I am in the west coast of the US promoting Plenty, with a very (!) full schedule kindly provided by the adorable people at Chronicle, my American publisher. Cramming in one short day enough eating to last anyone else half a lifetime is my form of art. And so far, I have kept my standards pretty high.
Upon landing, literally, I was taken by childhood friend Yoni to Mission Chinese Food, a kind of grubby pop-up restaurant that has seemed to have turned permanent with a cult following of immense magnitude. By 7pm there were at least 20 people queuing outside, and more to arrive shortly. They don’t take bookings so queuing is the only way. And it is well worth it.
Despite the too-cool-for-school style of chefs, servers and many diners, the food is dead serious. Our most loved were the pork belly with soy cured eggs and cucumber, the tea-smoked eel rolls with pulled ham hock and the lamb and fresh noodle soup in a tingly broth. The flavours are massive (!) and that’s a lot, coming for me, but almost always perfectly-balanced. I would have tried everything on the menu, if I only could, but, alas, stomach capacity and jet-lag were creeping up on me, slowly but very surely.
Yesterday, Tuesday, was my first day of proper working (well, at least I call it work). Interview at Il Cane Rosso in the ferry building was over an egg sandwich, but not any old egg sandwich. I am talking a sumptuous take on the theme with a warm salad made with anchovy butter and capers, served on a very crunchy bread slice.
Next was a selection of macaroons from [link https://www.miette.com/ Miette], also in the ferry building. These were not the fancy French style of Pierre Herme and Laduree, but more naturally looking and tasting. The hazelnut and chocolate won a resounding yes.
Dinner was hosted by the charming Elan and Brett Emerson at their Contigo restaurant, a mega-popular place that is talked about all over town for its perfectly executed Barcelona inspired tapas. Elan and Brett were too good natured to stand up to the relentless pressures from Celia Sack of Omnivore Books, the most charming book shop I have ever seen, who took it upon herself to force me on all the best restaurants in town. So they hosted a most delicious meal inspired by Plenty. Such an honour!
Thank you Celia, Thank you Brett, Thank you Elan - And what a night!
Here’s just a few of the highlights:
Wood oven roasted Monterey sardine and avocado toast with pickled onion and smoked salt
Smashed corn on sourdough toast with La Quercia speck, Idiazbal cheese and peimentos de padron
Local king salmon baked on a fig leaf with summer beans, samphire, mustard seeds, tarragon and allioli
Must I continue?