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Grubs hit Bay! II – Ferry Bldg, Swan, Piperade

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Grubs hit Bay! II – Ferry Bldg, Swan, Piperade

Mr Grub | May 3, 2004 11:40 AM

Started Sat a.m. at Ferry Bldg. Bad omen – bkfst treat was dry, tasteless cinnamon croissant-y thing that set the ol’ Grubster back about 3 bucks. Not sure of name of bakery.

On to Farmer’s Market. Holy Cow! Very impressive indeed. Beautiful veggies & fruit; wide & varied choices for food. As looky-loo tourists, 3 things stood out: visible high quality, jawdropping prices & preciousness of everything. Isn’t there anything available that isn’t free-range, macrobiotic, grass-fed, uberorganic, or hand-raised? A Sabrett’s cart would make a mint….

Sniffed our way past Mistral, but drawn irresistibly back & in, where we had a real bkfst (at about 10:00) – sweetbreads in an herb-y white sauce & a few sauteed artichokes. About $10 – the same as a couple of those vacuum-hatched, antibacterial apples outside would have cost.

Lunch at Swan Oyster Depot (on a SF hound tip). Pescadora Gruba’s darlin’ butt never touched her stool as she rapturously polished off the best crab salad (I guess one dasn’t say “Louie” at Swan) she ever consumed, including those of her childhood memories while living in SF. Gruberoo’s oyster slurping went very well also. Had several varieties – each better than the last.

Swan crab salad superior in every way to that at Tadich Grill, wolfed the prior day. Grubber’s Tadich monkfish special, however, was indeed special in every way & way beyond Swan’s ways & means.

Goal for SF meals was to eat at places unlike those in our home base, LA. First dinner was a homerun at Piperade. (No upscale Basque places in LA.) Great warm & inviting space totally appropriate to the cuisine. Love the long bar where, having arrived a bit early, we happily sat savoring our first bottle of Basque wine w outstanding & surprisingly creamy bacalao fritters until our table was ready, in all of, oh, 10 mins on a busy Sat nite.

At table, started by sharing foie gras & squid. A revelation. Who the hell knew fg & squid could be paired so beautifully? For whatever reason, the perfectly seared foie gras & the squid both reveled in the sauce & tickled the palate. Sometimes Los Grubbos think chefs throw unlike substances together for the sheer joy of being outre wo, say, tasting what they have created. Mostly doesn’t work. This worked beautifully.

So happy w starter was El Grubbo, I ordered two more for dinner: Serrano ham & piquillo peppers stuffed w chevre, raisins, & pignoli. Peppers were another homerun, perfectly conceived, prepared, & presented. Lovely mix of flavors & textures. Ham only disappointment of meal. US Serrano is just plain underwhelming. Should have asked if imported to find out “no” before rather than after ordering.

La Linda Grubba scored the axou (?), the veal stew special. For her, close to Nirvana. Ate every bit & sopped the plate clean w Piperade’s delightful breads.

Desserts were also both terrific: walnut gratin (decadently sweet) & gateau Basque, a rather light almond/marzipan cake.

Two bottles of Basque regional wine (did I mention we left a bit before dawn, by forklift?): a less-than-successful edgy Etregaraya (?) & a smooth & full Allende rioja.

Service was impeccable & very friendly, from the hostess ("friendly hostess" is an oxymoron in LA), to the bartender to the serving staff, especially our gracious & informed (another LA rarity) waiter.

All of this for about $150 before tip. The Grubs are Piperade fans for life.

Great chow day by the bay.

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