Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hot times in the City

It really was hot here. Here. I mean in San Francisco. No, really, stop laughing at me... It's not funny. I got an actual real-honest-to-goodness sunburn.

'Course it's not hot right now. Overnight it dropped forty degrees and the fog rolled in. Now I'm wearing the socks and a woolly sweater that would have seemed unthinkable yesterday. Welcome to Summer Solstice in San Francisco.

But I do love those gorgeous clear blue days -- it almost makes it seem like we're living in California, that is, the kind of California you see in movies.

We were up early for a Saturday morning and since neither of us had anything scheduled for once (!!) we ventured out to run some food errands. As usual on days like this, pretty much the entire day revolved around the question "What are we going to have to eat?" Sometimes I think we're hobbits. Under ordinary circumstances, (i.e. when we're not ill) we finish breakfast and then we're on to second breakfast. "What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper?"

First stop was the eternal fave, Swan Oyster Depot (1517 Polk St at California, 415-673-1101) It's been featured in so many magazines and shows now that I guess it's not a secret anymore, but it's still the best place to go to get fresh fish, crab, shrimp, oysters, you name it.

The 96-year old Swan's is still run by the same family, the Sanciminos. The guys are terrifically chatty and have tons of great ideas if you're ever at a loss as to how to cook the fish you just bought. My Omnivore went in to order some salmon for us to smoke in our stovetop smoker,while I pressed my little nose against the window and marvelled at the scallops.

Off to the Embarcadero for a Saturday morning round at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. We arrived pretty late in the morning, which always means the place is just completely overrun. For a second it looks vaguely like Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin"-- old woman with packages, baby carriage, bags, mother, baby carriage, saber-wielding Cossack--everyone, get out of my way!

Ahem. Neverthless, it doesn't prevent me from enjoying walking around ogling the produce. Note Far West Funghi not only has porcinis (the one small box seems sad compared to the vast mounds we saw in the San Lorenzo market in Florence), and sea beans (the same samphire that I so desperately searched for to add to our Water course when we made our Elements dinner).

Newly opened on Sunday is Chris Cosentino's Boccalone, selling his own line of cured salumi, including the Orange and Wild Fennel, plus pork lomo, guanciale and prosciuttos.

"Tasty Salted Pig Parts" is their motto. You can find Boccalone in pockets around the city including Cosentino's place, Incanto as well as Falletti's, but it's nice to know you can come down here to get exactly what you need.

There's also something viscerally pleasing about peering into the fridge and staring at all that lovely salumi.

Well-lighted, I notice. Ah, the Theah-tah...

Outside, the action is frenzied and sweaty as the crowd of hungry souls swell to purgatorial proportions and the heat crawls up to inferno. We wander around to some of our favorite proprietors though, including Dirty Girl, where we pick up some of the cutest baby turnips you've ever seen, Frog Hollow to test out Gold Dust peaches for some much-needed peach ice cream, and Della Fattoria, to say hi to Ed, who plies us with goodies, including an absolutely delectable almond financier. Perfect for our Elevenses. We'll catch up with them next weekend when we head up to the Della ranch for the Bread Expedition.

Over at the Marin Sun Farms stand, I'm entranced by the basket of homespun yarn in natural colors. Do I have time to pick up my knitting again? Hmm... Then my attention is drawn down to the coolers below the basket.


Pastured chickens, feet up in a curious forest of claw-branches.

We're sorely tempted but try to focus in. We have a plan for dinner, and we have to stick to it. But, boy, those chickens are probably super-tasty.

Sigh.

Outside of their tent, they have a handy diagram of a cow and the cuts of a cow, so you can point to what you want when conferring with the butcher.

"If you please, something from the butt-cheek region, my good man..."

After some arduous food testing, we were ready for luncheon. We pop our goods into the handy cooler in the car and head up the street to Gordon Biersch for a beer/margarita and a burger with garlic fries. Oddly enough, I've never eaten there before, although I do admit that I've consumed my fair share of garlic fries at the ballpark.

Things were slightly surreal at the "Check in with the Hostess" desk. The place wasn't terribly crowded, we were the only ones waiting at the door and the cafe had several open tables in the back, but the hostess duly wrote down our names and handed us the remote control buzzy-thing. "I'll buzz you when your table is ready. Oh, I see-- I guess OUR table isn't ready, it's just those OTHER tables that are ready.

So we stood there, trying not to stare as she threaded her way through the empty tables and then brushed past us, headed back to her desk where she hit the button that set off the buzzy-thing. Feeling more than a little silly, we walked over to the desk and said, "Um, you buzzed?"

Wth a perfectly straight face, she took it, turned off the buzz, and then led us to one of those empty tables.

My Omnivore, deep in contemplation of...

The Bay Bridge. Yeah, the view is pretty nice from there.

Luncheon over, we turn our attention to afternoon tea.




Back at home, the Aperol comes out and the nice splashy refreshing spritzes hit the glass. I think this is one of our favorite concepts brought back from Italy. It's made that much better by the zing of seltzer from our Liss. I love that thing.

Some addictive shelling peas make a not-too-guilt-inducing snack. I could eat several pounds of them, and um, I think I did.

To this we added a little antipasto of anchovies wrapped in Meyer lemon slices.

The anchovies this time seem super salty -- and the whole effect of this power-packed tidbit is to make my face and my brain reel wildly--SALTY! SOUR! SALTY! SOUR! I CAN'T STOP EATING THEM!

And onward to dinner!

A little vinaigrette of orange (supremed very neatly, if I do say so myself), a 1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion, a teaspoon or so of chopped fresh ginger, some chopped cilantro, a couple of tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, bit of sugar, salt and pepper and mix well with your fingers.

We put this over some salmon smoked with alder chips, torn butter lettuce, slice baby turnips and more shelling peas.

A perfect dinner for a hot night.

Now, about supper...

1 comment:

Eric Wayne said...

Hey! Were not just a couple of fat little Hobbits... I mean BOTH of us were sick all week, so a little stuffing our faces on Sat to catch up for lost sick weight.. we deserved it! Nay, it was medically necessary! Yea, that's it.