Food and Words: San Francisco, Day Two

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Food and books and words and food.

San Francisco can feel like a mirage. There’s all that fog, blurring the beginnings and ends of days. There is queer and feminist and leftist, on storefronts and in people’s conversations, even in restaurant menus. (And I think: what happened, in Canada, to those words? Those words that have become so secretive, so difficult to locate, so confined to kitchens and ghettos, and theory).

San Francisco can feel like one big meal. And I’m not being metaphoric here.

There was a foot-long felafel, filled with eggplant and marinated vegetables and tahini and of course felafel balls, in a hole-in-the-wall that The Femme Author took me to after picking me up at the airport. All of it wrapped in crispy flat bread, heated on a grill. There was the fish and the vegan food at Weird Fish, after whiskies at The Lexington, a longtime lesbian bar.

How do foodies do it? How do they go to another city and eat meal after exquisite meal?

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Last night The Gay Ukrainian Writer Boy took me on an Italian-themed food crawl. (OK, it was only 2 places but at the end of it we crawled home).

We started at Bar Bambino, a somewhat pretentious restaurant with a lovely outdoor heated patio, edged with bamboo trees. The butch waitress was a self-taught sommelier, giving us solemn and apt advice on the regional Italian wine list. The Sicilian “fruit bomb” she recommended to me was truly a fruity velvety pleasure. Writer Boy ordered an appetizer pecorino cheese souffle with bread and huckleberry sauce. We loved its subtlety and softness, the way it slid down out throats like a cloud. I told the butch waitress i was a food blogger from Canada, that I loved the food at Bar Bambino and planned to write about it. Oh Great. Famous. In. Canada. she sniffed haughtilyand turned on her heel. That gave us a slightly acrid aftertaste but we soon forgot about it and went gaily on our way, sweet, intense conversation warming us as we walked.

Farina is a restaurant in the Mission District that serves only Ligurian food. Liguria is a southern region of Italy, its dazzling, ochre-tinged western Riviera. I wrote about the food I ate there, the micro-regions, the foccacias for which its known, in Comfort Food for Breakups. This place was all of that and more. In contrast to Bar Bambino the wait staff was casual and fun. The chestnut gnocchi with pesto and sour ricotta was smoky-tasting and exquisitely tender, in both flavour and texture. Writer Boy’s yellowfin tuna carpaccio was a silky slinky dance down the throat. The foccacia with cheese, tomato and anchovy was jolly, celebratory. I felt like I could tell the folks at Farina about my food blog and they wouldn’t laugh, but I didn’t.

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Writer Boy ordered the milk fritters with blood orange sauce and citrus salad, based on our sultry waitress’s advice. If you eat only one thing at Farina, eat that. With an espresso, in late afternoon.

Oh and did I mention the bread? Whole grain with walnuts and a cake-like crumb. I bought two loaves, for Writer Boy and Femme Author. It set a new record for prices I have paid for bread but I didn’t care.

It was misty and warm when we left Farina at midnight, saltwater lightly flavouring the air. We got on a bus together, too tired and satsified to talk anymore. Writer Boy got off at Divisidaro. Who knows where he went after that….

Tonight, I read at Femina Potens (see sidebar) with Inge Muscio.

And, coming soon, my experience at Tartine.

One Comment

  1. Foggy drizzly dripping windshield at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery where we stop to eat between work and school, one hour of quality time with the boifren’. Succulent gnocchi, wild and mushroomy, inhaled in an instant.

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