice-baked potato (very good); cauliflower sauteed w/garlic and EVOO (not so great, tasted kind of vinegary)
Dessert (just had a couple of bites): Blood orange sorbet and wild strawberry cheesecake (both excellent). Another memorable meal. My daughter and SIL really know how to eat.
Day 4 (last day in the Bay Area): Business in the morning. Then, on my own, the obligatory lunch buffet at Amber India in downtown SF (must have my Butter Chicken fix). Salad, excellent spiced potatoes, a vegetable dish or two, and copious amounts of butter chicken, with naan to scoop up the extra sauce. None of the sides or other mains really grabbed me on this visit, so I was forced to just eat more butter chicken. :o) Some sort of fried honey-dipped thing for dessert; also, a farina halwa (dense cream-of-wheat type stuff, with butter and spices, served warm). Very satisfying and tasty meal overall.
Picked up a few white nectarines from Kashiwase at the mini-farmers market out in front of Amber, for the trip home. Sweet and perfumey.
Next, Molinari's in North Beach to restock our favorite Portuguese canned tuna (As do Mar), and since I was in the neighborhood, picked up some XOX truffles, as well as a couple of orders of the beloved Smoked Ham with Garlic from Brandy Ho's. Last two items went straight into the cooler, destined for Vegas. Since GF was unable to join me on this trip, I figured the least I could do was bring a couple of her favorite delicacies back to her in Vegas.
Dinner: Originally planned to meet old family friends (plus daughter, SIL, and grandson) at B Side BBQ in Oakland, but we made a mutual decision to stay on this side of the bay, due to the freeway-blocking protests over there. More later on the missed BBQ -- for now let's just say I made up for it.
Settled on Fish Market in San Mateo. Shared apps, as usual: I stuck with the smoked albacore and salmon, as I'm not a fan of bivalves. Everyone else seemed to like them fine. As a main, I had breaded and fried petrale with lemon caper sauce, which was good, but in retrospect, a grilled fish would have been better. This meal was about the company, anyway. (well, they all were, really, except for the lunch that day, which was all about me and the butter chicken)
Day 5 (had originally planned to stay another day, but had to return to Vegas for business reasons):
Stopped off at daughter's house for coffee, and to get some time in with grandson, before hopping in the car for the long trip back -- very long, the way I did it -- but not without its high points. Daughter sent me off with a beautiful link of Hungarian sausage from the local farmers market.
To be continued on the California board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910289
Creekside Smokehouse: http://www.creeksidesmokehouse.com/
Norm's Arcangeli: http://www.normsmarket.com/
Swanton Berry Farm: http://www.swantonberryfarm.com/
Dio Deka: http://diodeka.com
Amber India: http://www.amber-india.com
XOX Truffles: http://www.xoxtruffles.com/
Fish Market: http://www.thefishmarket.com/default....
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