The prix-fixe program titled "Dine About Town" is finally here in San Francisco for the month of January! If you are from San Francisco or the Bay Area, or if you were a reader of mine back in 2006, you might know about the Dine About Town program. The premise of Dine About Town is that San Francisco's famed restaurants steeply discount their regularly lofty prices to entice locals to come and patronize their lagging businesses during the slow tourist season. This year, the beau and I took advantage of the program, to celebrate how my blog has been featured as one of Blogger's Blogs of Note!
We decided to enjoy a leisurely brunch at Campton Place in the Union Square district of San Francisco. Allow me to describe our meal in detail, so that you may be transported to San Francisco and taste the same flavors that I did this morning.
My beau started with the kampachi sashimi with blood orange, which featured black trumpet mushrooms and Szechuan peppercorns. Szechuan peppercorns are known for their subdued, almost citrus-like flavors. Szechuan peppercorns are not as fiery as the regular spicy peppercorns that are traditionally used in Western cuisine. Although I didn't personally taste the peppercorns, I was able to taste one slice of my beau's sashimi. Unfortunately, the raw fish was surprisingly soggy and disappointingly gelatinous. It wasn't firm like the sashimi found in high-end Japanese restaurants. The sashimi dish was accompanied by a dollop of foamy puree that tasted almost like a blended emulsion of strawberries, but the "red stuff" was touted in the menu as actually being made of blood orange.
I started with the creamy celery root soup. Tiny, cubed squares of celery root floated gently in the viscous bisque and the soup was topped with poached cauliflower florets. The soup was infused with ras al hanout, a Moroccan spice mixture that is comprised of the finest, most aromatic ingredients that a spice merchant can offer, and was drizzled with olio nuovo, a green-hued extra virgin olive oil that is imbued with pungent and sweet olive flavors.
My second course was the Fulton Valley Farms chicken breast. The chicken breast meat was good, but I honestly wasn't that impressed. It tasted exactly like the chicken that I can purchase from the Chinese barbecue joint on the corner of Chinatown for less than $5.00 bucks. Yes, the skin was crispy and the white breast meat relatively juicy, but nothing worthy of "high-end restaurant praise." However, I was impressed by the tender sunchoke quarters, for not an fibrous centimeter existed on the perfectly pruned and groomed artichoke bodies. The maitake mushrooms that accompanied the dish reminded me of chantrelles or enoki mushrooms, because the mushrooms were presented in natural bundles of spaghetti-thin stems and tiny mushroom caps. The mushrooms had sponged up the intense beefy flavors of the deglazed chicken au jus and the nettle puree that adorned the plate of my dish. Finally, the entire dish was decorated with three satisfyingly bitter, mandoline-thin slices of raw watermelon radish.
My beau ordered tai snapper for his second course. His snapper fell off into fish flakes when prodded with a fork and was gently wrapped in a crisp, crackly, and caramelized fish skin. The snapper included the side components of cauliflower, erbette chard, and lemon consomme.
Finally, both the beau and I ended our meal with a classic, non-pretentious sundae with oval scoops of malted ice cream (which had a powerful malt overtones reminiscent of Ovaltine) and a rich chocolate sorbet. The two supple spoonfuls were accompanied by a candy-stripe drizzling of viscous caramel and broken crumbles of hazelnut praline.
As we polished off our elaborate three-course prix-fixe meal, my beau and I gave each other high-fives in the air. Our meal had the dual purpose of celebrating Blogs of Note and San Francisco's Dine About Town program! In other words, it was a resounding success!
I hope this post has inspired you to take advantage of the special restaurant programs in your city or even to cook an elaborate meal so that you can enjoy the pleasures of passionate eating!