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San Francisco Wine pairings

Dinner in the City, II: A Summer Menu

August 27, 2007

We’ve enjoyed dinner with my friend Peter before, but about two weeks ago I worked hard (read: begged) for another home cooked meal in the city.

Friend and I headed from Berkeley to the city for pre-show dinner at Peter’s (we were to catch the MF Doom/Pigeon John performance at the Independent, but when we arrived later it was canceled), and brought gifts of Berkeley Bowl’s fresh buckwheat & lemon pastas–saving someone who lives in the city a trip to the famous Berkeley Bowl, I’ve now learned, will almost always earn me a delicious meal.

Peter’s food is especially fun to write about because he has taken to obsessively photographing almost everything he eats or makes these days. This is helpful for me, as inevitably I almost always begin copying and making variations upon the dishes he creates when I’m lucky enough to join him for a meal.

Friend & I brought a bottle of Bucci’s Verdiccio (a native Italian varietal especially from the southern regions, it is somewhat similar to a Vermentino except lighter, perhaps more like a blend with Pinot Grigio) and the first course was slices of a perfectly ripe (California? Organic?) pluot wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma (Peter has read my entry detailing my dislike for domestic prosciutto), served with aged balsamic vinegar I once gave him from my stint of living in Italy, and ricotta seasoned with blood-orange olive oil.

I could have walked away satisfied. Can we take a moment to remember how important using high quality ingredients are? I mean, in addition to the flavor and all-important texture combination, the harmony of the perfectly ripe fruit, the freshly cut ham, and the fresh ricotta made it. Things wouldn’t have been the same if the dried out week old stuff in my fridge had finally been saved from itself. Yes, that was an admittance of recent culinary guilt, on my part.

Next we had a delicious cold layered course of roasted white corn with sesame oil, avocado, mache, and seasoned crab. I was paying more attention to my wine than Peter’s prepping of the crab dressing, but something about olive oil and maybe garlic and some Asian herb he wouldn’t divulge the name of (probably to spite us) were all involved. Wait, his photo says it’s a yuzu and tarragon vinaigrette…was I being tricked all along? I would feel as if my nose failed me :(

Along with other goodies from the East Bay I brought some Burrata–a wonderful fresh cheese similar to mozarella except that it is super creamy and decadent inside and stringy and fresh on the outside like fresh mozarella. It spoils very fast because of the fresh cream, so it is somewhat difficult (read: expensive) to find it imported but since it’s a cow’s milk cheese and a producer of it is in the LA area, it isn’t too expensive or hard to come by in the Bay Area. It is also incredibly addictive and delicious, and peter used it with the avocado and crab to round out the dish.

Because P is master of portion size, we were up for a third course. For a while–in fact, we were salivating for both the crab and the smell of the caramelizing heirloom tomatoes while eating the crab, P sauteed some heirloom tomatoes in olive oil and smashed cloves of garlic, adding chili flakes about halfway through and fresh basil towards the end. He chose traditional semolina spaghetti (often underutilized in my kitchen) and made an incredibly satisfying but healthy dish that reminded me of some of my favorite Italian comfort food. I recreated the heirloom tomato spaghetti a few days later with very little effort and wonderful results. The only thing I”ll offer you readers is this: Do not cook the garlic on too high of a heat, and make sure to add the pepper flakes when there is enough fluid for them to break down in.

Bellies full, friend and I skipped off to walk a few blocks to our show, leaving P wish only a few dishes and his cello. We were actually kind of happy to arrive and see it was canceled–we looked at each other, and said “Dessert?” at the same time, and started heading to get some chocolate ice cream from the store. We called P, and as soon as we said the show had been canceled, he was on the same page as us.

No pictures of this one, but it’s something I ‘ve had with P before and he stole it from some place I can’t remember in the city. Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Bergamont Olive Oil and Sea Salt. Oh_my_god.

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