Spaghetti with bottarga, the must-order at La Ciccia.
It was a week of beautiful food, food that represents the glorious gluttony of summer produce. Being presented with menus brimming with everything from corn to tomatoes to peppers is like looking onto a field of wildflowers—it's just such a vision that I want to run around in slow motion, leaping into the air while wearing a gauzy white skirt that catches the sunlight.
Or something like that. I'm just saying I get very excited. There's so much amazing produce to savor before the fall gets here and I'm doing my part.
I started off at the newly opened Rich Table on Monday. Located in the old Paul K space in Hayes Valley, it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood and run by a couple of pros who have worked in the kitchens of Coi, Quince, Michael Mina, and Bouley in New York. Of course there are walls of reclaimed wood (I'm going to start calling the interior design police soon). But the barn-chic interior is actually perfectly suited for the food which has a produce-forward, quirky quality to it that reminds of State Bird Provisions. With a sophisticated twang, it's like the food equivalent of The Be Good Tanyas (who, btw, are playing today at Outside Lands). I loved the starters, particularly a dish of charred cherry tomatoes and snap peas; peppers served with what they call sweet-and-sour quail; and untraditional corn fritters plated atop a perfect brunoise of vegetables.
Yesterday, I stopped by Bar Tartine's new sandwich shop on Valencia Street. We sat down to a trio of smorrebrod—open-faced sandwiches made with Chad Robertson's rye bread—and I just looked at them for about five minutes before I could bear to dig in. As a jaded food writer, there are few moments when I just sit with my mouth agape. Balla is doing something that hasn't been done here (anywhere?). A smorrebord of chopped broccoli has goat cheese, onion jam, and chili; strips of smoked eggplant come with white bean spread and a whole roasted and skinned tomato balancing on top. It sounds basic, but trust me—this is sandwich art. Of the non-sandwich items, there are fried smoked potatoes but I don't even want to get into it. I'm feeling a little proprietary about them.
And if this wasn't all enough to satiate me for months, we followed that lunch with a dinner in Big Sur at the Big Sur Bakery. In town to see the Grandaddy show at the Henry Miller Library (coolest venue ever), we had a fantastic meal. Bandol wine, a gorgeous bean salad, skirt steak with lentils and broccoli, peach in puff pastry for dessert. Rufus Wainwright is playing September 28th. I suggest you make a date of it.