May 20, 2008

Forget Bay to Breakers, last week was like my own personal culinary and cocktail marathon—I was out late enjoying the warm nights, SF Cocktail Week activities like bourbon and bacon dinners, an albariño wine tasting, and then Sunday night was the annual Meals on Wheels event, a stellar showcase for local culinary talent that's downright mind boggling. Just eating and sipping your way through the cocktail reception is daunting enough, knowing a three-course dinner is quickly coming up. Fan favorites included the duck tostadas from Zuni (oh yeah), the fava bean, marinated feta and mint flatbreads from Terzo, and Justin Deering of Conduit's oxtail tortellini. (Have you had that dish at the restaurant yet? It's a winner).

This year the organizers let the press go behind the scenes and watch the chefs prepare and plate their courses; it's quite the set, a sea of white, both jackets and dishes. I was fortunate to eat an appetizer by Stuart Brioza of Rubicon. It was scallop, geoduck clam, and kampachi with an avocado "soup" and tangerine gelatina that had a chili kick—I realized it was the dish I'd been craving the entire hot week. Our table's menu continued with a savory chicken and pancetta crespelle with spring peas from Nate Appleman of A16, and some of the best beef I'd had in ages, a serving of Wagyu prepared by Douglas Keane of Cyrus. (If anyone is curious about all the individual menus, dishes, and chefs, I've posted a copy of the dinner menu here—rubberneck away.)

And once dinner wrapped up, it was back to the main room for the biggest Candyland display of dessert. Was thrilled to be able to try pastry chef William Werner's latest creations from his new venture, polite persuasion, and the mouthful of strawberry goat cheese cream tart from Boulevard's Jessica Sullivan was a delight. Ditto on the springtime sweet of roasted cherries, cornmeal shortcake, and fromage blanc by Michelle Polzine of Range. Perfect finish. And I was finished. Let's just say Monday was salad day. I think Tuesday will be too. Didn't have the final numbers, but thus far, Fund-A-Route alone brought in over $308,000, almost a 50% increase over 2007! That's fantastic news for such an important organization. Congratulations and thanks to all whom were involved in putting on this mega event.

Since we're on dessert… it's crazy how many emails I got from folks last week who also remember the warm chocolate brioche cake from Rumpus that I mentioned. I'm obviously not the only one with fond memories of that decadent dessert. I decided I needed to do a shout-out and see if anyone out there has access to the recipe? I'd love to reprint it here!

Gratefully yours,