Monday, March 27, 2006

Culinary Adventures

I've had a number of new-to-me food experiences in the last month or so:

1) Grits.
While in Charleston for Rob's wedding, I discovered grits. My previous experiences with this foodstuff had been somewhat negative because they involved a Californian's interpretation of what grits were supposed to be made with. Actual authentic southern grits are goood. How can you go wrong with that much cheese?

2) Tartine.
I am sure that at some point during my Europe adventures, I blogged about pan au chocolat, consumed fresh from the bakery in Paris. Upon returning to the states, I found that while many bakeries claim to have a pastry involving chocolate, that they are sad imitations of the real thing. The American equivalent used milk chocolate which usually hardened into a lump in the middle of the pastry, and the pastry itself would be heavy, full of butter, and not the least bit flaky. Anyway, at Tartine (18th and Guerrero), I found one that's somewhat close to the Paris version (certainly leap-years ahead of the other American ones), whose primary flaw is that it's really breakfast for two. But it uses the right kind of chocolate (dark Schaffenberger) and the pastry is light and fluffy. Yummy.

3) Brunch at the Ritz
When Amy was here to visit, we had brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown SF. This definitely counts as the most spectacular buffet ever: there were so many different kinds of food that I couldn't possibly try them all. An omelete station, carving station with multiple kinds of meat, sushi, dim sum, bread and cheese, tapas, and an enormous dessert cart. I was absolutely stuffed and couldn't eat anything else all day.

4) Those yummy little meringue things
I don't know what they're called, but they had them at chocolate stores in Zurich: composed of two pieces of meringue that sandwich a layer of creme. They come in dozens of flavors. You could theoretically ship them from Switzerland, but it's complicated because they are fragile and respond badly to heat. When you buy a box, you basically have to eat it all right then and there. I think the name might sound vaguely like 'sprungli' but Google's results for this are not promising. Anyway, I figured for sure I would never find anything like this here, but the Noe Valley Bakery and Bread Co (24th at.. Noe) has something pretty close. They're heavier than their European counterparts (detecting a theme yet?) but are very tasty and come in chocolate and fruity flavors.

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