Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bar Tartine Night Out: I’m Smitten

Bar Tartine Night Out: I’m Smitten

A couple nights ago, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in San Francisco, checking out the fabbbbbbulous Joseph Cornell retrospective at Moma, walking here and there, and finally eating dinner at Bar Tartine. It was a great night. I love Joseph Cornell’s (link included below), I always appreciate my ability to walk (look ma, no hands), but more importantly, I’m a Bar Tartine Fanatic, and so is he.
Some people make the inaccurate statement that we're obsessed with Bar Tartine. This is a completely narrow take on it all, for we also lay up nights with tingly tummy feelings thinking of Tartine Bakery, Bar Tartine’s sister. It’s really the entire Tartine family that gives us butterflies and makes us feel, well, a little naughty. Those butter-laden croissants. Those fresh gnocchi. That crispy pork belly. Oh.
And, ever since I went to Bar Tartine for the first time with my bachelorette party girls, if a special ocassion arises that calls for us to leave the East Bay, we tend to head to Bar Tartine. In fact, we remind me of this elderly couple who always use to come into a restaurant where I worked and refused to try anything but their standard dish. They knew that they loved that dish and they didn’t want to be disappointed. Every week they came in and ordered the same two plates. Again and again, regardless of the marvelous concoctions just added to the menu.
They annoyed the hell out of me. Alas, now we are them. We just go there. Tartine never disappoints, and we return to be charmed, eat things that most people don’t want to cook at home (sweatbreads or croissants, anyone), and drink delicious wine. A cooks paradise.
And thus commences an exploration of our wine and food pairings.

First courses:
“Local squid and pork belly with egg salad, potato croutons and herb vinaigrette”
w/Non vintage J. Lassalle Champagne, premier cru, France

“Crispy sardines with haricot verts, friese, picked scallions, romesco, aioli and olive vinaigrette”
05 Di Giovanna Grillo, Sicilia

Yes, it was amazing. First of all, champagne has powers ( see November's "Breakfast Wines" Post ) that never fail to impress me. This first dish was gorgeous, lush, and ..... fatty. And the champagne cut right through that. It amplified the different textures, the crispy squid tentacles and seared pork belly, but cushioned the lusher bits of the dish such as the soft belly fat and the tender squid. But best of all, the champagne smelled like cocoa nibs. Fabulous.
Next, the Grillo, a grape used widely in Sicily, was perfect with the sardines. Would you believe that this was the first time I’ve ever tried fresh sardines? The good Scandinavian she is, my mother would eat sardines straight from the can when I was young, but I never developed a taste for them and hence steered away from other varieties of the fish. But I was wrong and I take it back. They were so sweet! The Grillo was so juicy and fresh, and it and the sardines just POPPED together. Seafood and Italian whites, sigh. The champagne was just okay with this.

Second course:
“Prather Ranch lamb with roasted peppers, eggplant, chickpea fritter, yogurt and Moroccan spices”
04 Clos Montirius Vacqueyras, Rhone Valley, France

“Braised veal cheeks with pumpkin agnolotti, broccoli di cicco, baby turnips, and cocoa nib gremolata”
Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto, Piedmont

First lesson- Rhone blends, often expressed as GSM’s –Grenache, Sryah, Mouvedre grapes, are great for dishes with exotic spices. Great with Harissa, Morrocan flavors, even curry. They're burly enough to take their big flavors on. This was no exception. Everything melded perfectly.
The second dish was heavenly too. Dolcetto has got to be one of the juiciest grapes in all of Italy, and this one was all fruit, all the time, and it highlighted the fresh and bright flavors in the dish, and got cozier with the sultrier flavors of the cheeks and pumpkin. Easy drinking.

Here are a few links that I think you may enjoy.
P.S. I made an Amazon store link to my favorite cooking things online after some people have asked me my practical preferences. The Tartine Bakery book is on it!

Link: Joseph Cornell


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1 comment:

K what said...

I don't care if it is an old post. The "side door" to the bakery serves fresh gnocchi... crispy pork belly... braised veal cheeks...? Dizzle. I'll make a reservation.