Five-days-food-galore in the US!
I know: I do not eat much, I do not eat regularly, and food is not my priority... that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate good food – many successful fashion designers are men, yet they hit the taste of most women .
Anyways, back to food! During my recent trip to Salt Lake City, San Francisco & Los Angeles (yes, all three in just 5 days) I had the opportunity to test an interesting and eclectic selection of restaurants.
Let’s start with Valter’s Osteria in Salt Lake City: truly a blend of finest Italian cuisine. Chef Valter has definitely succeeded in modernizing dishes while preserving his region’s (Tuscany) traditional features - my favorite: his home-made gnocchis (potato dumplings) firm enough to keep their shape on the plate, soft enough to melt away on your tongue. On a side note, I very much appreciated the frugal use of garlic which I often found overwhelming in many US-based Italian restaurants. And then there is chef Valter himself: a “character” to say the least – passionate about his cuisine, about his guests, about perfection in cooking and serving... probably not the easiest person to work for, but a delight for the customers.
Next stop: San Francisco’s Farallon, centrally located on Union Square. Even if you didn’t know the restaurant’s specialty, you’d find out as soon as you enter this underwater fantasy ambiente illuminated by medusa lamps, opened by chef Mark Franz in 1997... somewhat of a Star Trek ‘slash’ Atlantis feeling. As for the menu... you can pick anything really, but fish and seafood, is why you want to be here for in the first place. And an open kitchen space will allow you to appreciate first hand the skilled chefs at work. Echoing most reviews on Trip Advisor: not cheap, but definitely worth it, even more so as a knowledgeable sommelier will help you pick just the right "cuvée" for your dish.
Fancy a good dinner and an amazing view of San Francisco Bay, then The Caprice in Tiburon is the place to be. You can enhance the experience by getting there with the San Francisco Ferry. The menu is not very large yet you’ll find something that matches your taste. I’d define the culinary style as a creative California-French-German blend, which contrasts by the way with the rather traditional decor of the restaurant. One word of caution though for larger groups – they don’t seem to have a large wine cellar: ordering more than 3 bottles of the same wine proved challenging... but maybe it was just a temporary “rupture de stock”.
To wrap it up, a couple of suggestions for more informal venues... on this last trip I tried out the University Café in Palo Alto... nice coffee house atmosphere, decent prices, large variety of food, a place to chill out. Almost next door - a bit more on the pricey side but who cares when you’re a chickpeas addict like me – you’ll find Oren’s Hummus; indeed one of the best Israeli food places outside Israel. Friendly staff, upbeat atmosphere... usually quite a wait though because it’s so popular, but worth hanging in there. If you prefer a vegetarian option at a more than reasonable price, I recommend heading to Udupi Palace in SFO’s mission district: a choice of simple yet outstanding South Indian dishes. Plus you’ll discover one of San Franciso oldest – and in the meantime hottest - neighborhoods in the process.
One last suggestion for those who like me want to make sure they still fit into their clothes after such a food galore... don’t forget to pack your sneakers (they don’t need to be pink ), keep a left once you hit the Ferry Building on San Francisco’s Embarcadero and make your way to the Golden Gate Bridge – some 16 km (or 22 if you decide to cross the bridge) of breathtaking scenery which will allow you to work off all the calories and free up your mind.
Headed to San Diego next.... see you soon!