{ metropolis devoured }
a tribute to my san francisco

3/4 oz scotch whiskey
3/4 oz local politics
1/4 oz public policy
1/4 oz disaster preparedness
1/2 oz alamo square

Shake over neighborhood dives & venues, strain into a chilled cocktail dress, garnish with a sprig of gov 2.0, and serve.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Local seafood ups and downs...

It's time to debunk the pearl of wisdom imparted on us by elementary school teachers everywhere: you can't judge a book by its cover, widely interpreted to mean that you don't know what something will be like until you personally experience it. Fact 1: if you let your publisher slap an ugly or cliche cover on your precious work of art, you likely did not have the straight common sense to create a masterpiece to begin with. More relevant to my experience this weekend, Fact 2: if you're in a restaurant full of people you would not normally eat with, stop right there and walk on out, you should not be eating there. Don't even bother giving the very vague menu a second chance, just cut your losses and move on.

On Saturday my lovely roommate and I decided to head out of town for the morning/afternoon, concluding our day in Sonoma's hills and fields with a lunch in Bodega Bay. Maybe it was the fact that we were completely starving that made us overlook the fact that The Tides was full of old folks, who generally tend to have a palate for bland food... maybe it was the grim but peaceful grey bay sprawling under our window, with a lone bird perched atop something that looks like it was once part of a boat. Maybe just bad judgement. Maybe we wanted to give our spoiled-by-eating-in-San-Francisco tongues a break. Bad decision! The wooden fish decor should've tipped us off. Say, what kind of a crab sandwich can you get for $22? Let me tell you: two pieces of sourdough bread, topped with a shredded crab/mayo mixture, a slice of tomato, and melted with cheese. A total waste of fresh crab, if you ask me. Crab cakes? Kind of burned, and served with a giant pool of the oiliest marinara I've ever had, a wilted leaf of lettuce, and a $13 price tag.

What was I expecting from a place that has children's menus printed on a fish-shaped cardboard? Or a place that has so many kids in it, to begin with...

I bet this place rocked back when it looked like this...

So, lesson learned, we went back to the good ol' city, a box with half a crab sandwich and one and a half crab cakes went into the fridge to most likely never be eaten, and I went to pre-game at Fresca in Noe Valley for a sea food experience that doesn't involve giant dollops of mayo, people asking for cream soda, or noisy children. Young adults and real adults alike were dressed up in that casual SF way we all know and love (meaning, I changed out of my flip flops and did something special to my hair, so consider me ready for public), sangria was not too sweet and being poured liberally, and food came out at the perfect time: just as the pitcher was getting empty.

If you're a pescaterian, or just a lover of ceviche like I am, you won't be disappointed with the variety on the menu. The plates that seem small when they come out are actually deceptively filling. When they say "jumbo", they mean jumbo. You can get a sampler of 3 to 5 different ceviches, each with its own distinct sauce that compliments the fresh and delectable protein: coconut milk with jalapeno, chives and Andean corn for lobster and crab; squid ink sauce, cilantro and rocoto aji for prawns and halibut; jalapeno, soy, white truffle oil, and Andean corn for the hamachi.

Andean corn is a biodiverse and sustainably farmed crop brought to us by the Slow Food movement. It's larger, meatier and more starchy than the sweet corn we usually eat in the States, with a texture and taste that don't interfere with a strong tasting sauce, but provide a much needed solid balance. The rocoto aji is a type of "very hot" pepper native to Peru and Bolivia, and a staple ingredient in all traditional and modern Peruvian kitchens. Together with cilantro, ever present in Latin cooking, the three ingredients form the base of all Peruvian cuisine.

The devil's in the details, folks, and a good restaurant will always remember this... not try to compensate for volume with whipped mayonnaise. So lesson for today: if you wouldn't want to be friends with your co-diners, quickly find an alternate solution to your hunger.

P.S. Rest in peace Tastespotting, you provided me with hours of amazing gastronomic day dreams. May you sleep well in internet heaven, nestled in the soft bosom of every other lost internet phenomenon. However, please welcome Food Gawker to the scene; FG, please live up to the shoes you're here to fill.



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