Archive for us – bay area

In Remembrance of Ubuntu (Napa)

Every hobby is a personal journey pinned with landmarks – a map of changing interests. One a-ha moment came in Laguiole, as it probably has for so many others, where the countryside was served inside a spaceship. It was the salad that launched a thousand more. The grassy aromas, the sharp tastes of herbs – epiphanies – every bite. Meat, for all its base satisfaction, was boorish when compared to this mere salad. Drab. And then, a few years later, a hot Napa afternoon changed everything again – Feed Me the Spring.1


Michel Bras is in the DNA – carrot and nasturtium pays homage to his plating style

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Atelier Crenn (SF) – Enchanting

After a few amuses, an expectation stretched, flavor combinations dared, the downbeat of molecular meals drops – and it always pops! One bite, as always instructed, where the slightest resistance breaks with an explosion of flavor, its startling intensity foreshadows more surprise. Jaws clench down, cartoon eyes bulge, and smiles expand – a collective we have been waiting for this! At Atelier Crenn, the Kir Breton, served as the final amuse, pops with intense cool apple cider and sparkles as it engulfs the mouth – appearances are deceiving and the unpredictable fun.


Kir Breton

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Saison (SF) – The Dry-Aged Summer

When the perfect storm descends, I asked Chef Joshua Skenes, let me seek sanctum at your kitchen counter. Three proteins – shrinking and intensifying – black arts based on basic principles – were near a convergence point. By land, sea, and air. Welcome to a meal of waxy 7-day fish, 50-day Epoisses pigeon, and fruity 120-day beef. It was not so much a “tasting menu” as a “tasting” menu – a glimpse into new possibilities for Saison.

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Smith – a Jeremy Fox pop-up

How many times have you tasted perfection? Sprouting peas, tender and delicately sweet, welcome Spring to the Bay Area when they pop up on menus everywhere. It was no different at Ubuntu except that Jeremy Fox created a masterpiece out of these tiny harbingers, showcasing them in a Michelin 3-star-worthy dish. Seductive, with a crisp burst of minty punctuation, his peas and white chocolate dish is one of the great Spring-time signatures. Smith popped up at the end of Spring – would Fox prepare the peas too?

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Sawa (Bay Area) – Sashimi Heaven

Tucked along a particularly post-modern stretch of Silicon Valley,1 Sawa sits next to a Subway with its shades drawn, lights dimmed, and a Closed sign that pauses even the most intrepid eaters. Circumstance or calculation, the anti-business practices have fed into the mythology of this most incongruous of American fine dining restaurants. All is not what it seems in Santa Clara. Sitting down, the Sapporo-branded laminated sushi menu greets you with cross-cultural irony – or test. California roll?

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