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Brief notes from recent SF trip

Limster | Jan 9, 200401:59 AM

No major finds here, just some old favourites and new spots that have appeared on the board since my last visit.

Spicey pastor at El Castillito is tinged with all kinds of sharp and complex flavours, ever so gently crisp against the coolness of finely chopped tomatoes in the salsa topping the taco.

25 cents for a serious piece of dense crumbly and slightly sweet bun at the bakery counter of a nearby Guatemalan place. Good cheap deal.

Falafels at Ali Baba's seemed rather big (something like 1.5-2 inches in diameter) and had been around for a little bit, the crust a heavy sesame-loaded crunch, instead of a lacy crisp. Still satisfying against the chilly raw onions.

Canelles and other things are as I remember at Boulange de Cole.

Enjoyable crepe at Chez Maman, filled with nutella (warmed on the griddle) and bananas.

Dulce de Leche gelato suprised with its seamlessly smoot texture at Tango. Also a very good coconut. But missed the marron glace.

Chocholate tart at Tartine was filled with a luxuriant ganache, dark as night, and rimmed with hazelnuts. Good flavour in the valrhona hot chocolate, a nice rendition of thin milky chocolateness, even though I still much prefer the richness of the deep dense ones at places LA Burdicks and Jacque Torres.

Hama-Ko was as wonderful as ever, with deeply rendered clarity in each piece of fish. Ankimo is still as silky and seductive as ever. Uni was one of the better ones I've had there. I've been spoilt there and might quibble about the extra speck of wasabi under the glistening crystalline pieces of tai, but otherwise a meal as good as any I've had there.

Wasn't sure about pairing the same wine with both cheese and dessert at EOS (and didn't want to drink too much), so decided to use the more "neutral" tannins of a fine pot of English Breakfast tea. It went swimmingly against a fantastically rich Pierre Robert, a brilliant white, as soft as stiff cream, with a pleasant whiff of pungence. Thin precise slices of fig and walnut breads, sweet sticky dates, and glazed almonds accompanied the cheese, the fruit and nut fitting in comfortably with the tea as well.

The subsequent mango mousse (more like a quivering panna cotta in consistency) also took naturally to the tea, enlivening it with its bright fruit, rolling it along with the sharps of raspberry, the air of thin wisps of mint and the rounded tones of mango and mango sauce. Also a crumbly tuile for textural contrast.

Loved the pure flavours of the cheese and sweet caramelized onion and bell peppers on a slice of Arizmendi's. Such dedication to ingredients. Miss it terribly.

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