There’s nothing like starting your day off with a walk around San Francisco. As I strolled the streets with a hot cup of coffee in my hand I witnessed the logistical hustle needed to get the city stocked to host away the weekend, there was such promise in the air.
After an extensive walking tour of the town, I made my way over to E&O Trading Co for the Delectable Dumplings class. The session was hosted by authors Sara Deseran and Andrea Nguyen, as well as George Chen of Shanghai 1930 and Shirley Fong Torres. The panel provided an insightful history lesson of how dumplings originated across Asia through the years. George Chen spoke of a man he worked with who was made to sleep in the kitchen for months in China as he was a new chef so he could watch the dough through the night. We were then treated to a series of dumplings that were made in front of the on looking audience. The chicken curry dumpling was steamed which gave it more the look of Mexican pastry than what you would expect in an Asian inspired dumpling. The bread was sweet and soft allowing easy access to the well seasoned chicken inside. I have a pretty low threshold for curries in the sense that a little is good, but a little too much ruins the dish. This dumpling was just right, not just on the curry. Next we were treated to a sticky rice spinach dumpling with an unexpected filling. I could see the color of the spinach and didn’t anticipate any other filing. Yet when I got to the center I bit into a wonderful combination of pork, dried mung bean and spices that could have been stood well on its own.
With a little time to mix with fellow food enthusiasts, I slowly made my way over to the Grand Tasting in Union Square. As I approached the entrance of giant tent over the square I was taken aback by the size of the event. We were greeted inside with a smile and a wine glass, certainly not your average day in the park!
1300 on Fillmore grabbed my eye as I’d had a good experience there on another SF visit. They had prepared fried green tomato salad that paired lightly battered, thinly sliced tomato with mixed greens. As if that weren’t enough, wonderful blue cheese grits with tomato marmalade was served on the side.
Gerald Hirigoyen’s Piperade brought forth the pride of the Basque country as much as the spirit of summer with an amazing seafood salad. The salad served up calamari and octopus with cilantro and watermelon. I was jealous of such simplicity could be so good. To cope with my envy, I went back for seconds…thirds.
Staying with simple, Bar Bambino offered a wheel of parmesan cheese, most of which was broken off in thousands of pieces. I grabbed a toothpick’s worth and was so pleased with the taste of the fresh cheese. Then the man next to me left the table exposing a platter of cured Capicola. I tried it alone and then with the parmesan, the goodness of life had been affirmed.
Getting to meet and spend a little time talking to Perbacco’s Umberto Gibin was a treat. He was warm, gracious and so happy to talk to people. He had every reason to be proud of the dish he was offering. He had made a delightful cured sardine half with a touch of salsa verde. This dish was special and I got a thrill from seeing people walk away from that table with a stunned look on their faces.
The Cliff House has a long history in the bay area. Having been in operation since 1863, they would not seem like the most likely place to serve up a truly remarkable spicy crab and unagi roll with wasabi caviar. The flare of the wasabi caviar was offset with the cool taste of cucumber, which made an impact, while leaving the seafood in the spotlight.
I had to start walking off all this food in order to have room for the next grand tasting, I’ve been hearing little things about great BBQ to come….
Scenes from the event: