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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

THE FUSION CUISINE OF SAN FRANCISCO

News around the world remain gloomy.  If you want to wallow in doomsday, click on THIS.  Actually, I mostly agree with the analyst.

On the other end of the happy spectrum, last year I had meals at Michelin one star restaurants, Gary Danko and One Market.  Last night it was Anzu (Japanese-European fusion).  Today I walked up Mason to California (try doing that someday), took this photo of the Transamerica Building (it is the tallest building in San Francisco), walked through Grant Avenue (watch Nancy Kwan--incredible quality of a now 50 year old film), Chinatown, and found my way to Tadich Grill, the oldest restaurant in San Francisco, first opening in 1849 around the time of the 49ers when the population of SFO was all of 5,000, but jumped to 25,000 by the end of the year.  No reservations are taken and the ambience is close to a crowded railroad terminal, but this is a Frisco tradition.  If there is any fusion here it is seafood with a cacophonous environment.  It will never get a Michelin star, but they don't care.  I joined, from the left, Bill (who was not falling asleep), Sue and Kathy, acquaintances from my Stanford days:

As always, the place was humming.  I had a fried petrale with a bloody mary and glass of chardonnay.  We missed Jim Seger, who is now in Instanbul.

For dinner, it was Ame in the St. Regis Hotel, which, too, has a Michelin star, and features a fusion of East and West.  Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone of Terra Restaurant in St. Helena moved to San Francisco to create a new kind of American cuisine, blending tastes from southern France, northern Italy and Japan.


I had a flight of sakes:

Tedorigawa kinka junmai dàiginjo from Ishikawa (indicated as flavors of melons,pear and radish--I tasted swamp)
Chikurin karoyaka junmai daiginjo from Okayama (which was supposed to taste of banana, mint, corn husk and dried pineapple--I thought it was sweet)
Otokoyama tokubetsu junmai (hot) from Hokkaido the write-up said cotton, white flowers, popcorn and caramel--for me it was semi sweet.
For the meal itself, a set of appetizers:

  
Fricasse veal sweetbread in a ragout of fava beans and chanterelle 
mushrooms.

  
Chawan mushi of sea urchin, unagi and shiitake with mitsuba sauce (the best of the four).

  
Sauteed foie gras on Napoleon of dashi braised daikon radish and BBQ unagi (right, second best).

  
Tempura poke of two raw tunas with ogo seaweed, Hawaiian sea salt and green onions.
I was well served by Abby and met with Susan Johnston, general manager.

All in all a terrific Japanese fusion restaurant, albeit with an overdose of low density lipoprotein and sodium.  
I had a 7:30 reservation because that was the earliest I could get on the internet.  I showed up at 5:45 anyway (as I wanted to walk back to the Nikko before it got dark), and was allowed in, for I was the first one there.  When I left, all the tables were taken.

Tomorrow, Benu.  Will there be three Michelin stars in the future of chef Corey Lee (he has worked at seven of them in Europe, plus was chef de cuisine at The French Laundry when it was named the best restaurant in America)?

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After a good start today, the Dow Jones Industrials slipped 19 to 12,071.  Will it sink below 12,000 tomorrow?  Read that article referred to above to prepare yourself for the coming crash.  World markets, however, were mostly up, while gold dropped a buck to $1544 and oil remains relatively steady (NYMEX at $99/barrel and Brent Spot at $117/barrel).  Click on this sentence to understand why these prices are different.  There was a time not long ago when they were almost always identical:


Why WTI and not NYMEX?  They are different but not by much.  WTI stands for West Texas Intermediate and NYMEX for New York Mercantile Exchange, with the latter representing a future price of the former, and therefore, they are slightly different, and sometimes more.

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There are two tropical depressions in the Eastern Pacific south of Mexico.  One looms to attain hurricane strength.

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