Saturday, July 19, 2008

The city called The Cats.

My trip to the San Francisco Bay area was great. I didn't do a whole lot, which was the goal. My BFF lives out there with her boyfriend. They just bought a house in Mountain View. With a pool. Seriously, they're livin' it up, California style. If I had to live in a suburban, small town, Mountain View would be it. It's so pretty, great restaurants, cute shops. It's also very flat, which is nice for bike riding. I ended up as Contractor Wrangler for them while they were having the bottom of the pool refinished. The results were awesome. And the resulting pool party was fun.

I got to see Lil Brotha also. He just started a new job out there at a fancy pants restaurant called Manresa. I was lucky enough to eat dinner there. They have two Michelin stars and three Mobil diamonds...the kid's gone big time. How good was it? Words fail me. We were a party of four and had the tasting menu, mine was vegetarian. It started with a red pepper gelee and a black olive Madelaine. The gelee was like a big gum drop, a little spicy. We then had the strawberry gazpacho, which was not sweet. Next I had a pickled turnip "sashimi" with seaweed ice and theirs was amberjack sashimi. I had a Parmesan churro, which was amazing, while they had a fois gras soup. Up next was The Egg. The Arpege Egg, a lightly poached egg yolk layered with chives, maple syrup, creme fraiche, and sherry vinegar. Seriously, y'all, they could have served me a dozen of those and called it a night. It's served in its shell, which I nearly punctured making sure I extracted all of the Arpege molecules out of it before they took it away. And now I have a recipe. Yee haw!

Now this is the point where what I had and in what order I had it become fuzzy. We had maybe eleven courses all together...all with wine. I think the next course was the "Into the garden" salad, which my brother and I affectionately dubbed "The Tweezer Plate." This was his first chance at cooking with the big kids. This plate is a bunch of vegetables you've never seen before lovingly placed just so over and under some kind of foamy stuff. It was not at all what I expected, but darn tasty. I had a warm soup of cepes mushrooms in a creamy porcini veloute. If I couldn't have had just a dozen of the eggs for dinner, I'd have liked a dozen of these. The best part of this was the presentation. The waiter brought me a bowl with a few of the cepes rolling around and he poured the broth from a tiny Japanese tea ceremony teapot. The dish was divine! I had a dish of roasted potatoes with a red pepper sauce and some creamy sauce I couldn't recognize. This would have been great under it's own circumstances, but next to the superstars like the porcini veloute and the egg, it was merely good. I has a dish with morrells, the tiniest squash blossoms and something else, in lots of butter. It was so good. I had a curried vegetable thing, also good. They had the same thing, but with lamb. I told my brother that I liked it but felt like there was something missing, to which he responded, "yeah, the meat." We has the Gold Dust Peach and basil salad, mine was sans soft shell crab.

The desserts were sublime. The first one was a Napoleon with chocolate, blackberries and cucumber. (You heard me. Cucumber.) For me, blackberries can be a little had to eat because they are usually so tart, but the cukes toned it down. There was a nectarine dessert with sliced fruit, a sorbet and lots of basil. That was good. Manresa ends your dinner the same way they start. We ended with a strawberry gelee and a chocolate Madelaine. During our mint tea, the waiter brought us a house made amaranth truffle. He later escorted us out the door with a giant bowl of house made sea salt caramels.

I know I am leaving something out, but hey, sue me. Towards the end of the meal, I had several wine glasses in front of me. I mean, c'mon, even if I'm having 12 half glasses of wine with dinner, that's enough to make me feel no pain. All in all, the experience at Manresa was better than I thought it would be. And I had high expectations going in. We sat down to dinner at 8:30 and were leaving at 12:30, well after my brother left the kitchen. This dinner was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and the highlight of my trip. If you find yourself in Los Gatos, California, hungry, and with an extra $300 in your wallet, you have to go. I can't adequately describe this meal. There were vegetables I've never seen, tastes I've never tasted, etc. I have never been to a restaurant before where all I told the waited was that I was vegetarian and that dairy was okay. I was not disappointed.

A few days before, Lil Brotha and I went to Los Gatos to walk around. It's really cute and completely loaded. How can I put this? There's enough money in Los Gatos that there is a Lamborghini dealership down the street from the Bentley dealership which is across the street from the Rolls Royce dealership. The Bently dealer was selling Lotuses and Aston Martins too. Not one of them looks like they are hurting for business. When we first parked the car and started to walk, I saw a red Lamborghini (I think) and started to walk over to it to look. My brother said, "We're not going to get very far if you stop at everyone of those." He was right. These cars are to Los Gatos like SUVs are to Raleigh. It's nuts.

I went to San Fran a couple times. On my second trip, I went to Britex. (WARNING: Only Rae may be interested in reading this part) It is a four story fabric store in Union Square. It is just walls and walls of fabric, with giant tables of fabric in between. It was almost overwhelming. I gave up when I finally found a fabric I loved. It was $50 a yard, Liberty of London. I should have known. There was an older man there with a younger man. The younger man was wearing very nice dress pants, a very crisp white button down shirt and a dapper vest presumably from a three piece suit. He had a tape measure peeking out of his pocket and an Italian accent. This guys was so incredibly sexy, it was all I could do to not stare at him. He was the older guy's tailor and they were picking out fabric for him. It's that kind of store. Overall, their fabrics were reasonably priced. I kill to have this be my local fabric store. The button section took up practically the front half of one floor. This place was unbelievable.

The trip was really good. The trip home was a disaster. I will save that for later this afternoon. The local homeless guys woke me up at 6 AM this morning. I think I'm going back to bed now.

No comments: