|Sean Thackrey, courtesy of DineGirl|
Many delightful restaurants surrounded us. In my journals, I find this about an evening at Café Jacqueline, a tiny place on Grant Avenue where Jacqueline Margulis herself still finishes every soufflé served: “Sharon chooses a glass of cote du Rhone that isn’t on the menu. The soup is spinach with a thick ladle of cream on top. Both Sharon and I know that the cream is what makes the soup. When the soufflé comes, the waiter carefully loosens it around the edge. It is Gruyere made with leeks, like ambrosia to me. We eat every bit of the soufflé, scraping the brown edges from the bowl.”
Another group of friends introduced me to Zuni, the quintessentially San Franciscan restaurant from whose wood-fired brick oven come perfect roasted chickens, gratins and savory tarts. I loved the feeling of the odd triangle-shaped building with the beautiful windows and its many levels and locations providing a perfect atmosphere for talk. These friends also hosted many Chinese meals for the shifting group of tai chi scholar warriors, teaching us to love the light Shanghai food of the best Chinese chefs in the city.
In the second half of the decade I lived on Russian Hill, a neighborhood full of tempting, intimate restaurants, such as Zarzuela, Frascati and the very Italian Amarena where we ate luscious pasta dishes such as homemade ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, sage and ricotta. We often went to I Fratelli, “so homelike with its blue checked woven tablecloths, strings of lights in the trees, delicious, unpretentious food.”
|Cafe Jacqueline, by John Storey|
As my understanding progressed, I also tried to buy local things, preferably from within 100 miles of where I lived to save the environmental cost of shipping. This was easy to do in the Bay Area, though I still hold out for a few things, Italian pasta, certain cheeses that are made better in Europe. But there is no need to buy wine from Europe, New Zealand or Chile when you live in California!
Real, organic produce. Grains and legumes sold in bulk. Artisan breads. Local wines. Tea from leaves bought in Chinatown. It became a healthy platform upon which to build when I married Don Starnes (who cares even more about food than I!) at the end of the decade.