Aug 11, 2008

quince

aaron got me from google and we picked up some coffee from downtown mountain view before heading to the airport where he was going to collect someone and drop me off at bart. i got into the city just before 5 and walked up the hill in gorgeous sunlight and warm breezes to the old apartment for the first time in 2 months. ami tells me that last weekend was the first beautiful one in weeks, so i guess you don't miss a place until you come back and find it perfect.

i got a carefully-made, bittersweet iced coffee from ritual roasters, then headed up to pacific heights, arriving at quince at 7pm by way of jake and laura's apartment across the street. quince has a back table in the kitchen, and jake found enough people to make it work. great service for a large and confused table over a four-hour dinner by consummate professionals who never missed a beat and jousted with our table all evening.

four tastings of domestic and italian artisanal olive oil emerged from the kitchen gratis, together with samples of mulberries and orange and pepper truffles and a salt-crusted golden-tailed snapper that had just landed in california that same morning. we had a server dedicated to our table; her precise flourishes with the bottle of balsamic vinegar were bird-like and protocol officer-esque in the manner of C3PO and forced several of us to hold in snorts of laughter. dinner was
  • a melon nectar shot with fried zucchini and anchovy.
  • halibut tartare with soybeans and a citrus passionfruit grain mustard
  • fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and drizzled with olive oil. (so recently fried that they were still deflating when they arrived at table and were still tenderly liquid at the core)
  • castelmagno-stuffed tortelloni with honey brown butter sauce and a candied pecan. (two pillows of pasta filled with a salty burrata-like italian cheese; the honey in the sauce a fine balance to the salt in the cheese)
  • shreds of golden-tailed snapper in a cream sauce with lemon verbena and chopped vegetables. (we were tested and found wanting, not being able to identify the secret herb in the sauce, which was lemon verbena, of course)
  • agnolotti of veal, pork, and rabbit, with sage brown butter
  • tagliatelle with roasted quail ragu (both pastas were deeply, intensely satisfying, in the same category as the veal ragu bombolotti at jackson fillmore)
  • thin slices of rib eye with creamed nettles and fried artichoke with 5-barrel aged balsamic vinegar
  • peach leaf mousse with almonds and a black mulberry granita (the most successful dessert i've had in a long time. a creamy semifreddo with a bitter almond flavor at the very end of lightness and restraint, highlighted by roasted almonds, deeply-flavoured mulberry ice, and slices of santa rosa plum)

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