The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

San Francisco in December

Well, here I am in rainy, cold San Francisco. Of course, “cold” is relative, since my wife said it’s barely above zero with wind chills hovering around -20F back home. Had to give a talk at the American Society for Cell Biology meeting, which I find a drag at this time of year. But it does give me a chance to review some new restaurants and wines. Sooo, here goes.

I got in late to the San Francisco Marriott last Saturday night. Thankfully, Annabelle’s was still serving at 10:30 PM. I’ve reviewed this restaurant before, but since the menu and wines change, I’ll give it another go. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast in Nebraska, which means this was 12:30 AM for me and I was HUNGRY! Started with a cup of very unremarkable seafood bisque. It had a tomato base and the waiter said it had shrimp and mussels in it, but they were nowhere to be found. It was simply a fishy tasting tomato soup. Disappointing. However, next was an appetizer of white cheddar cheese, lightly breaded and fried, then covered with an apple liqueur and diced apples—very nice. For my main course, I had lamb medallions, medium rare, accompanied by a hash of diced rutabaga, carrots, and onions. The lamb was lightly covered in a brown sauce tasting slightly sweet, probably from a touch of brown sugar. Both were excellent. Dessert was toasted bread pudding topped with a Jameson whiskey sauce and accompanied by a chocolate expresso pot de crème. The latter is a dense, creamy, concoction resembling a pudding more than a mousse. Suffice to say, both were outstanding. Wine for the night was a Storybook Mountain Napa Estate, Mayacamas Range Zinfandel. It’s about $24.00 in the stores. Nice deep red color. Fruity bouquet. Berries, strawberry, and spice on the palate. Storybrook Mountain is known for its fine zinfandels and this was definitely one of them.

Sunday, I and three colleagues tried Daffodil’s, just north of Union Square halfway up Nob Hill. It’s a little known place that I can usually get in without a reservation. For an appetizer, I had breaded deep fried calamari with similarly breaded pieces of dill pickle and sauce of jalapenos and cilantro crème fraiche. It was unusual…and very good. The sauce was outstanding with just enough bite to make it interesting.

Two entrees to review here. First was a fettuccine lamb ragout in a brown sauce, similar to what I experienced at Annabelle’s. It was laced with morel mushrooms and diced shallots. Very tasty. Second was a grilled pork chop with an apple liqueur based sauce over wild rice. The pork chop was good, meaty with no fat, and cooked perfectly. Very succulent. For the wine, I chose a Fleur Carneros Pinot Noir, which goes with just about everything. It’s a lighter red with brilliant color and a bouquet of ripe cherries and cranberries. On the palate, the berries persist with a touch of spice and nutmeg. While it’s fruity, this wine is soft and supple with a lingering finish of berries and spice. It generally runs around $15.00 in the stores.

Well, that should keep you drooling for now. I’ll write more as I finish out my trip tomorrow. Until then, enjoy some wine.


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