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Sunday, November 13, 2011

HELLO SAN FRANCISCO

Hello Golden Gate Bridge:

And San Francisco:

By the way, those salt ponds (I think) are always intriguing on the approach to the San Francisco Airport:

But the St. Regis here was disappointing for they had no welcome gift (many Starwood properties on this trip provided a bottle of wine), no evening cocktails, no free breakfast and, amazingly enough for a building only 6 years old, analog television.  The Casa Andina in Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu had high definition, and so did my tent in Tanzania.  The St. Regis is not trying to be antiquish.  High def sets were expensive 6 years ago and I guess the designers probably were trying to cut costs.  But this is the highest end Starwood.  However, the room was fine and there was a great bathtub.

Sunset was just spectacular:


Dinner tonight was at Ame (located in this hotel) with Gerry and Carl Weinberg.  Their son is a chef, whose restaurant is in Walnut Creek.  We first had special cocktails , and I combined a sparkling wine with a Fernet Branca.  Can't think of a snappy name, but just as well, for the combination was almost abominable.  FB, I was told, is the most popular digestive in San Francisco today.  It tastes like something you might have if you had a bad case of bronchitis.  Carl ordered a Haywood Estate Zinfandel, 2006, 14.6%, with our meal, a heavy bodied red from Sonoma.

My first course was a plate of three different sashimis, more like a ceviches, a Peruvian raw fish marinade:

The second serving was a soup:  celeriac and roasted Bartlett Pearl with foie gras tortelloni (shaped like a fortune cookie) and shaved celery.  Mind you, there is tortelloni and tortellini, but this was the former:
It was delicate with some body, a contradiction in terms, but, nevertheless, appropriate.  The taste was particularly flavorful.

Then was, perhaps, the highlight:  broiled sake marinated Alaskan black cod (not to worry, as this specie is not on any endangered list) in shiso broth:
Carl and I ordered the Taste of Ame, and we both raved about this dish.  He drank every drop.  The bread, by the way, was a kind of Italian roll...crispy, yet soft and, well, perfect.  The second entree was a coffee rubbed Berkshire pork loin, chestnut puree, black truffle polenta cake and grilled matsutake mushroom:
Not sure where the coffee made a difference, but I'm getting addicted to truffles, and the combination was delectable.  Gerry ordered individually, and at this point had artisan cheeses:

Carl had three fluffy tea puffs, while I had a trio of sorbets with raspberry and boysenberry, and a cup of cappuccino:
Note the color combination and artistry.

We had a photo taken with the chef of tonight, Leigh Randall:

Ame, of course, is the recent lifework of Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani (they have been married for nearly 30 years), who brought their St. Helena restaurant spirit to the City.  Hiro trained under Paul Bocuse and Joel Robuchon, with initial experience 30 years ago at Spago's in Los Angeles, gaining the James Beard best chef of California award in 2006, while Lissa grew up in Stag's Leap vineyard and began as a pastry chef for Roy Yamaguchi.    Their cuisine can best be characterized as a fusion of California products with French, Italian and Japanese themes.  Gerry, Carl and I very highly recommend Ame.

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