12 Apr 2007

Scale of Garnish

I AM RESIDENT of the San Remo hotel, North Beach, an Italianate pensione with character-building plumbing (the varnished wood and burnished brass bathrooms almost rival those of Hazlitts, a posh inn in Soho). Except that they equate to one loo per fifty guests!
Having digested three obesely saccharine films on the flight over, I awoke from several bouts of fitful sleep with bloodshod, panda eyes galvanised to meet the day with renewed vigour. This was achieved at the nearby Café Pescatore. Ordering what I thought would be the lightest item on the menu - which featured Eggs Benedict with French fries - I selected home-baked cinnamon-dusted toast. I was thus staggered to find what landed in front of me was an entourage of diced bananas and sugar-sprinkled strawberries swimming in a maple syrup lagoon on thick cut loaf boats. A pick-me-up Bloody Mary with so much celery foilage I could hardly see over it encouraged me to utter the drink's title in an albeit charming accent (according to the Americans anchored at the next table). Such a scale of garnish, which also included olives, might have represented the stock-take of a medium sized fruiterers! I left shaking because of the ample servings.
On the recommendation of a Californian colleague, I spent lunchtime at the Ferry Plaza Wine Shop/Wine Bar, a smart emporium near Bay Bridge. Of five wines sampled, my favourite was the biodynamically produced Honig '04 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.
Despite the moody label, the experience was like sniffing the interior of a Steinway. Mint chocolate ice cream also came to mind. Excellent, soul refreshing, but it needs time.
Overall, San Francisco is cleaner, quieter and sweeter smelling than I anticipated.