Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Paradise by the (Oyster) Bay

The moment we planned our trip the Bay Area, I began plotting to eat as many oysters as possible. I was dreaming of the kind of oysters pulled right out of the water, rinsed, shucked and presented to me tableside within minutes of their demise.

I had a pretty distinct vision, and this vision was realized on a little two-hour detour en route from San Francisco to Napa last weekend.

Mike's friends had suggested a stop at Marshall Store in Tomales Bay. (Have I mentioned how much I love Mike's friends?)

After taking one of the most awe-inspiring drives of my life, we arrived at Marshall Store around 5:00pm on the hungry side; it had been hours since we'd enjoyed a damn fine brunch at Ella's before hitting a museum on the way to the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Marshall Store is one of a half-dozen restaurants touting fresh oysters along the water's edge in this pristine pocket of northern California. They offer four kinds of oysters -- raw, barbecue, Rockefeller and chorizo butter. So what do you do when faced with four choices? You get one of each!

Each half-dozen order came with warm garlic bread, and we threw in a large clam chowder to share. It all came to $60, and it was more than enough food.

I was giddy at the prospect of the chorizo-butter oysters, but in the end, the Rockefellers trumped all. The raw oysters were a close second.

And, well ... wait. Actually, I take that back. What trumped all was the view:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

I love "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." It's one of those Food Network shows I'll just leave playing in the background. (All right, so that's true of most Food Network shows.)

"The Best Thing I Ever Ate" was all I could think about when, after much suggestion-seeking from friends, we settled on R&G Lounge as the one Chinatown restaurant we'd get to visit during our recent San Francisco/Napa weekend.

I knew we'd be ordering the salt-and-pepper crab long before we arrived. The Yelp reviews and photos had me sold from the first Google search. I was open to trying anything else on the menu, but I wanted that crab.

We left our camera in the car, and my iPhone was long dead after a day of walking around the Ferry building and drinks with friends at the Plant Cafe Organic.

Luckily, Mike snapped a shot of the crab on his cell phone before it was all gone. We ordered a couple of other things at R&G that night. And they were good. I just can't remember them right now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Ultimate Gourmand

My dad passed away last week. I won't get into detail; I haven't fully accepted this fact, and recounting any level of detail will only lead to acceptance. I'm just not there yet.

But the one detail I can reveal about my dad is that my love of food comes from him. He was a cook in the Argentine army, he owned a steakhouse for a time while I was in college, and he could make a gourmet meal out of a can of tuna and an old jar of pickles. His handmade pizza was so popular in our community that it was mentioned twice during the eulogies.

My dad inevitably started and ended conversations, in his thick Argentinian accent, with inquiries about a person's favorite foods or restaurants. He taught me that when you meet a Korean college kid, you ask him where he and his friends like to go -- that way you're going to end up at a place where the food reminds them of home and the prices are reasonable. He taught me the importance of owning a couple of good knives and a well-seasoned pizza pan. He taught me to cook things slowly and to be patient, because good food takes time.

When my brother and I cleaned out his office last week, I came across dozens of Gourmet magazines he'd been keeping in the backroom of his store. It is heartbreaking to me that both the magazine and my father are no longer here. I'm going to treat these like some people treat their copies of the King James.

Thanks, Daddy.