When I last left off, I had been talking about the Museum of Modern Art. The day before, I went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum to see the art of Maurice Sendak.
I admit I was a bit hesitant about going to the CJM. I am not religious at all (atheist, in fact) and I was worried it was going to be heavy on issues I really didn't want to think about on vacation. I know that sounds shallow, but I can't be all things for all people.
I thought I was just going to look at kid's art, but it turns out that Maurice Sendak is very "serious." His work is heavily influenced by growing up in New York, but the Holocaust casts a long shadow as well, as he lost several aunts and uncles and cousins. The museum did a fabulous job breaking down his influences and themes and the fact that he always had an "other story" hiding behind the main thread of his stories. It was wonderful to get to see his final drawings and sketches and dummy books up close. The details in his ink and watercolor illustrations are astounding. Quite a few listening stations were set up where there was video of Sendak discussing his work methods and inspirations, but I never got to hear any of them as school children were visiting the museum en masse and those cheeky monkeys were constantly hogging the earphones.
Food, Glorious Food
OK, enough with the art in San Francisco. On to the food. The glorious food. I have to do a big shout out to blog reader Cyndi who sent me a page long email detailing places to go and where to eat. It was from her that I discovered Tartine Bakery and La Mar.
Tartine Bakery is a fabulous, funky bakery in the Mission District. I had a "Croque Monsieur"--an open face sandwich with smoked Niman Ranch ham and gruyere and bechamel sauce and oh, man, was that delicious.
La Mar is a swanky Peruvian import down on the waterfront (Pier 1 1/2) To start we had a skirt steak skewer and shellfish and fish empanadas. We asked our waiter for the stinkiest Ribero Del Duero wine they had and then he recommended for dinner the short ribs to go with the wine. We have a new term for delicious meat falling apart and melting in your mouth: Meat Butter. This was Meat Butter at its finest.
I was plagued most of the trip by awful blisters from wearing my new shoes too long and so the second night we were there I only wanted to go to a restaurant near the hotel. Looking online for a wine bar downtown, I found First Crush. Their website is cheesy with animation and music and a little over the top but the wine flights looked good so we went to eat in their bar. I am glad we did. The bartender was helpful and on top of it. The Red Vines Flight with Tempranillo, Barbera, and Zinfandel (all CA wines) was delicious and stinky, the way I like my red wine. And the food, oh, the bar food there is fantastic. Mac and cheese with lobster and topped with panko. Beet and jicama salad with pistachio puree and goat cheese. Pasilla peppers stuffed with cheese and fried and served with creme fraiche. My mouth is watering thinking about it.
I also have to take a moment to mention Regalito, a little Mexican eatery I stumbled upon in the Mission District. This is not your typical greasy Mexican food. This is based on Mexican market food: an open kitchen with the food prepared from scratch before your eyes. We started with tortilla soup and were excited about our entrees when the waiter came with "bad" news. He said my 1/2 chicken was not going to be ready for at least 15 minutes. Did I want to order something different instead? I said no, we'll wait- But how about you bring us some of that tasty made-from-scratch guacamole I see everyone eating? Drinking wine, eating guacamole, why would I care about a few extra minutes? The food was delicious, the chicken perfect, and Trevor ordered more Meat Butter: slow roasted pork. But the most amazing thing was that at the end of the meal, the owner/chef Thomas wouldn't let us pay for our entrees since the food was so slow!!!! (That called for extra exclamation points.) How is THAT for service? We were perfectly happy chatting and eating and drinking. What a good chef. If we lived in San Fran, I would go to Regalito all the time! And you could tell there were a lot of regulars in the restaurant as they waved at the chef or stopped to talk to him when they came in.
So if you live in or visit San Francisco anytime soon, please visit Chef Thomas at Regalitos!