Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Stars and Stripes

Michelin starred restaurants beckon so I am going to be very quiet for the next few weeks. We fly into San Francisco on Friday to start a bit of a foodie journey around northern California. I've read time and time again that California is a food lover's paradise so I'm extremely excited to finally be making the trip to the Bay Area.

First cab of the rank is dinner at Coi in San Francisco, a two starred restaurant that is home to the famous inverted cherry tomato tart. We will also spend some time at the Ferry Building Marketplace where I fully intend to buy one of everything on the shelf in Miette. Believe me, that is only a very slight exaggeration. I have been ogling their Princess Cake online for months.

Brunch at Tartine Bakery is very much on the agenda. I've been eyeing off their book at the Essential Ingredient every time I'm there but I am determined to buy the book from the bakery itself (which is actually very very stupid because then I will have to lug it around on our travels. What's even more stupid is that I don't mind!)

This is a bit embarassing to admit but I figured there was a limit to how much find dining was rational and healthy in a two week period so I made a shortlist of restaurants I was interested in going to, and then culled. I was also mindful of leaving enough time for a bit of organic discovery of new exciting places rather than planning each and every day in Excel (don't tempt me!) And I knew I would really want to go to a diner or two.

Anyway, this process led to much anxiety as I discovered that most of the restaurants had complex booking policies, for example taking bookings 1 calendar month before the preferred date of booking, or 4 weeks before. And then I read that bookings for my preferred restaurants were as rare as gold dust and then 'sold out' as quickly as they opened.

Chez Panisse in Berkeley topped my list. I was absolutely elated when I (by I, I mean Rahul, I was way too chicken to ask for the rules to be bent!) managed to wrangle a booking a day earlier than the booking policy officially allowed. Apparently they like charming Australians.

A trip to California would not be complete without paying homage to Thomas Keller's empire. The big question was whether to shell out all our pennies and visit The French Laundry, arguably the best restaurant in the world and beneficiary of three Michelin stars. I have a history of high expectations. Like the time we went to Tetsuyas which I liked but wasn't blown away by. Yet I can be totally satisfied by a $10 bowl of pho in Cabramatta. It's all to do with expectation. In the end I concluded the risk of having the same kind of disappointment at The French Laundry, as well as being out of pocket somewhere in the range of $800 - $1000) was too great. So we're going to Thomas' less fancy French Bistro Bouchon.

Also on my list was Ubuntu, which I read about first on Lovely Morning. Vegetarian fine dining in Australia is limited, if it exists at all? So I'm exited to be going to a Michelin starred vegetable restaurant, as well as completely charmed by the idea that all the produce comes straight out of the restaurant garden.

So. Am I excited or what?


  1. wooooooow. chez panisse. <3

    nice work on the booking rahul :)

  2. this is completely irrelevant but WE JUST GOT SKY HIGH FROM AMAZON

    i am over the moon :)

  3. That is truly excellent news! The important question is... what are you going to bake first?

  4. Quick question:

    What's your email address for this? I have a suggestion for you.

  5. Hi Joanna, I don't have an email address set up for blogging but I should! I think you have my work email address though so that might be the best way until I set one up. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!