: views from the Hill

Friday, May 14, 2004

[FOOD] Rubicon

Our fave SF Realtor sent us an invite to an event last Friday night, a wine and hors d'oeuvres blast from 6P - 8P at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase at the former home of the British consul general on Pacific Avenue, between Pierce and Steiner. The event was sponsored by Coldwell Banker and the place was awash with Realtors and their friends and clients. The home was fantastic -- 11,000 square feet, a wonderful courtyard, renovated kitchen, some memorable rooms and terrific nibbles and noshes. Like our friend Beth, CB only served white wine -- wouldn't want red stains on the carpets.

After our two-hour whirl was over, we drove home and powdered our noses before heading out to hunt down and kill a dinner, intending to eat at Palio d'Asti on Sacramento. Earlier Friday, I'd exchanged e-mails with Daniel Scherotter, the executive chef there, about his reasoned comments re foie that I'd wandered across earlier that day. e.g.

14. Poorly Written Legislation: SB 1520 is too general and too vague to cause anything other than problems. Burton’s Bill outlaws 'force feeding' defined as

"a process that causes the bird to consume more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily while foraging. Force feeding methods include but are not limited to, delivering feed through a tube or other device inserted into the bird’s esophagus."

It ignores the fact that all animals raised for domestic consumption are fed more than they would ever be able to get in the wild because they are not wild animals, would never survive in the wild and bare only distant genetic relationships to their smaller wild cousins. Cows wouldn’t normally eat corn or grain, for instance, they’d eat grass. There are no wild cows. Corn, or grain, makes them bulk up faster so they can get to market. Centuries of breeding have produced animals that would never survive in the wilderness but do sell. They are only raised (fed and kept alive) for food because tough, lean, scrawny, wild animals that don’t taste as good don’t sell either.

I figured it was time for karma and if some folks were boycotting restaurants and trashing restaurateurs because they served foie, I could make it a point to support folks like Scherotter.

Scherotter was fine with that, "I'm here Mon-Friday and always have some foie around for those who choose to eat it."

So, on an impulse we headed down. We got there about nine, but the restaurant had been having a slow night and, we were told, they'd decided to send the kitchen home early. Next time, we were told, give a call before you head over and we'll make sure we're still serving.

We headed down to maybe eat at one of the places on Belden Place, but on our way there we walked past Rubicon. Hey. We'd never eaten at Rubicon. Let's stop in.

558 Sacramento Street

We ordered. His nibs chose a wine from their extensive (and expensive) wine list.

His nibs had the warm capaccio of scallops with Dungeness crab, sea urchin and tarragon as an appetizer, while I had the hot & cold foie gras with poached pear, aged balsamic and roasted salsify. I had some concerns that there might be too many flavors and the foie would be overwhelmed, but Yow. Both appetizers were excellent.

His nibs had the applewood-smoked duck with glazed foie, maitake mushrooms, curried lentils, &c. I had the "tagliata" of dry aged striploin with trumpet mushrooms, arugula jus. Again, both dishes were delish. Not often one gets to eat somewhere where every dish ordered comes through with blue ribbons flying.

Dessert was Bleu de Basque and a poached pear with balsamic ice cream and toasted walnuts for him, a glass of malmsey (and a spoon so I could snatch tastes of his dessert) for me. His dessert was wonderful. The balsamic ice cream, which sounded like a strange thing, was absolutely amazing. The whole dinner was fantastic.

Next time we go, I'll be sure it's not after I've spent a couple hours noshing on crab puffs so I'll have more room for the delicious food. Prices are $$$.

This Wednesday in the Merc, Carolyn Jung had an article (registration required) about Rubicon. Seems the folks making the delicious food and dessert are a couple who just took over the reins last month. Stuart Brioza was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs in America by Food & Wine magazine last year. Nicole Krasinski is the pastry chef and in charge of the delicious desserts. They are quite a dynamite duo.

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