Monday, December 03, 2007

Farewell to (Skinny) Arms at Farallon

I am trying to get out the last of my old-old-old San Francisco posts out by the end of the year, and I still have about ten more to go. When I sift through my backlog, it makes me feel good to relive (and simultaneously lament about the end of) my food experiences in San Francisco.

One post I have been meaning to get out for a while now, involves a meal that I shared with four of my closest friends. They wanted me to end my time in San Francisco with style. And thus, they treated me out to a dinner at
Farallon, a San Francisco restaurant renowned for its distinctive interpretation of seafood, or "coastal cuisine," and its glistening blown-glass chandeliers, artfully sculpted into illuminated jellyfish chandeliers-of-sorts. Believe the hype, being in the restaurant really makes you feel like you are "under the sea," (to steal a line from Sebastian the crab).

Would you hate me if I just half-heartedly published a lackluster post with a bare-bones description of my meal at Farallon?

Bring on the hate.

First, as a flirtatious and tempting starter, the server brought us little porcelain spoonfuls of a preliminary amuse-bouche--a silky dollop of smoked salmon mousse. The piercing, smoky flavors of mesquite saturated the foamy mousse, and the mousse was delicately garnished with springy chive ringlets and droplet-sized puddles of extra virgin olive oil. It nicely whetted my appetite for what was to come.

My friends and I started with a tartlet that touted the inclusion of roasted yellow nectarines, Laura Chenel chevre, toasted almond slivers, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. The tartlet arrived at our table looking like a blistered puff pastry mattress with rotund ice-cream scoopful of chevre on the top. The supple nectarines looked like stewed tomatoes, oddly orbiting the tartlet. The tartlet itself sat squarely atop a nest of wilted Sausalito springs watercress. Despite the odd appearance, every element of the appetizer was packed with flavor: from the chevre to the watercress, and the roasted nectarines! The roasted nectarines stood head and shoulders above the rest of the dish.

We also shared an appetizer of rouget stuffed with wild mushrooms and served in a coconut lemongrass sauce with English peas and sweet fennel. I was interested in tasting the fusion elements of the dish, but the licorice-flavored fennel and English peas did not stimulate or ignite my taste buds as much as I anticipated, because they were a little drowned out by the coconut-lemongrass sauce. However, the pungent, fishy flavor of the rouget paired pleasantly with the thick coconut milk-based sauce. My only discontent with the dish lies in the fact that the portion was a little small (as you can tell from the picture--look at the peas to get an idea). While the rough skin of rouget was calloused like a brillo-pad, it provided much needed exfoliation for my tongue, so I actually liked that element.

For my main course, I ordered seared Maryland striped bass with steamed Manila clams, house-made fettuccine, and French butter. A variety of dry spices had been encrusted and seared into the skin of the bass, and it was moist and flavorful. I really enjoyed the fettuccine and chewy clams. The chef at Farallon took a minimalist approach to the pasta, and in doing so, the chef drew my attention to the sweet, milkiness of the French butter, the subtle nuttiness in the tangled tendrils of fettuccine.

My friends ordered seared Alaskan halibut with sweet corn soubise, summer beans, and roasted cherry tomatoes;

Cast iron seared local king salmon with bacon roasted brussel sprouts, celery root puree, beurre rouge; and

Grilled maine diver scallops, white corn, black-eyed peas, and roasted bacon;

To end our evening, we shared two desserts, including two deep-fried raspberry plum pies cloaked with granulated sugar. The pies came with vanilla raspberry swirl ice cream and a divine zinfandel raspberry caramel sauce. The berry-plum filling inside pies was a little sour for my taste, however, the dessert sauce provocatively merged (1) the almost-fleeting fruitiness of zinfandel wine and raspberries with (2) the milky, deep, and long-lasting flavors of caramel. I learned that night that I would like zinfandel raspberry caramel sauce on everything, including spaghetti and cold cereal.

We also ordered the warm flourless el rey chocolate cake with expresso ice cream, cocoa praline nibs, and mocha sauce. When I bit into the warm chocolate cake, I was surprised that little praline granules crunched in between my teeth like the sugary crystals in pop rocks. The gooey and oozing cake and luscious ice cream were imbued with sweet coffee flavors.

As I finish up this post, I realize that I don't wanna say farewell to Farallon. I never knew ye!

Hee, as you can tell, I got tired towards the end and cut down on the descriptiveness. . . . Okay, another San Francisco post down, nine more to go!


  1. PE, your posts always seem some satisfying, even in condensed version! BTW, I had a farewell dinner at Farallon years ago too when I left SF for New York, but then of course I came back. But I still have memories of that good bye dinner too, so I'm sure yours will last awhile too. The decor is funky huh?

  2. I had been to Farallon only once but can't seem to recall any food I had there. The thing about this kind of fine dining is that after a while, every restaurant tastes the same to me. I still remember the taste of Aqua (my first fine dining in SF) in my mouth, but has since forgotten most restaurants after that. :P

  3. holy cow - those are amazing photos! I love Farallon - we went there for our farewell to SF dinner before we moved to FL

  4. PE, it all looks so good. I especially like the look of that Bass and clam combo. I would order that too!
    I really miss good seafood here. There is a good fresh seafood restaurant owned by Rick Stein in Padstow, Cornwall. It has wonderful seafood but it is a long way away from me.
    When I lived in Seattle, the seafood was so easy to get and delicious too. Oh the good food times...

  5. Is so yummy that I can smell the food literally.

  6. deep fried raspberry plum pies?!?! that so has my name on it. agg this is going to be on my mind all day now.

  7. The food looks so yummy. Can't wait to taste them. Keep up the good work.

  8. heehee I love tongue exfoliation! your descriptions are so inspiring that I think I need to make reservatons today...

  9. The scallops look really great!

  10. Zinfandel raspberry caramel sauce?! Count me in!

  11. oh can i join your circle of friends?

    Helpful Hint: search restaurant reviews and recipes from your mobile phone with Boopsie.

  12. I really enjoy reading your blog, it's fun to see the world without having to leave Minnesota!

  13. Wow, that looks absolutely fabulous, and that is coming from a New Englander on seafood.

  14. Wow, I probably would have started with dessert! Do you have a great salmon recipe? If so, check out the salmon recipe contest - the grand prize is 15 Pounds of Wild Salmon (in three separate 5-lb. shipments). Deadline to enter is tomorrow at midnight!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I read and enjoy every comment, and will try to reply if time permits. If you have a blog, please leave a link. I love to discover new and delicious sites!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...